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Lot 047: Invicta Black Prince DHC

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (13 July 2011)

Being one of the greatest names in the pre-war car industry, hopes were high when Invicta Car Ltd announced their first post-war model in 1946: The World's most advanced car proclaimed the company literature. Brilliant acceleration, scientific braking, superlative roadholding combined with luxury, simplicity and freedom from mechanical trouble. The reality turned out to be rather different but you couldn't help but admire the sheer ambition of the project.

Everything about the car just bristled with innovation: the engine was a 120bhp Meadows 3-litre straight six with double overhead cams, dual ignition systems feeding 12 plugs and triple SU carbs, while the gearbox made it Britain's first car with fully automatic transmission. Called the Brockhouse Hydro-Kinetic Turbo-Transmitter, it offered an infinite variety of ratios controlled by one simple dashboard switch to select between forward and reverse. Top speed was quoted as 107mph and it could hit 60mph in 12 seconds - in either forward or reverse!

The chassis was no less ambitious with all-independent suspension by torsion bars and sliding pillars, with forged wishbones and inboard Girling hydraulic drum brakes at the rear. For maximum refinement, the floor and seats were finished as an entirely separate structure from the bodyshell and mounted on eight Silentbloc chassis mounts. To save weight and increase rigidity, the body was supported on aircraft-style light alloy box sections in place of the traditional wood.

Other features included 24-volt electrics with two 12-volt batteries used in parallel for lighting and in series for starting. These also powered an onboard hydraulic jacking system and electric heaters in the sump and water jackets with a trickle charger and mains connection for efficient winter starting.

Unfortunately such innovations didn't come cheap and by the time it was ready for production the car cost a mighty �3,579 with purchase tax  as much as a Rolls or a Bentley. The gearbox also proved delicate in operation and unless used exactly as detailed in the handbook, it could easily be damaged in the transition from forward to reverse ratios. Just 16 Black Prince cars were produced between 1947 and 1949 before Invicta went bankrupt in May 1950, of which it is thought that no more than six were two-door dropheads.

First registered in April 1948, this particular drophead is chassis number 105 and was first owned by HH Turner of Turner & Co Timber Merchants, Bloxwich. Old buff log books on file show that in 1957 ownership transferred to Magnus Pegrum of Frimley Green, Surrey; in 1962 to Ralph Crowe of Shrewsbury; in 1967 to Bryan Adams of Hayling Island, Hants and in 1978 to Michael Hentall of Southampton.

The current vendor acquired the car from Mr Hentall in 1988 at which point it was still in exceptionally sound and original condition throughout and still fitted with its original engine and gearbox, both in working order. He planned to restore the car but after having the brightwork rechromed, the brakes rebuilt and the engine cleaned and serviced with etch-primed cam covers and carbs, other commitments meant that the project was put on the back burner and the car was to languish in storage for another 20 years. The vendor has since emigrated and has reluctantly decided that the car should pass to an enthusiastic new owner with more time and energy to devote to the project.

As you can see from the photos, the car remains in wonderfully sound and original condition with a particularly nice red leather interior which should revive beautifully. Unfortunately vandals have removed the centre part of the dashboard containing the instruments, but photos on file show what it looked like so it should not be too difficult to recreate.

The car comes with a very large history file from new including a wealth of technical data, engineering diagrams and blueprints from Invicta Cars, Brockhouse, Meadows and other sources which will no doubt prove of great value to the restorer. Altogether a most rare and fascinating motorcar which will amply reward the sympathetic conservation and restoration it now requires. We are very excited to have this car in the sale and can't wait to see it restored to its former glory. The gorgeous Meadows twin cam engine must surely be worth the estimate all on its own!

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number047
Estimate£12000-£16000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£20000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1948
Condition rating0
Registration numberHOP 244
Mileage-
Chassis number105
Engine number50068
Engine capacity (cc)2997
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2