£850,000 - £1,000,000
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Motorcars from the Estate of Dean S. Edmonds Jr. 1931 Invicta 4½-Litre S-Type 'Low Chassis' Le Mans-Type Sports Tourer Coachwork by Vanden Plas Chassis no. S102 Engine no. 12371 – see text 4.42 Liter, SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder (Meadows) Engine Twin SU Carburetors 103bhp at 3,000rpm 4-Speed Manual Transmission Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension 4-Wheel Drum Brakes *One of the finest sports cars of the Vintage era *Subject of a comprehensive restoration with only modest age *Former Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Class Winner *One of very few examples of the iconic model to be found in America *Believed to have been delivered new in left-hand drive form THE INVICTA S-TYPE "The low chassis Invicta was probably the best-looking sports car in the vintage tradition ever to be produced in England. I can think of no contemporary unsupercharged motor-car of similar capacity, made here, which could outperform it - and very few built elsewhere..." – J R Buckley, 'The 4½-litre S-Type Invicta', Profile Publications, 1966. In an era when most cars stood tall, the 4½-liter S-Type Invicta, with its dramatically under-slung chassis, caused a sensation: few sports cars before or since have so looked the part. The Invicta Company's origins go back to the year 1924 when Noel Macklin and Oliver Lyle, both of whom already had motor industry experience, got together to create a car combining American levels of flexibility and performance with European quality and road-holding. Like the contemporary Bentley, the Invicta was designed by men with a personal background of competition motoring and both were produced to an exemplary standard. Price was only a secondary consideration, a factor that contributed largely to both firms' failure to weather the Depression years of the early 1930s. Like Bentley, Invicta struggled against rising costs and falling sales, the final car leaving the factory, appropriately enough, on Friday the 13th of October 1933. Launched at the 1930 Motor Show at Olympia, the S-type featured an all new 'under-slung' chassis that achieved a much lower center of gravity by positioning the rear axle above the frame rails instead of below as was normal practice at the time. Just about the only thing the S-type Invicta had in common with its contemporary stablemates was the 4½-liter Meadows engine, which was also used for the 'NLC' and 'A' types. Like most low-revving engines it delivered ample torque in the lower and middle speed ranges. Indeed, the Invicta can be throttled down to 6-8mph in top gear - despite its relatively high 3.2:1 final drive ratio - and will then accelerate rapidly and without complaint when the accelerator is depressed. Contemporary motoring press reports typically recorded acceleration figures of 10-70mph in 19 seconds, which speaks volumes for the Invicta's legendary flexibility. The popular '100mph Invicta' tag notwithstanding, standard cars had a – still impressive – top speed of around 116mph with more to come in racing trim. However, it must be stressed that the S-type Invicta was primarily a very fast but comfortable high-speed touring car, and although it met with moderate success in racing in the hands of private owners in the early 1930s, its greatest appeal lies in an ability to cover a substantial mileage at high average speeds with no strain, either to driver or the machinery. Raymond Mays, writing of the two Invictas he owned in the early 1930s, says that they gave him some of the most exhilarating motoring he ever had, with their ability "to crest most main-road hills at nearly the century". The company's main effort focused on proving the cars by entering the most challenging long-distance trials in the motoring calendar, achieving notable successes. The Austrian Alpine Trail was chosen as a suitable test and the S-type duly excelled in this arduous event, Donald Healey twice winning a Coupe des Glaciers for Invicta as well as the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally. Over 70 years after the last car left the Cobham factory, approximately 68 of the 75-or-so S-types built are known to survive, testifying to the fact that they have always been regarded as high quality motor cars. Indeed, in pre-war days there was a club dedicated exclusively to the model and members famously christened individual cars with names like 'Scythe', 'Scrapper' and 'Sea Lion'. THE MOTORCAR OFFERED S102 would garner the name 'Sandfly' and it was one of the few cars to have been bodied by the renowned firm of Vanden Plas. From their records published in the Dalton Watson book on the marque penned by Brian Smith, S102 carried body number 1711. Interestingly the reference for the car reads "Sports – LeMans Type 4 Seater, left hand steering, center gear change, black/blue, 9/31." There are no period images or other documentation to confirm that it was indeed delivered this way, but it would certainly have been one of very few if not the only one delivered in this form. According to information on file and also kindly supplied to the Edmonds family by Invicta expert and Car Club archivist & Registrar James Wood, this car, Invicta S102 was originally registered on the UK roads in 1931 to its first owner who was based in the Reading area of the UK, just south of London. Later owners are listed as Rowland Smith and F.R. Walker, a relation of the Le Mans Winning Driver – Peter Walker in the UK and at some point, we believe in those times, its original crankcase for the engine number 7515 was replaced with the current unit, numbered 12371 which is noted to have been of the war department series and were known to be of much sturdier and reliable construction than those originally fitted. Certainly by the 1950s and ever since it has been a right hand drive car. By 1956 'Sandfly' was owned by Frederick Stahl who lived in the former collector car mecca of London, Queensgate, SW1. Mr. Stahl brought the car to these shores. By 1966 he is still listed as a resident at Hancock Street in Boston. In his ownership the car was restored by Russ Sceli of Hartford, Connecticut and in 1971 it passed to the former owner, a noted old car enthusiast and respected collector, Mark Gibbons of Cambridge, Mass. Ever impressed by British cars, the rare sight of an Invicta in the US no doubt intrigued Dean Edmonds who ultimately purchased the car in November 1982 from Mark Gibbons. In his notes, he records having used Sandfly only sporadically initially, and when he moved to the University of Western Ontario in 1990 he took this and other cars with him. In this period he built up a relationship with RM Auto Restorations in Chatham and when they reviewed this car, they felt its former restoration left a lot to be desired. He therefore commissioned a thorough rebuild with them to the highest aesthetic standards. To judge from the bills on file, that work began in 1991 and continued through 1994. Having experienced success at Pebble Beach in 1993 with his Bugatti, he returned there in 1995 with the Invicta, repeating with a First in Class win. The car was also shown at the Concours d'Elegance at Cranbrook, Michigan on occasion, the 1996 Eyes on Classic Design among other events. Nearing 40 years of current ownership, and some 25 years since its concours debut, the Invicta presents extremely well and its condition belies the passage of that time. On recent inspection and during the cataloguing and photography the car was seen to start with ease and run well. One of very few of its breed to exist in America, the Low Chassis Invicta is recommended for the closest inspection, it could well provide its next owner an exciting and great tour car as any who have had the privilege of driving these sports cars can attest.