Welcome back to Parts Bin Puzzle, the Autopian challenge where we give you a vehicle and you figure out where its bits came from! In this entry, we’re continuing down the path of production vehicles that robbed the parts bins of other manufacturers. This is the Invicta S1, a supercar from a British marque killed not just once, but two times before it was revived for a third time. And it comes with parts from more pedestrian cars.
Last time, we looked at the Th!nk City EV, one of just a few highway-legal EVs that you were able to buy in 2011. The little Th!nk had great ideas like molded-in-color panels that don’t easily scratch or dent, about 100 miles of range, and parts sourced locally. Unfortunately, Th!nk just never had enough money, and found itself frequently in the throes of bankruptcy. I asked you to guess its lighting and interior. Most of you were correct! Th!nk’s partner was Ford, and Th!nk City used interior parts from a first-generation Ford Focus. The rear lights are off the shelf Hella 4169. Amusingly, you awesome readers pointed out other parts bin shenanigans, like mirrors that were initially from a Citroën CX, then later a Fiat 500.
A Gearhead Builds His Dream Cars
According to Curbside Classic, the Invicta story initially kicks off with Captain (later Sir) Noel Campbell Macklin. Macklin was born in Australia in 1886 and moved to England in 1891, eventually becoming a part of the wealthy class. Curbside Classic notes that 15-year-old Macklin enjoyed driving his father’s Panhard & Levassor and even lost his license after getting a Fiat SB4 race car. After World War I, Macklin decided to build exclusive cars, opening his first car company in 1919. He joined forces with H Eric Orr-Ewing to create the Eric-Campbell & Co, but it didn’t last long before he moved on to make a second car company. Silver Hawk Motors built about a dozen cars out of Macklin’s garage before Macklin shut it down in 1921.
But Macklin never gave up his dreams of building a high-performance luxury car, and in 1924 (or 1925, depending on source) he joined forces with Oliver Lyle of Tate & Lyle sugar refiners, formerly Abram Lyle & Sons. This provided the financial backing that Macklin’s previous projects so desperately needed. The Invicta was born. Macklin’s dream? Building cars with the quality of a Rolls-Royce and the performance of a Bentley.
According to Profile Publications, Invicta’s first car was a 1924 model featuring a Coventry Climax 2.5 liter straight-six. But this engine didn’t quite meet Macklin’s expectations, and he later teamed up with engine supplier Henry Meadows. As Curbside Classic notes, Invictas were expensive, but the name became known for speed. The company bumped displacement up to 3-liters in 1926 then 4.5 liters in 1928. And these cars came in large and small chassis sizes to fit the customer’s chosen bodywork. Finally, Macklin had a successful company on his hands. According to an issue of Profile Publications, Invictas were so popular and so reliable that the company was awarded the Dewar Trophy in both 1926 and 1929.
The first 4.5-liter Invicta was followed up in 1929 with the 4.5-liter Type N.L.C. This was reportedly the most expensive Invicta produced, coming in at 1,050 pounds for just the bare chassis. However, for the price, the fit and finish of the chassis, its instruments, and its controls were said to be on the level of a Rolls-Royce. Finishing the car with a body cost another 750 pounds, making the Invicta a lavish choice. Unfortunately, this luxury beast came at the exact wrong time, as America and the world began entering into the Great Depression.
That didn’t stop Invicta, and it even finished 1929 and began 1930 with the S-Type, a stripped down, sports car version of the Invicta formula. Invicta’s cars would be used in competition and prove their mettle both on the track and on long road trips. Those who could afford an Invicta raved about how they performed.
Invicta’s cars helped someone leave an awesome mark on history. Macklin’s sister-in-law, Violette Cordery, took his vehicles to racing victories and setting distance records. Cordery piloted an Invicta on an around-the-world trip that covered 10,266 miles and several countries. Oh, and that Dewar Trophy? Cordery was behind the wheel, becoming the first woman to win the trophy. In that event, Cordery and her team were the first team to drive an Invicta 10,000 miles in 10,000 minutes. They also drove the fastest speed for 10,000 miles, and Cordery’s endurance is notable, as she drove twice as long as her male teammates. Cordery’s records are numerous, and the old lighting site has an excellent piece on her records and general badassery.
Unfortunately, Invicta’s fans and smashing motorsport success weren’t enough. Macklin attempted to downsize his Invicta cars to better fit the changing times, but he couldn’t save the company from slumping sales. Invicta was sold off in 1933, and Macklin started another car company, Railton. It’s not known when the Invicta folded, but it’s believed to have happened in 1935.
The Invicta name was revived in 1946 by a group of investors. The new car was called the Invicta Black Prince, and it still featured a Meadows engine. While the old Invicta was about speed and luxury, the new Invicta was about innovation. The Black Prince featured an independent suspension, four built-in electric hydraulic jacks, heaters for the engine and body, a radio, and even a trickle charger. Perhaps the most crazy feature was its Brockhouse Hydro-Kinetic Turbo-Transmitter. Here’s how Invicta described it, from Curbside Classic:
“Turbo torque converter fitted to the rear end of the crankshaft giving infinitely variable gear. Epicyclic reverse gear brought into operation by solenoid controlled by a switch on the dash. Divided propeller shaft connected to hypoid axle.”
Invicta went on to say that this setup doesn’t have any gears or moving parts, and that power gets to the wheels through a “centrifugal pump to a turbine.” This worked through a switch for forward or reverse. This version of Invicta failed in 1949 after just 16 examples were built.
This brings us to the modern day. As Car And Driver writes, in 2002 British businessman Michael Bristow brought Invicta back to life as a supercar. Bristow wasn’t a car enthusiast, but did own an old Invicta. In 1980, Bristow bought a 1931 4.5-liter Invicta. He also bought the Invicta name in the same year. Bristow more or less sat on the name until 2000, when he was asked engineer Chris Marsh if the Invicta name was available for licensing.
Bristow declined, but invited Marsh to join him in using the Invicta name to build a new car. Bristow’s Invictas would be grand-touring cars with the power to win races. The cars would be exclusive, too, featuring a hand-built body and timeless styling. However, Bristow and Marsh would save money by utilizing many off the shelf components from large manufacturers.
The Invicta S1-320 made its auto show debut in 2002 as a 180-mph grand tourer with an expected price of about $110,000. Under the hood is a 4.6-liter Ford modular V8 making 320 HP ripped out of the Mustang Mach 1. That power gets to the rear wheels through a Tremec T-45 five-speed manual. The chassis is a steel tube space frame with a one-piece carbon-fiber composite body bonded on top. The body apparently weighs just 44 pounds.
On the way to production, the supercar ballooned in more than one way. The price rose to $116,500, the weight went up by over 400 pounds to 3,036 pounds, and Car and Driver doubted if the car could reach 180 mph or accelerate to 60 mph in 5 seconds as then advertised. The publication was further concerned with the fact that Invicta decided not to benchmark its supercar against anything else on the market.
To Invicta’s credit, the publication found that the S1 was apparently a solid vehicle. It had accurate steering, a firm suspension that wasn’t jostled by bumps, and it even felt predictable at the limit. And this wouldn’t even be the only S1 variant. There would be the S1-420, an S1 featuring a Ford 4.6-liter V8, but tuned to 420 HP. And there would be another with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 from Ford’s SVT. The S1-600, as the name suggests, made 600 horses and claimed a top speed of 200 mph.
Now for your mission. As I said before, this supercar has a lot of parts bin content, but we’ll focus on just a couple of things. Early Invicta S1s had these taillights. Where did they come from?
That might be easy for you, so here’s something harder. These vents were found in at least one production car, what car do you think also shares its vents with the Invicta S1?
Finally, if you can identify any other parts, drop them down below! When you’re finished, click here to check out the result.
As Hagerty writes, in 2008, these cars cost about $156,000 to about $236,000. However, history repeated itself once again when Invicta was forced to shutter in 2012 after it owed 40,000 pounds in unpaid debt. It’s unclear how many total S1s were made, but the Goodwood Estate says that there are just seven S1-320s out there. Bristow figured that Invicta could make a profit selling just 20 of them a year, but Invicta couldn’t even do that.
Isn’t this just a rebodied Panoz?
Buick designed that door handle for the 1995 Riviera, but then GM proceeded to use it on almost every new model for the next 10 years
I enjoy when they take parts bin lighting and put them upside down or sideways.
the vents are Mustang, they just moved the one that was on the other side of the glove box to the middle. the center stack actually looks derivative of the basic 2009 mustang as well. considering the engine, this makes a little sense I suppose. The Tail Lights look JDM, but I cannot source them.
Doubtful, unless this is a later car and they changed the vents. These started production in 2001 but these style vents didn’t appear in mustangs until the 05 model.
Love that art-deco ad at the top.
How are there no seams around the entire body (aside from the doors). What happens if you damage the bumper?
maybe one big fiberglass tub? not uncommon for niche built-in-a-barn British cars, but yeah, an absolute headache to fix in a minor fender bender
B5 Passat laying down.
The vents look NB Miata, but they could be any Ford too
You’re so close. These look to be third gen Mitsubishi Eclipse vents, which also corresponds to the time period this car was made in. They are actually a very common swap to replace the eyeball vents in NB Miatas.
I don’t care which parts are where, I care that the handbrake is in the way of the damn gear lever. It NEEDS to be on the other side.
You put it down before driving…
It is located there to facilitate handbrake turn.
Taillights from the Passat 3BG (B5.5) and vents from Alfa Romeo 156 and probably a couple of other Alfas.
It only owed $40,000 pounds and the company went under?
Why does that feel so…… low?
The rules are different in the UK.
The car on the top reminds me of the early Aston Martin Virage, particularly the shoulder lines.
Its not a part lifting, but that front 3/4 shot screams late 90s Mitsubishi to me. Mostly 3000gt with a touch of 2nd gen Eclipse thrown in. Not so much from the rear.
I have a question for the resident car designers – how does this whole “parts bin” thing really work? Like, I get that the Th!nk EV (god that spelling is so stupid) was a partnership with Ford, so it makes sense that they would have permission to rummage through the Ford catalog. But, it seems like they’re also grabbing from a lot of other manufacturers as well. I would assume that all those components are under some kind of copyright, and I’m sure they’re not in partnerships with every manufacturer on that list. And, when they do weird stuff like turn parts sideways or upside down, do the original manufacturers get to sign off on how their parts are used? Or, are these cars so niche and low-volume that the major carmakers turn a blind eye? Some big companies like Apple and Disney are known for suing even tiny companies that infringe on their IP – I would imagine that certain carmakers would be the same way.
Bit late to the party here – Invicta owner here (one of the old ones). The Passat rear lights were chosen for the S1 because the clear central strip looks like the letter ‘I’ for Invicta. Michael Bristow driving me round the lanes of Wiltshire in an S1-600 was a memorable experience.
Vents look like they’re from a Mitsubishi Eclipse.
Those VW tailights look better sideways on the Invicta than the Passat it was cribbed from.
the picture makes them look more hexagonal than round in the bulb area, but you seem to have found the most likely candidate