“The Mays White Invicta”
In single family ownership for over fifty years, The Ex-Raymond Mays, Shesley Walsh International Sports Car Class Record Breaking & Brooklands Mountain Circuit Class Lap Record Breaking,
1932 Invicta S-Type “Low Chassis” Competition Tourer
Coachwork by Carbodies
Chassis No. S 119
Engine No. 7517
Registration No. TL 2327
We are proud to present for sale here The Mays White Invicta – the very same car on which that great patron of British motorsport, Raymond Mays, broke both the International Sports Car class record at Shelsley Walsh and Brooklands Mountain Circuit class lap record during the 1932 season.
One of the two “White Invictas” driven by Mays, this car, chassis no. S 119, is undoubtedly one of most successful competition-historied examples of the desirable S-Type “Low Chassis” Invicta extant. It comes from single family ownership spanning over fifty years and is presented for sale in remarkably original condition. It retains the special competition 4½-Litre Six-Cylinder Meadows engine (no. 7517) that was fitted to this car from new at Mays’ premises at Bourne, Lincolnshire. All of the major running gear is original to chassis no. S 119 as is the Carbodies 2/4-seater body and a good proportion of the upholstery.
Presented for sale here then is a rare opportunity to acquire a highly original and sought-after pre-war sporting motorcar benefitting from both long-term ownership and quite exceptional competition pedigree.
The First White Invicta – Chassis No. S 35
Contained within the extensive history file offered with ‘S 119’ are copies of two articles written by the long-term owner of the car, Duncan McGregor. Along with Derek Green, Duncan McGregor had discovered the full history of the two White Invicitas that Mays campaigned during the 1931 and 1932 seasons and wrote two articles entitled ‘The White Invictas’ Part 1 – 1931 and Part 2 -1932. These articles are extremely informative and well worth reading as they cover the history of the two cars particularly well. In order to fully comprehend the history of this car, ‘S 119,’ it is important to first cover some of the history of the former White Invicta, ‘S 35.’
In brief terms, the first White Invicta, chassis no. S 35 had been purchased from Noel Macklin of Invicta by Raymond Mays on behalf of the India Tyre & Rubber Co. of Inchinnan, Scotland. Along with Mays’ incredibly potent supercharged Villiers Vauxhall, the Invicta was to be used to demonstrate the qualities of India Tyres to any sceptics. Registered PL 5676 in February 1931, ‘S 35’ was originally fitted with engine 7410 and was to be taken on a six-week tour of distributors of India tyres. Macklin was excited by the marketing opportunities that the tyre testing would provide and therefore offered to supply spare parts free of charge. The engine suppliers, Meadows of Wolverhampton, were also keen to use the opportunity to promote their products and agreed to supply a special competition engine for use in motorsport events later on in the season. The modifications of this engine are best described by Duncan McGregor: “…..modifications had been discussed with designer Mr. Crump and drawings had been prepared by Peter Berthon and Murray Jamieson at Bourne. The alterations included cottered rather than slotted valves, lightened rockers and pushrods, a very light flywheel and high compression, solid skirt BHB pistons to run on Methanol. Although it was impractical to re-design the crankshaft, it was quite rightly discerned that the standard connecting rods would not survive and a set of very superior rods was designed with fully-floating small ends and 4-bolt big ends. The drawings were taken to Meadows, where Crump approved them and agreed that the engine would be ready for bench tests at the end of the tyre demonstration tour.”
The six-week tour of the distributors was a success with the India Tyre management team giving talks to the distributors followed up by Mays describing his experiences with India Tyres and giving spirited exhibition drives to those distributors either bold or inebriated enough to volunteer. At the end of the tour Mays concluded that he was impressed with the car and pleased to have use of it for the 1931 season. As promised, Meadows had produced the special competition engine (No. 7517) and sent it, along with one of their best men, Mr. Buckle, to Mays’ workshops at Bourne to be fitted. Running on Methanol through two bronze Amal carburettors the engine produced 158bhp and apparently suffered very few problems. To this end Mays apparently employed the poor Mr. Buckle to work tirelessly on the ever-troublesome Villiers engine throughout the season instead.
The competition successes of ‘S 35’ throughout the 1931 season are well detailed by Duncan McGregor in the articles and are too numerous to mention here. Suffice to say the car appeared at many of the top events of the season including: Brooklands, Shelsley Walsh and Skegness.
The Second White Invicta – Chassis No. S 119 (this car)
In ‘Split Seconds’ Raymond Mays’ autobiography he states that ‘..the India Tyre Co. were pleased with our efforts and allowed me to keep the Invicta for the 1932 season.”
This statement was actually incorrect and caused a great deal of confusion in the Invicta world for many years. In Part 2 of Duncan McGregor’s articles on the White Invictas he explains how an article by Richard Chapman in Veteran and Vintage magazine of March 1969 cleared up the confusion.
Chapman, along with John Turner, had worked for Mays during the 1932 season and explained that the Invicta used for the ’32 season was an entirely new car. Finished in Mays’ chosen colour scheme of white with blue upholstery, chassis no. S 119, as offered for sale here, was bodied by Carbodies and registered TL 2327. Whilst it was an entirely different car, Mays had managed to retain the special competition Meadows engine and remarkably the history file contains images of the chassis of ‘S 119’ being drilled and this engine being fitted at Bourne in 1932. Chapman also explains in detail how ‘S 119’ was lightened in every way possible to enhance the performance whilst keeping within the regulations. Using the Villiers in the racing car classes and the Invicta for the sports car classes Mays enjoyed a hugely successful season and once again it is Duncan McGregor who perhaps best describes Mays’ season with ‘S 119,’ thus we quote him here:
“The first event of the 1932 season was the BARC Whitsun Brooklands meeting on 16th May. The Invicta was entered in the Nottingham Senior and Lightning Mountain Handicaps and thanks to the previous year’s success with S35, was on scratch with cars such as Earl Howe’s blown G.P. Bugatti and Whitney Straight’s blown 2.6 litre Maserati, which seems a bit harsh in retrospect. In the first race he was unplaced and managed 4th in the second with a fastest lap at 69.74mph which was a new class C (3 litre – 5 litre) lap record although the smaller, blown cars were quicker.
At the Shelsley meeting on 25th June, the Villiers achieved 2nd FTD to Howe’s Bugatti and the Invicta won both sports and racing sections of the 4 litre class at 47.4 secs. This again won the British Championship Cup, was nearly 7 seconds ahead of the runner-up and only 0 .2 sec slower than Howe’s blown 7 litre Mercedes which won the unlimited classes.
The August Bank Holiday Brooklands meeting on 1st August suffered showers and in the August Senior Mountain Handicap there were several spins and Dr. Roth’s Talbot demolished a great many markers but, according to Boddy, “Mays brought the Invicta through steadily and skilfully from scratch” failing to catch Tom Delaney’s blown Lea Francis, to which he had given 70 secs start, by only 0.2 sec. He improved on this in the lightening Mountain Handicap coming through again from scratch to win at 69.5mph with a fastest lap at 71.39mph, then the fastest lap ever by a British sports car, although Mays’ class C record had been taken by George Eyston in Kaye Don’s 4.9 litre blown Bugatti.
By this time the consistent success and reliability of the White Invictas had become a matter of general comment such as the following letter to The Autocar: – “As a keen follower of motor-racing, I should like to comment on the extraordinary performance of Raymond Mays’ white Invicta. I have seen this car perform at Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh, and think it only fair to make individual mention of the noticeable speed and reliability of this car. If Invictas can perform as well as Raymond Mays’ car, surely a team of this make would do well in all the road races.”
The Shelsley meeting on 3rd September was a great day for the Invicta, for in the absence of the Villiers which broke its crankshaft on the road on the way from Malvern, Mays compensated finally beating Howe’s big Mercedes to take the outright sports car record at 45.6 secs as well as his now customary class wins and British Championship Cup.
The last competitive outing for Mays in the white Invicta was at the BARC Autumn Brooklands meeting on 10th September when he was among those invited to enter the 15 lap Mountain Championship Scratch Race for the 12 fastest Mountain Circuit cars of the year. In the absence of Norman Black’s ex-Birkin/Straight Maserati, he managed 2nd place, not surprisingly, well behind Malcolm Campbell’s blown 4 litre Sunbeam Tiger, but displayed remarkable consistency in doing no fewer than three of the laps on exactly the same time, and lapped Dudley Froy who was in Kay Petre’s black Invicta…..”
A remarkable season then for Mays, who, with ‘S 119,’ the very car offered for sale here, had successfully proven that the S-Type Invicta was not only an extremely good looking and stylish British sports-tourer, but that, in modified form, could be a formidable competitor to the best supercharged Grand Prix cars Europe had to offer. Mays’ success with ‘S 119’ has been supported in retrospective events by the likes of ex-Le Mans racer Alain De Cadenet who has clearly demonstrated how well Invictas can perform against road equipped Grand Prix cars at The Goodwood Revival Meetings in recent years. Raymond Mays, of course, went on to found E.R.A. (English Racing Automobiles) in turn producing the most successful British voiturette racing car of the pre, and immediate post-war period before establishing B.R.M. (British Racing Motors) just after The Second World War – ultimately winning the Formula One Constructors’ World Championship in 1962.
Another nice feature of the history file offered with ‘S 119’ is the original buff logbook showing Raymond Mays as the first custodian of the car. It also shows the ownership trial of ‘S 119’ from new. According to Mays he sold the car to Humphrey Cook at the end of the 1932 season, but that Cook suffered a minor shunt on Park Lane, so promptly sold the car the following day. It then passed through three different owners (although it may have been more during the war years) before it was purchased by Stanley Porter of Belfast in 1950. Porter competed in hillclimbs aboard ‘S 119’ and enjoyed some notable successes. A selection of photographs of Porter competing in ‘S 119’ are included in the history file. In 1955 ownership of ‘S 119’ passed to a Mr. John Brown, of Co. Down. At some stage between 1955 and the early 1960s the Invicta was taken to the former British Colony of Aden in the Middle East (now in the southern part of the Republic of Yemen) either with a serving soldier or a resident there.
The last name to appear on the original buff logbook is Ian Delaford. Delaford and Duncan McGregor were friends studying Civil Engineering at Kingston College together. Whilst on holiday with his family in Aden, Delaford was shown the white painted Invicta. Knowing that McGregor was interested in motor cars, Ian Delaford took photographs of the car and showed the photographs to his friend upon his return to college (these photographs are also included in the history file.) By this stage ‘S 119’ had been registered with a local plate (ADN 3631) thus it was difficult to identify the car exactly. Somehow Duncan McGregor was able to work out that it could be the Mays car and when Delaford returned to Aden later that year he was able to confirm this to be the case. Between the friends, they worked out a plan to get the car back to the UK. Being impoverished students, the plan was funded by Ian Delaford’s grandmother. The car was shipped from the Middle East and photographs on file show the car being towed along the dock by a Willys/Ford jeep. Duncan McGregor owned a half share in the car and ‘S 119’ was subsequently stored in his parents’ garage.
As one can imagine, ‘S 119’ was in rather poor condition but crucially remained highly original and complete as the photographs show. The car remained in the McGregors’ stable and at some stage in the early 1980s, Duncan McGregor and his partner purchased Delaford’s share. Between the late 1980s and early 2000s McGregor and his stepson gently restored ‘S 119’ carefully recording the restoration including the special engine internals – once again a vast quantity of photographs contained in the history file document the work carried out. A stickler for originality and preservation, Duncan McGregor was well ahead of his time in many ways. To this end, anything that could be retained as original, was. The original competition engine was rebuilt using as many of the special features as possible, the original body was retained and, where possible, the original upholstery left in situ. Upon completion of the project, McGregor and his family used the car for numerous events.
Offered for sale for the first time since 1965, The Mays White Invicta, chassis no. S 119, comes from a long-term single-family ownership and is, of course, eligible for a plethora of top-flight international historic motoring events. As a result of Duncan McGregor’s sympathetic restoration and the family’s careful maintenance thereafter, this superb example of the S-Type Invicta remains one of the most original competition-historied sports cars of the period.
A car on which one of the greatest champions of British Motorsport broke records at Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh, ‘S 119’ is supplied with a fascinating history file and photographic record detailing the history of the car from its original preparation for competition to the present day. Viewing of The Mays White Invicta and the accompanying historical records is welcome at our showroom by appointment.