Monte Carlo winning Invicta

Photographing Donald Healey’s extraordinary pre-war rally car

Invicta low chassic 4 1/2 litre Monte Carlo winner

Before Donald Healey ever had the thought of building his own sports cars the Cornish ,ex WWI air ace, was a hugely successful rally driver.

Based from his garage in Perranporth on the Atlantic coast Healey competed in the Land’s End to John O Groats rally in an Ariel 10, for which he had the local franchise, noting that sales rose after the car was proven in competition. He also won the Brighton Rally and first RAC British rally in 1929 in a Triumph 7 .But it was his extraordinary success at one of the toughest of all international rallies that has become the stuff of legend.

His motorsport antics were noticed by Noel Macklin the founder of Invicta cars and Donald was signed up to compete in the inaugural Alpine Trial in 1930 with a 3.0litre Invicta Tourer winning the tortuous event over steep Austrian hill climbs ahead of German racing icon Hans Stuck. A new model featuring the famous low chassis and a Meadows 4 1/2 litre straight six was entered for the 1931 Monte Carlo rally with Healey selecting Stavenger in Norway for the start, carrying two passengers to share the driving and navigate.

During one such co-drive Donald was awoken to find the car hurtling into a ditch hitting a telegraph pole punching the rear axle back three inches locking on the brakes. After roadside repairs involving disconnecting the rear brakes completely and Jerry rigging the exhaust up over the back of the car they managed to get back on the route. After four long days of driving on treacherous mountain passes the team arrived in Monte Carlo without any penalties to undertake the final section, an obstacle driving test along the quay.

Back home in Perranporth Healey had practiced the course layout on a quiet road and he hurtled through it in record time clinching the prestigious trophy and achieving an ambition. He would drive the famous rally again in a different Invicta the following year finishing second.

To read the whole feature check out the January issue of Classic and Sports Car magazine. see: