35mm · Film photography · Photography

Invacar

Amongst the various vintage and classic vehicles at the Lincoln steam rally were a couple of Invacars, which immediately caused a pang of nostalgia because I haven’t seen one for a long time. The Invacar was a fairly commonplace sight when I was a child back in the 70s and 80s with it’s distinctive 3-wheeler shape and uniform colour (they were all the same shade of ice-blue), but they haven’t been seen on the roads in any great numbers for a long time now. They tended (in my experience) to be referred to as Invalid Carriages, rather than Invacars, or (in the politically incorrect schoolyards that existed 1970s and 80s) by somewhat harsher and more unfavourable terms that I’ll not repeat here.

FILM - Invacar

The background of this distinctive little vehicle begins shortly after WWII when a fellow named Bert Greeves built a vehicle around a motorcycle converted for full manual control for use by a paralysed cousin. As there were many people living with disability following injuries sustained during the recent conflict, a commecial opportunity was spotted and government help was sought. The result was Invacar Ltd. and the cars were distributed to disabled drivers by the Ministry of Pensions up until the late 1970s when the contract ended.

The single-seater cars originally had a small engine, but a later upgrade resulted in far more power and it is reported that this gave a top speed of over 80mph. Despite the rakish angle of the passenger compartment, I doubt that this was the best idea and was likely akin to strapping a rocket engine to a paper airplane. I can only imagine the thrill (terror!) that would be induced in experiencing this speed in such a tiny, fibreglass-bodied Invacar. I believe they also had a tendency to catch fire on occasion too!

FILM - Invacar-2

Over time, as motability schemes were introduced that allowed people with disabilities to adapt regular vehicles for their use, so the need for these small cars fell away. In 2003, all the remaining Invacars still owned by the government were recalled and scrapped as they could no longer meet road safety regulations, although vehicles still in private ownership are still allowed to be used on the road apparently.

I had a roll of B&W film in the camera when I came across the car (actually there were two, but this “well loved” model was better placed and more interesting of the two for photographs) so I can’t show the distinctive shade of blue on here, but there will be many other photos around online should you choose to go looking.

FILM - Invacar-3

Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 & Eastman Double-X.

Taken on 17 August 2019

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