Almost anything that happens in Paris carries a shimmering glow in my eyes, but something really special is happening today — February 3, 2022 — at Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde à Paris auction.
A 1931 Invicta 41/2-Litre S-Type Low Chassis Sports — Lot 294 — is crossing the block in the Grand Palais.
Invictas are my favorite cars from the 1930s, mostly because I rode in one — it roared down the road and the scent of motor oil and blooming roses filled my nose — when I was a young boy.
I remember thinking that this car was far, far better than the one I saw in the “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” movie.
In 2020, just before COVID exploded all over the world, I was standing in the Grand Palais with Paul Hardiman, who is now a Linkage writer. All the wonderful cars of Bonhams’ 2020 Les Grandes Marques du Monde à Paris Auction were all around us, but I was entranced as Paul went over to an Invicta that was on offer — and showed me all the features that made it so special.
It’s always fun to see a good friend in Paris, and getting to learn so much about the car was a ton of fun.
The low-slung chassis — unusual for its day — and the mighty, torque-rich engine really stood out. The car was in the sublime worn-yet-cared-for state that Paul loves so much.
“It’s just a lovely car,” Paul said. “Owners gave them names.”
The one on sale on February 3 looks lovely as well. It’s one of 77 built, so it’s a rare car. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $1.2 million to $1.6 million, but I would not be surprised to see it sell for more.
The current collector-car market is just that hot right now.
But this car should never be a pampered collectible. This one has spent its life on the road, and I hope the new owner will regularly fire up that 6-cylinder engine. This car belongs on the narrow, twisty country roads of England and France, making wonderful noises and leaving a scent trail of oil and hot metal.
This car’s name is “Sentinal.”