AC Invacar 70
The AC Invacar 70 that Warrington Disability Partnership plans to purchase and restore to its former glory

After revealing plans to create the UK’s first pan-disability museum to showcase the rich and fascinating history of disability, Warrington Disability Partnership has now set its sights on buying and restoring an AC Invacar 70.

The charity, founded by Chief Executive Officer Dave Thompson MBE DL, first announced its plans to create a National Disability Museum back in early 2019, calling players in the industry to dig through their archives to help chronicle the remarkable evolution of the disability arena.

Recently, the Warrington-based organisation was informed that one of the most iconic vehicles associated with disability, the AC Invacar, is available to be purchased.

A brief history of the Invacar

In the mobility industry, and largely in the world of automobiles, the Invacar’s legacy has grown to legendary status over the years.

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First developed in 1948, the Invacar (abbreviated from “invalid carriage” – a term still used to officially describe mobility scooters today) was created to help support disabled servicemen following the Second World War.

The then British Ministry of Pensions contracted a number of companies to produce the vehicles from the late 40s through to the late 70s, with more than 50 variants of the three-wheeler produced over the decades.

The best-remembered models of the car are those produced in the 60s and 70s. Affectionately referred to by some as Noddy cars, the models boasted a fibreglass shell and the distinctive Ministry Blue colour – named after the Ministry of Health.

Over 30 years, tens of thousands of Invacars were manufactured and given to disabled people for free by the government.

The scheme was ended in 1977 as concerns surrounding safety mounted. In the same year, the Motability scheme was launched, which saw more disabled people turning away from Invacare’s in favour of conventional cars with modified options.

In 2003, all Invacars owned by the government were recalled and scrapped due to safety concerns, significantly reducing the remaining models still in circulation.

Interestingly, one of the contracted manufacturers of the Invacar was AC, the historic British car manufacturer founded in 1901. The company was best known for its iconic AC Shelby Cobra – dubbed the Ferrari killer due to its famous Le Mans victory in 1964.

Away from the glitz and glamour of flashy sports cars, it was the Invacar and lucrative government contract that proved to be the financial lifeblood of AC, enabling it to stay in business for so many years.

Keeping history alive

For many of the retailers in existence today, such as Kent Mobility, their origins in the mobility sector can be traced back to these famed vehicles, often working on the unique automobiles as part of government service and repair contracts.

Keen to ensure this significant part of government-issued mobility equipment is remembered, Warrington Disability Partnership’s Dave Thompson has issued an appeal to help the charity protect a slice of mobility history.

“Last year, with our partners at BAS (NW), we restored a vintage wheelchair which we took to Classic Car Shows, where it raised lots of interesting discussions which enabled us to get our message across to a new audience,” explained Dave.

“Yesterday [31 August 2020] we were informed about a pre-1970’s AC Invacar 70. During its day, it was the main form of motorised transport for many severely disabled people. Many of us will remember seeing them parked at pitch side at Wilderspool and other rugby and football stadiums.”

“We would like to purchase it to help us continue with our work in raising awareness about how far we have come in terms of mobility and transport for disabled people. It will no doubt create added interest when we take it to outside events and on show at the Centre at open days.”

The charity is now appealing for help to raise the £4,000 needed to buy it and has already received £1,220.

Those wishing to donate or find out more about the National Disability Project can contact Dave Thompson at DaveThompson@disabilitypartnership.org.uk or call 01925 240064.

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