Back To The Future

West Lothian

The Invacar
The Invacar

In 1946, the first accessible motor-driven trike was invented by engineer Bert Greeves for his paralysed cousin, he went on to establish the Invacar company and by 1948, the British Government began a service where they supplied and repaired these motorised tricycles, giving them free of charge to those who were eligible. The cars were motorised trikes with a fibreglass shell designed for one person with space for a folded wheelchair. The government scheme, under the Ministry of Health, saw them as prosthetics, believing the role of the NHS as being there to get you mobile.

Invacar A disabled person's car gets a push in the snow in Edinburgh. © The Scotsman Publications Ltd

The scheme proved extremely popular and by the 1970's thousands of Invacars were on the roads, however, over the years it had become noticeably clear that these cars were not particularly safe. Disability campaigners fought to remove these vehicles from the road as not only were they felt to be dangerous, but they were 'antisocial' and did not meet the needs of people with a disability who had families. Lord Snowdon, with the help of the racing driver, Graham Hill did much to support the campaign – stating in Parliament in 1974 that he believed that the three-wheeler should be phased out in favour of a production car that could be adapted to suit the needs of any disabled driver. Across the country many protests took place for disabled people to have better support with mobility, however, the Invacars remained popular with many disabled drivers.

The Motor Industry Research Association crash tested an invalid tricycle back in 1974 and found that it failed the then minimum standards and in July 1976, the government announced that the vehicles would be phased out with the Mobility Allowance replacing it. This was a new cash benefit, introduced by the Government to allow recipients to choose the best way of meeting their mobility needs, whether driving a car, using taxis or getting a mobility scooter.

Getting the Invacars off the road was a lengthy process with the final government owned vehicles only being recalled and scrapped in 2000, 44 years after the scheme had been abandoned.

Billy

Billy reminisces about the Invacar


The Invacar (abbreviated from "invalid carriage") was a small single-seater microcar vehicle designed for use by disabled drivers, and distributed for free.

Billy

Billy reminisces
about the Invacar

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