Singer Car Reviews and Road Tests

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Singer Car Company

Founded by George Singer who began manufacturing cars under licence from Lea-Francis, namely the 8 and 12 hp underfloor engined models. The company would soon lose direction upon the death of Singer, finding itself at the mercy of receivers. But remarkably the company survived, and began the manufacture of small but high quality cars such as the three-cylinder Ten. In 1926 the Ten was renamed the “Senior”, so that an even smaller iteration could join the model line-up – it was naturally enough named the “Junior”. Both were successful, allowing Singer to acquire both the Calcott and Coventry Premier concerns, the added capacity allowing Singer to reach an all time high of 11,000 cars manufactured in a single year for 1927.

In 1932 the Junior was replaced by the Nine, this model proving to be very popular, particularly in sports car form. Continued financial difficulty would see the company embark on a rationalisation program that would see two factories close, and the bigger six cylinder cars dropped from the line-up. Following World War 2 Singer release the SM1500 saloon, however it never achieved sales expectations. In 1955 the company was taken over by the Rootes Group, not surprisingly since Willian Rootes had served his apprenticeship with Singer many years before. After the takeover the marque was simply used as a marketing exercise, the “Singer” badge affixed to Hillman’s to denote their more up-market status. The Singer Gazelle was simply a Minx with better trim, but as the years went on the Singer name only served to confuse the purchaser – and so the name was dropped altogether in 1970.

Collector Notes: Singer - then an independent British firm - was one of the first sports cars off the rank after World War 2. The Nine Roadster, with its overhead camshaft engine and light weight, was a highly attractive car. The SM 1500 sports followed in 1950. The first of the post-war Singer designs, it featured an OHC engine and independent front suspension. The engine was revamped in 1951 and the model continued until the end of 1954. Nice cars but, until recently, they have not been high in the appreciation stakes. Things, however, have started to change.

Frenchman Henri-Theodore Pigozzi had been importing Fiat’s for a time, and realised it would be even more lucrative to produce the Italian cars under license for the French market, thus in 1934 La Société Industrielle de Mécanique et de Carrosserie Automobile, or simply Simca for short. It would become an overnight success by building the Fiat 500 Topolino and 508 as the Cinq and Huit respectively.

By 1938 the Nanterre facility (on the Seine) was building some 20,000 cars per year. Following the war the company would resume production of the Cinq and Huit, then in 1951 the company would manufacture their very own iteration, the Aronde. The new car would become an overnight success, it soon being exported and garnering a stellar reputation for quality and reliability. Following the success of the Aronde, the company set about designing and manufacturing other genuine French iterations, while also expanding its operations.

Unic was bought in 1951, then Ford’s French operation was purchased three years later, greatly adding to the production capacity. In 1959 Simca acquired Talbot, but by then Chrysler had obtained a 15% stake in Simca as it grew its European manufacturing base (the British Rootes concern was also in Chrysler’s sights). By 1963 Chrysler held a majority share, at a time when their small 1000 and more modern 1100 and 1301/1501 models would ride the crest of unappalled popularity. By the early 1970’s Chrysler owned 100% of the company, but financial difficulties in the US would see the company sell of its foreign subsidiaries, Simca being sold to Peugeot-Citroën in 1978. Simca would be renamed Talbot, but even that name would be dropped a few years later.

Also see: The History of Simca (USA Edition)

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Singer Gazelle  

Singer Gazelle Series I

1956 - 1967
The Gazelle didn't deviate from standard mechanical specification, at a time when "tried and proven" was seen by manufacturers as a fail-safe marketing strategy. The Gazelle had an independent coil spring front, semi-elliptic leaf springs rear and Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes. Thankfully though, Rootes had relaced their archaic sidevalve engine in 1954, and so both the Minx and Gazelle were fitted with the new 1390cc engine. More>>
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Singer Chamois

Singer Chamois

1964 - 1970
Changes to the Singer iteration of the Hillman Imp included a beautiful polished walnut veneer dash, larger and much more comfortable seats, better instrumentation which included additional temperature and oil pressure gauges, and the heater came as standard kit. More>>
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