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Singer was an automobile company founded in 1905 in Coventrymarker, England. It was acquired by the Rootes Group of the United Kingdommarker in 1956, who continued the brand until 1970. The British Singer company had no connection with the Singer company of Mount Vernonmarker, New York, USA, which made luxury cars from 1915 to 1920.




Established by George Singer in Coventrymarker to make bicycles in 1875, the company began manufacturing motorised three-wheelers in 1901, followed by motorwheels which were fitted to bicycles. Singer developed a 222cc four-stroke single using an engine design bought from former Beeston employees Edwin Perks and Frank Birch. A unique feature of the Perks-Birch design was that the engine, fuel tank, carburettor and low-tension magneto were all housed in a two-sided cast alloy spoked wheel. It was probably the first motor bicycle to be provided with magneto ignition. The design was used by Singer in the rear wheel and then the front wheel of a trike.
Singer bicycle with motorwheel
In 1904 they developed a range of more conventional motorcycles which included 346cc two strokes and, from 1911, sidevalve models of 299cc and 535cc. In 1913 they offered an open-frame 'ladies' model.
Singer motorcycle
In 1909 Singer built a series of racers and roadsters and entered several bikes in races, including the Isle of Manmarker Senior TT in 1914. George E. Stanley broke the one hour record at Brooklandsmarker race track on a Singer motorcycle in 1912, becoming the first ever rider of a 350cc motorcycle to cover over sixty miles in an hour.

Singer stopped building motorcycles at the outbreak of the First World War.

Motor cars

Singer made first four wheel car in 1905. It was made under licence from Lea-Francis and had a 3 cylinder 1400 cc engine. The first Singer designed car was the 4 cylinder 2.4 litre 12/14 of 1906. The engine was bought in from Aster. For 1907 the Lea-Francis design was dropped and a range of two, three and four cylinder models using White and Poppe engines launched. The Aster engined models were dropped in 1909 and a new range of larger cars introduced. All cars were now White and Poppe powered. In 1911 the first big seller appeared with the 1100cc Ten with Singer's own engine. The use of their own power plants spread through the range until by the outbreak of the World War I all models except the low-volume 3.3 litre 20hp were so equipped.

The Ten continued after World War I, with a redesign in 1923 including a new overhead valve engine. Six cylinder models were introduced in 1922. In 1927 the Ten engine grew to 1300 cc and a new light car the 850 cc overhead cam (ohc) engine, the big selling Junior was announced. By 1928 Singer was Britain's third largest car maker after Austin and Morris. The range continued in a very complex manner using developments of the ohc Junior engine first with the Nine, the 14/6 and the sporty 1 1/2 litre in 1933. The Nine became the Bantam in 1935. Externally the Bantam was very similar to the Morris Eight, and it was the first Singer to be fitted with a synchromesh gearbox, albeit with only three forward gears .

1933 Singer saloon
1934 Singer Nine sports
1934 Singer 1½-Litre Le Mans 2-Seater Sports
1936 Singer Bantam roadster

After World War II the pre war Nine, Ten and Twelve were initially re-introduced with little change. In 1948 the all new SM1500 with independent front suspension and a separate chassis was announced. It was, however, expensive at £799, and failed to sell well as Singer's rivals also got back into full production. The car was restyled to become the Hunter in 1954. The Hunter was available with a twin overhead cam version of the engine, but few were made.
1948 Singer Nine Open Roadster (North America)
1948-54 Singer SM1500
Singer Hunter


By 1956 the company was in financial difficulties and Rootes Brothers who had handled Singer sales since before World War 1 bought the company. The Singer brand was absorbed into the Rootes Group whose brands largely sold badge engineered versions of each others cars. The next Singer car, the Gazelle, was a Hillman Minx variant which retained the Singer ohc engine for the I and II versions but this too went in 1958 with the IIA. The Vogue which ran alongside the Gazelle from 1961 was a rebadged Hillman Super Minx with more luxurious trim.
1960 Singer Gazelle Convertible
Singer Vogue
1968 Singer Vogue
Singer Chamois

By 1970, Rootes were beginning to struggle financially. They had been acquired by the American Chrysler organisation, and founder Sir William had died in 1964. In April 1970, as part of a rationalisation process, the last Singer rolled off the assembly line, almost 100 years after George Singer built the very first cycle . The last car to carry the Singer name was an upmarket version of the rear engined Hillman Imp called the Chamois. With the take over of Rootes by Chrysler in 1967, many of the brands were to vanish and the Singer name disappeared forever in 1970.


The main models produced were:

See also


  1. History of Singer Cars - Classic Motor History Classic Motor History
  2. History of Singer Cars Classic Motor History

External links

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