Singer Motors

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Singer Motors Limited
Former type Private
Industry Automobile industry
Motorcycle until 1915
Bicycle industry until 1915
Fate Taken over
Successors Rootes Group
Founded 1875
Founders George Singer
Defunct 1970
Headquarters Coventry, United Kingdom
Area served United Kingdom
Commonwealth of Nations
Products Automobiles
Motorcycles until 1915
Bicycles until 1915

Singer Motors Limited was a British motor vehicle manufacturer, founded by George Singer in 1874 as a bicycle manufacturer in Coventry, England. From 1901 the company also manufactured cars.

Singer was the first motor manufacturer to make a small economy car that was a replica of a large car, showing a small car was a practical proposition.[1] With a four-cylinder ten horsepower engine the Singer 10 was launched at the 1912 Motor Show. William Rootes, Singer apprentice and consummate car-salesman, contracted to buy the entire first year's supply.[1] It became a best-seller.[1] Ultimately Singer's business was acquired by his Rootes Group in 1956, which continued the brand until 1970.

History[edit]

Singer bicycle with motorwheel
Singer motorcycle

Bicycles[edit]

Singer began his bicycle-making business in Coventry in 1874.[2]

Engines, three-wheelers and motorcycles[edit]

Singer began manufacturing motorised three-wheelers in 1901, followed by motorwheels which were fitted to bicycles.[3] Singer developed a 222 cc 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.

In 1904 the company developed a range of more conventional motorcycles which included 346 cc two strokes and, from 1911, side-valve models of 299 cc and 535 cc. In 1913 they offered an open-frame ladies model.[4]

Singer stopped building motorcycles at the outbreak of the First World War.[5]

Motorcycle racing

In 1909 Singer built a series of racers and roadsters and entered several bikes in races, including the Isle of Man Senior TT in 1914.[4] George E. Stanley broke the one hour record at Brooklands race track on a Singer motorcycle in 1912, becoming the first ever rider of a 350 cc motorcycle to cover over 60 miles (97 km) in an hour.[3]

Motor cars[edit]

Rodolph Fane De Salis (1854-1931), chairman in the 1920s.

Singer made their first four wheel car in 1905. It was designed by Alexander Craig and was a variant of a design he had done for Lea-Francis having a 2-cylinder 1853 or 2471 cc engine.[6]

Singer's part in the origin of Aston-Martin

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 four-cylinder 1100 cc Ten with Singer's own engine. The use of their own power plants spread through the range until by the outbreak of the First World War all models except the low-volume 3.3 litre 20 hp were so equipped.

Lionel Martin made his first ascent of Aston Hill in that hill-climbing competition in a tuned Singer 10 car, 4 April 1914. He repeated his success a month later and when he first registered his own car the following year he called it an Aston Martin.

The Ten continued after the war, with a redesign in 1923 including a new overhead-valve engine. Six-cylinder models were introduced in 1922. In 1921 Singer took over another Coventry car maker Coventry Premier and continued to sell a range of cars under that name until 1924.[6] Calcott was purchased in 1926.[6] For 1927 the Ten engine grew to 1300 cc and a new light car with 850 cc overhead cam (ohc) engine, the big selling Junior was announced and at the same time the Ten became the Senior. By 1928 Singer was Britain's third largest car maker after Austin and Morris.[7]

During the 1920s Singer, restricted by a built-in site acquired other companies for factory space. In 1926 they made 9,000 cars. In 1929 with seven factories and 8,000 employees they produced 28,000 cars though having just 15% they trailed far behind Austin and Morris which shared 60% of the market. Hampered by their new acquisitions, the cost of new machinery and a moving assembly line in their latest acquisition Singer's offerings were eclipsed by new models from their rivals; Austin, Morris and Hillman and then from 1932 the new Ford Model Y.[1]

The range continued in a very complex manner using developments of the ohc Junior engine first with the Nine (two bearing crank), the 14/6 and the sporty 1½-litre in 1933. The Nine became the Bantam in 1935. Externally the Bantam was very similar to the Morris Eight, had a three-bearing crankshaft and it was the first Singer to be fitted with a synchromesh gearbox, albeit with only three forward gears.[8]

The 1935 Le Mans Tourist Trophy race was a disaster, three of the four Singer 9 cars crashed because of steering failures before the fourth was withdrawn. In May 1936 W E Bullock who had been managing director from 1919 together with his son, general manager from 1931, resigned following criticism from the shareholders at their annual general meeting. No longer viable Singer & Co Limited was dissolved in December 1936 and what had been its business was transferred to a new company - Singer Motors Limited.[9]

Singer Motors Limited[edit]

After the Second World War the pre-war Nine, Ten and Twelve were initially re-introduced with little change. In 1948 the SM1500 with independent front suspension and a separate chassis was announced, still using the SOHC 1500cc engine. 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 an HRG-designed twin overhead-cam version of the engine, but few were made.

Rootes Group[edit]

By 1956 the business was in financial difficulties and Rootes Brothers, who had handled Singer sales since before the First World War, bought it. The Singer brand was absorbed into the Rootes Group, whose brands largely sold badge engineered versions of each other's cars. The next Singer car, the Gazelle, was a Hillman Minx variant that retained the pre-war designed Singer ohc engine for the I and II versions but this too went in 1958 when the IIA was given a push-rod engine. The Vogue, which ran alongside the Gazelle from 1961, was a rebadged Hillman Super Minx with more luxurious trim.

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 first cycle.[10] 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 begun in 1964 and completed in 1967, many of the brands were to vanish and the Singer name disappeared forever in 1970. The site of the Singer factory in Coventry is now occupied by Singer Hall, a hall of residence for Coventry University.

Models[edit]

The main models produced[11] were:
e. & o.e.

name
cylinders cubic

capacity

bore and

stroke

tax

horsepower

power output years in

production

Eight/Ten
2 sv
1,400 cc (85 cu in)
95 x 100
11.19
-
1905
Seven/Nine
2 sv
905 cc (55 cu in)
80 x90
7.94
-
1906-10
Twelve/Fourteen
2 sv
2,356 cc (144 cu in)
100 x 150
12.4
-
1906
Twelve/Fourteen
4 sv
1,810 cc (110 cu in)
80 x 90
15.87
-
1906–10
Ten
3 sv
1,358 cc (83 cu in)
80 x 90
11.9
-
1907
Twelve/Fifteen
4 sv
2,438 cc (149 cu in)
84 x 110
17.5
-
1907
Twenty/Twenty-two
4 sv
3,686 cc (225 cu in)
95 x 130
22.38
-
1907
Twenty/Twenty-five
4 sv
3,456 cc (211 cu in)
100 x 110
24.8
-
1908–10
Sixteen
4 sv
2,497 cc (152 cu in)
85 x 110
17.92
-
1909
Sixteen/Twenty
4 sv
2,799 cc (171 cu in)
90 x 110
20.09
-
1910
Twenty/Twenty-five
4 sv
4,712 cc (288 cu in)
100 x 150
24.8
-
1910
Fifteen
4 sv
2,614 cc (160 cu in)
80 x 130
15.87
-
1911–14
Twenty
4 sv
3,308 cc (202 cu in)
90 x 130
20.09
-
1911-15
Fourteen
4 sv
2,389 cc (146 cu in)
78 x 125
15.09
-
1912-14
Ten
4 sv
1,096 cc (67 cu in)
63 x 88
9.84
-
1912–16
Twenty-five
4 sv
4,084 cc (249 cu in)
100 x 130
24.8
-
1913-14
Senior
4 sv
2,614 cc (160 cu in)
80 x 130
15.87
30.2 bhp (22.5 kW; 30.6 PS) @ 2,150 rpm
1915
World War I
name
cylinders cubic

capacity

bore and

stroke

tax

horsepower

power output years in

production

Ten
4 sv
1,097 cc (67 cu in)
63 x 88
9.84
-
1919–23
Fifteen
6 sv
1,991 cc (121 cu in)
65 x 100
15.72
-
1921—1925
Ten/Twenty-six
4 ohv
1,308 cc (80 cu in)
63 x 105
9.84
-
1925–27
Eight
4
847 cc (52 cu in)
56 x 86
7.78
-
1926
Junior
4 sohc
850 cc (52 cu in)
-
1926–35
Fourteen/Thirty-four
6 ohv
1,776 cc (108 cu in)
63 x 95
14.76
-
1926
Fourteen/Thirty-four
6 ohv
1,792 cc (109 cu in)
65 x 90
15.72
-
1926
Six
6
-
1927
Eight Junior
4 ohc
848 cc (52 cu in)
56 x 86
7.78
16.5 bhp (12.3 kW; 16.7 PS) @ 3,250 rpm
1927-32
Ten
4
1,261 cc (77 cu in)
65 x 95
10.48
-
1927–32
Senior
4
1,571 cc (96 cu in)
69 x 105
11.81
1927–30
Singer 16
6 ohv
1,920 cc (117 cu in)
65.5 x 95
15.96
-
1929
Senior Six(Light Six)
6 sv
1,792 cc (109 cu in)
65 x 90
15.72
-
1930—31
Super Six
6 ohv
1,920 cc (117 cu in)
65.5 x 95
15.96
-
1930–31
2-litre
6 sohc
2,050 cc (125 cu in)
69.5 x 90
17.97
45 bhp (34 kW; 46 PS) @ 3,600 rpm
1933
Nine ifs fluidrive
4 sohc
972 cc (59 cu in)
60 x 86
8.93
31 bhp (23 kW; 31 PS) @ 4,800 rpm
1933-37
Nine Le Mans
4 sohc
972 cc (59 cu in)
60 x 86
8.93
35 bhp (26 kW; 35 PS) @ 4,500 rpm
1935-36
Nine Special Speed
4 sohc
972 cc (59 cu in)
60 x 86
8.93
38 bhp (28 kW; 39 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
1935
Twelve
4 sohc
1,442 cc (88 cu in)
69.5 x 95
11.98
32 bhp (24 kW; 32 PS) @ 3,600 rpm
1933–35
1½ litre Le Mans
6 sohc
1,493 cc (91 cu in)
59 x 91
12.95
48 bhp (36 kW; 49 PS) @ 4,600 rpm
1933-37
Fourteen Six
6 sohc
1,612 cc (98 cu in)
60 x 95
13.39
-
1933
Silent Six
6 sohc
2,162 cc (132 cu in)
69.5 x 95
17.97
-
1934
Continental
6 sohc
2,162 cc (132 cu in)
69.5 x 95
17.97
-
1934
Kaye Don Special
6 sohc
2,162 cc (132 cu in)
69.5 x 95
17.97
-
1934
Eleven fluidrive
4 sohc
1,459 cc (89 cu in)
66.5 x 105
11
39 bhp (29 kW; 40 PS) @ 4,000 rpm
1934-37
Eleven Airstream
4 sohc
1,584 cc (97 cu in)
69.5 x 105
11.98
39 bhp (29 kW; 40 PS) @ 4,000 rpm
1934-36
Sixteen Six ifs fluidrive
6 sohc
1,993 cc (122 cu in)
65 x 100
15.72
-
Aug 1934-
Silent Six
6 sohc
2,366 cc (144 cu in)
-
1934-
Bantam Nine
4 sohc
972 cc (59 cu in)
60 x 86
8.93
30 bhp (22 kW; 30 PS) @ 4,200 rpm
1936–38

——————————————————————————————————————————————

December 1936: Singer & Co Limited dissolved;
business transferred to Singer Motors Limited[9][12]

——————————————————————————————————————————————

name
cylinders cubic

capacity

bore and

stroke

tax

horsepower

power output years in

production

Twelve
4 sohc
1,525 cc (93 cu in)
68 x 105
11.47
1937–39
Bantam Nine
4 sohc
1,074 cc (66 cu in)
60 X 95
8.93
30 bhp (22 kW; 30 PS) @ 4,200 rpm
1938–40
Nine
4 sohc
1,074 cc (66 cu in)
60 X 95
8.93
30 bhp (22 kW; 30 PS) @ 4,200 rpm
1938–1947
Ten
4 sohc
1,193 cc (73 cu in)
63.25 x 95
9.92
37 bhp (28 kW; 38 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
1938–48
Super Ten
4 sohc
1,193 cc (73 cu in)
63.25 x 95
9.92
37 bhp (28 kW; 38 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
1938–48
9 Roadster
4 sohc
1,074 cc (66 cu in)
60 x 95
8.93
36 bhp (27 kW; 36 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
1939–40

1946–49

World War II
name
cylinders cubic

capacity

bore and

stroke

tax

horsepower

power output years in

production

Super Twelve
4 sohc
1,525 cc (93 cu in)
68 x 105
11.47
43 bhp (32 kW; 44 PS) @ 4,000 rpm
1947-1949
9 Roadster series 4A
4 sohc
1,074 cc (66 cu in)
60 x 95
-
36 bhp (27 kW; 36 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
9/1949–10/50
9 Roadster series 4AB
4 sohc
1,074 cc (66 cu in)
60 x 95
-
36 bhp (27 kW; 36 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
10/1950–1/53
9 Roadster series 4AC
4 sohc
1,194 cc (73 cu in)
48 bhp (36 kW; 49 PS) @ 4,200 rpm
1950–1953
SM Roadster series 4AD
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
-
58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) @ 4,600 rpm
1951–1955
SM1500 saloon
4 sohc
1,525 cc (93 cu in)
68 x 105
11.47
43 bhp (32 kW; 44 PS) @ 4,000 rpm
1948–54
SM1500 saloon
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
-
58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) @ 4,600 rpm
1951–54
½ ton Utility circa 1952 [13]
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
-
-
circa 1952
Hunter
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
-
58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) @ 4,600 rpm
1954–56
Hunter 75
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
-
75 bhp (56 kW; 76 PS) @ 5,250 rpm
1955–56
SMX prototype
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
-
48 bhp (36 kW; 49 PS) @ 4,500 rpm
1956

——————————————————————————————————————————————

December 1955: Singer Motors joins Rootes Group[14]

——————————————————————————————————————————————

name
cylinders cubic

capacity

bore and

stroke

tax

horsepower

power output years in

production

Gazelle I
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
52.5 bhp (39.1 kW; 53.2 PS) @ 4,500 rpm
1956–57
Gazelle II
4 sohc
1,497 cc (91 cu in)
73 x 89.4
52.5 bhp (39.1 kW; 53.2 PS) @ 4,500 rpm
1957–58
Gazelle IIA
4 ohv
Rootes engine

1,494 cc (91 cu in)

79 x 76.2
60.2 bhp (44.9 kW; 61.0 PS) @ 4,500 rpm
1958
Gazelle III
4 ohv
1,494 cc (91 cu in)
79 x 76.2
60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS) @ 4,500 rpm
1958–59
Gazelle IIIA
4 ohv
1,494 cc (91 cu in)
79 x 76.2
64 bhp (48 kW; 65 PS) @ 4,600 rpm
1959–60
Gazelle IIIB
4 ohv
1,494 cc (91 cu in)
79 x 76.2
60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS) @ 4,500 rpm
1960–61
Gazelle IIIC
4 ohv
1,592 cc (97 cu in)
81.5 x 76.2
63 bhp (47 kW; 64 PS) @ 4,100 rpm
1961–63
Gazelle V
4 ohv
1,592 cc (97 cu in)
81.5 x 76.2
67 bhp (50 kW; 68 PS) @ 4,100 rpm
1963–65
Gazelle VI
4 ohv
1,725 cc (105 cu in)
81.5 x 76.2
62.5 bhp (46.6 kW; 63.4 PS) @ 4,200 rpm
1965–67
New Gazelle
4 ohv
1,725 cc (105 cu in)
81.5 x 76.2
62.5 bhp (46.6 kW; 63.4 PS) @ 4,800 rpm

74 bhp (55 kW; 75 PS) @ 5,000 rpm

1967–70
Vogue I
4 ohv
1,592 cc (97 cu in)
81.5 x 76.2
66 bhp (49 kW; 67 PS) @ 4,800 rpm
1961–62
Vogue II
4 ohv
1,592 cc (97 cu in)
81.5 x 76.2
66 bhp (49 kW; 67 PS) @ 4,800 rpm
1963–64
Vogue III
4 ohv
1,592 cc (97 cu in)
81.5 x 76.2
78.5 bhp (58.5 kW; 79.6 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
1964–65
Vogue IV
4 ohv
1,725 cc (105 cu in)
81.5 x 82.55
80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
1965–66
New Vogue
4 ohv
1,725 cc (105 cu in)
81.5 x 82.55
80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS) @ 5,000 rpm
1966–70
Chamois
4 ohv
875 cc (53 cu in)
68 x 60.375
39 bhp (29 kW; 40 PS) @ 5,000
1965–70

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Kevin Atkinson The Singer Story, Cars, Commercial Vehicles, Bicycles, Motorcycles; Veloce Publishing ISBN 9781874105527
  1. ^ a b c d Anne Pimlott Baker, Bullock, William Edward (1877–1968), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  2. ^ "Advertisement for Singer bicycles and motor cycles, 1901.". Science & Society Picture Library. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  3. ^ a b De Cet, Mirco (2005). Quentin Daniel, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of Classic Motorcycles. Rebo International. ISBN 978-90-366-1497-9. 
  4. ^ a b "Singer". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  5. ^ "Brief History of the Marque: Singer". Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  6. ^ a b c Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1. 
  7. ^ Baldwin, N. (1994). A-Z of Cars of the 1920s. Devon, UK: Bay View Books. ISBN 1-870979-53-2. 
  8. ^ History of Singer Cars – Classic Motor History Classic Motor History[not in citation given]
  9. ^ a b Scheme of Arrangement, The Times, Thursday, Dec 10, 1936; pg. 21; Issue 47554; col G
  10. ^ History of Singer Cars Classic Motor History[not in citation given]
  11. ^ Kevin Atkinson, The Singer Story, Cars, Commercial Vehicles, Bicycles, Motorcycles; Veloce Publishing ISBN 9781874105527
  12. ^ High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, The Times, Friday, Dec 11, 1936; pg. 31; Issue 47555; col D
  13. ^ Dominion Motors advertisement for Singer Cars and Utilities, Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday, April 1, 1952, page 8 Retrieved from trove.nla.gov.au on 19 July 2012
  14. ^ Rootes To Take Over Singers Improved Offer Accepted, Vote After Warning On Bank Account The Times, Friday, Dec 30, 1955; pg. 8; Issue 53415; col B

External links[edit]