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Singer Company History

Published: 24th Mar 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!


Singer Archive

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The first Singer cars - built under licence from Lea-Francis and designed by Alex Craig - were produced in 1905 by George Singer, who had worked for Coventry Machinists before producing cycle, tricycles and then cars.

Singer died a year after the company went into receivership (in 1908) and the firm was re-established as Singer and Co. (1909) Ltd.

Early models from the new business included the successful Ten (introduced in 1912 and produced for military use during the First World War), and a 2.5-litre Sixteen. The first Tens - which were highly effective small cars of their time - featured three-cylinder engines, but smaller (1.1-litre) four-cylinder units were used later.

In the late 1920s the firm produced virtually all the components needed to build its cars. In 1932 the Nine replaced the Junior.

Further 1930s models included the overhead camshaft Eleven, a sporting variant of the Nine, plus the Ten and Twelve. The Nine Le Mans was powered by a one-litre ohc engine, and produced excellent performance for the time.

Following further financial problems in the mid-1930s (and plant closures) the firm was again re-organised, becoming Singer Motors Ltd. After World War II, during which the Singer company again contributed significantly to the War effort, the Coventry company re-introduced its Nine, Ten and Twelve models. The drophead models in particular are highly desirable today.

The new, up to date SM1500 saloon arrived in 1948, but it was comparatively expensive and sales were disappointing. The attractive Roadsters of the early 1950s and the Hunter saloon of 1955 also failed to produce healthy sales.

In trouble yet again, Rootes acquired the firm in 1956 (indeed William Rootes had served his apprenticeship with Singer!), and subsequent models were effectively badge-engineered, posher versions of Hillman models (such as the Minx-based Gazelle, Hunter-derived Vogue and Imp-sourced Chamois).

The 1956 Gazelle had bodywork similar to that of the new Hillman Minx, but initially was powered by Singer’s own 52bhp overhead camshaft engine, before the company switched over to, cheaper, conventional Hillman units.

The Singer name - always synonymous with high quality - finally disappeared from new cars in 1970, following the earlier takeover of Rootes by Chrysler.

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