Former type Private
Fate Acquired
Successor Rootes Group
Founded 1875
Founder(s) George Singer
Defunct 1956
Headquarters Coventry, United Kingdom
Area served United Kingdom
Commonwealth of Nations
Industry Automobile industry
Motorcycle until 1915
Bicycle industry until 1915
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.

Note: The British Singer company had no connection with the American Singer Company of Mount Vernon, New York, USA, which also made luxury cars from 1915 to 1920.

History[edit | edit source]

Singer bicycle with motorwheel

Singer motorcycle

Bicycles[edit | edit source]

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

Engines, three-wheelers and motorcycles[edit | edit source]

The company began manufacturing motorised three-wheelers in 1901, followed by motorwheels which were fitted to bicycles.[3] Singer developed a 222cc four-stroke single using an engine design bought from former Beeston employees Edwin Perks and Harold Birch. A unique feature of the engine was that the fuel tank and carburetor were housed in a wheel. 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.[4]

Singer motorcycle

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 350cc motorcycle to cover over sixty miles in an hour.[3]

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

Motor cars[edit | edit source]

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 Singer Junior was announced. By 1928 Singer was Britain's third largest car maker after Austin and Morris.[citation (source) needed] 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.

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. (the hunter name was also used on a later Chrysler model)

1948 Singer Nine Open Roadster (North America)

1948-54 Singer SM1500

Singer Hunter

Rootes[edit | edit source]

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 a more luxurious trim.

1960 Singer Gazelle Convertible

Singer Vogue

1968 Singer Vogue

Singer Chamois(sporty Hillman Imp)

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 the Rootes Group by Chrysler in 1967, many of the brands were to vanish and the Singer name disappeared forever in 1970.

Models[edit | edit source]

The main models produced were:

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 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 on 2011-06-06.
  3. 3.0 3.1 De Cet, Mirco (2005). in Quentin Daniel: The Complete Encyclopedia of Classic Motorcycles (in English). Rebo International. ISBN 13: 978-90-366-1497-9. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Singer". Retrieved on 2009-01-03.
  5. "Brief History of the Marque: Singer". Retrieved on 2009-01-03.

External links[edit | edit source]

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Template:Singer vehicle range

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