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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1959 Singer Gazelle convertible

Pick of the Day: 1959 Singer Gazelle convertible

At one point, all-but-forgotten Singer was Britain’s third-largest automaker

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I am breaking Pick of the Day rules with this Pick of the Day, a 1959 Singer Gazelle convertible being advertised on ClassicCars.com by its private seller in Manhattan Beach, California.

Except for the photographs and the details list, the entire text of the advertisement reads:

“1959 Singer Gazelle. Only 1 other owner. In excellent condition. A real showstopper!”

Singer, Pick of the Day: 1959 Singer Gazelle convertible, ClassicCars.com Journal

Normally, and under the Pick of the Day rules as set forth by Pickmaster Bob Golfen, the car would not be eligible for Pick consideration; why, there’s not even a photograph of the engine included in the advertisement! But I’m violating those rules because the car is so rare and this may be the only opportunity we have to share the story of Singer Motors.

By the way, this Singer Motors is a British company founded in 1905, and is neither Singer sewing machines nor Singer Vehicle Design, which reimagines and restores Porsches of more recent production. 

While the advertisement for the 1959 Singer Gazelle doesn’t even share the size of the vehicle’s engine, it does note that the engine is “running.” 

The Standard Catalog of Imported Cars reports that in 1956, Singer had become part of the Rootes Group and the Gazelle had become a rebadged Hillman Minx (with a different grille) but, at least at first, still powered by Singer’s 1497cc, 52.5-horsepower overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine linked to a 4-speed manual gearbox.

Top speed was reported to be 80 mph.

That Singer became part of the Rootes Group is ironic, since William Roote was an apprentice working for George Singer in 1912-13.

Singer, Pick of the Day: 1959 Singer Gazelle convertible, ClassicCars.com Journal

The Catalog also notes that while “almost forgotten by all except enthusiasts today, Singer was one of the old-time British motorcar firms, founded by George Singer at Coventry in 1905. Like many other early British manufacturers, Singer had started with bicycle, turning out ‘Xtraordinary’ two-wheelers — as well as tricycles — at his own plant beginning in 1876.”

Motorized bicycles and cyclecars followed, as did motorcycles that raced in the Isle of Man TT and set a one-hour distance record on a closed course.

Singer’s first proper automobiles were produced under license to Lea-Francis.

Singer, Pick of the Day: 1959 Singer Gazelle convertible, ClassicCars.com Journal

By 1908, the Catalog reports, financial woes forced Singer into receivership. Singer died in 1909. The company was reorganized and in 1926, according to the Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile, produced “one of Singer’s most important and successful models, the 848cc Junior. It had a single-OHC engine, being the smallest British car so equipped, and was the ancestor of a long line of OHC engines which only came to an end after the Rootes Group takeover brought pushrod Hillman Minx engines into Singers.”

The car was so successful that Singer trailed only Morris and Austin in sales among British automakers.

The company was re-organized again in the late 1930s, and after World War II was absorbed by the Rootes Group. The Singer brand was dissolved after Chrysler took control of Rootes in 1970. 

The featured 1959 Singer Gazelle convertible is being offered for $15,000. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

6 COMMENTS

  1. But, but- this thing is amazing. The awkward styling isn’t ugly, but endearing. The whole concept is heartwarming and almost Harry Potter-ish in execution. Like an original VW Beetle or Austin Mini, it looks as if it’s a loyal friend, not a machine. It- he/she wants a hug, and to take you on commonplace adventures in the world. Tho’ 80mph on those tires might be cause for heart failure.
    I’m an American muscle guy, Pontiac GTOs mostly. Love Porsches and Audi Quattros, McLaren, Pagani, Lambo and Ferrari. But this Lil guy looks like he’d be your loyal friend forever; cheap to run, cheap to fix, cheap to insure- and no one at the local car show would have one, or even know what he was… the very definition of exotic.
    We like this. Alot. That the Queen, and the car world don’t recognize simplicity as greatness hasn’t any influence on the reality.
    This is quite simply a great little car, and needs a good home.

  2. Very nice article. There are a total of 4 LHD convertible’s known to exist. All others are right hand drive. You can follow the restoration of my 1958 Singer Gazelle III Convertible on Instagram. Just search 1958 Singer Gazelle. There will be loads of information on this particular vehicle to come…and yes Larry I do have photos of the engine!

  3. I am fortunate enough to have a 1959 Gazelle Myself- and it’s a Right hand drive car. I had never heard of them before but once I saw it I had to have it!
    It’s been a wonderful experience.

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