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!”
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.
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.
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.