Singer 1,5 Litre Le Mans Sports

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1,5 Litre Le Mans Sports





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.

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. Calcott was purchased in 1926. 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.

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.

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. The first Bantams had two-bearing crankshafts 972cc. In 1938 the three-bearing engineof 1074cc was intoduced. The three speed gearbox was only synchro between 2nd and top.

Capitalising on the Nine's success, in May 1933 Singer had introduced a 1½-Litre Sports based on the existing six-cylinder 14hp model, and predictably followed that up with a Le Mans version in '34. The six-cylinder 1½-Litre's 7th and 8th place finishes at Le Mans in 1934 would prove to be the highlight of its endurance racing career. In trials, rallies and other competitions though, the 1½-litre Singer remained a force to be reckoned with.

This is the Singer works team's 1½-Litre (chassis number 'LM14', competitor number '25') which finished 3rd in the Rudge-Whitworth Cup and 8th overall in the 1934 Le Mans 24-Hour Race driven by Stanley Barnes, the Singer Competitions Manager, and works driver Alf Langley. It also entered the Ards TT that year but was timed out after pit stop problems. The other 1½-Litre car at Le Mans in 1934 was the Fox & Nichols prepared private entry driven by the aristocratic paring of the Hon Brian Lewis and John Hindmarsh (competitor number '26'). Both cars were driven to the circuit. A contemporary report records that the Lewis/Hindmarsh car was timed at 105mph with 'LM14' 'not much slower'. 'LM14' completed 1,615 miles at an average speed of 67mph.

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.

Three of the 1½-Litres were remodelled for trials and rallies with various modifications and known as the 'Three Graces' (and individually as 'This, That and t'Other' – 'LM14' being the latter). Among its long list of achievements is 1st overall in the 1936 RAC Rally, driven by Alf Langley, and numerous successes in trials such as the Sunbac Colmore Trophy Trial, the Exeter Trial and many others. These three so-called 'Crabtracks' survive in the UK but one is in pieces and yet to be restored.

After the Second World War the new Roadster and the Ten and Twelve saloons all returned to production 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 SM1500 was given a traditional radiator grille and renamed the Hunter in 1954. The Hunter was briefly available with an HRG-designed twin overhead-cam version of the engine but few were made.

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