1961 Singer Vogue review

Luxury for less than £1,000

The Rootes Group has a reputation for eschewing shoddy, ” tinny ” cars, preferring to offer quality, rugged construction and high-quality equipment in the models of the Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam and Singer range. That they intend to continue this policy will be evident to anyone who has driven the new Singer Vogue. Robert Glenton of the Sunday Express could find no fault with this new Singer except its name. We would not go so far as that but certainly many family-car motorists are going to find themselves very well provided for by this new 4-door Singer, and at a price of only £956 8s 11d. tax paid if they forego the various extras that are available.

The Vogue has an entirely new body shell but uses a 62 (net) b.h.p. version of the well-known Rootes 1,592-c.c. power unit (cast-iron head, single Solex d/d. carburetter) and has similar interior appointments to the popular Sunbeam Rapier, including a good floor gear-lever and overdrive, brought in by a r.h. stalk lever, in 3rd and top gear. There is polished walnut facia, with matching window sills, that has a rather shallow lockable cubbyhole with matching lid, a horizontal-type too-mph. speedometer (with trip with decimal and total mileometers, the former being zeroed by ” pulling a chain “), neat mirror controls, Clearly lettered, including tiny tumbler switches beneath the facia for heater fan and panel lighting, a good under-facia shelf, crashpadded, and rather fumbly recessed flick-switches for lights and wipers. A r.h. stalk, longer than the overdrive control, works direction-flashers so bright that they illuminate the tops of trees and illuminate the road when only sidelamps are in use (pity the chap behind!). There is Vynide upholstery, deep carpets, a. splendid heater and a fresh-air supply controlled by a clearlylabelled under-facia handle. Separate dials show fuel contents, oil pressure and water temperature and there is also an ammeter. The metric markings, so long a Routes’ feature, have, however, been deleted.

The whole conception of the Singer Vogue is of a small luxury car, a sort of poor person’s Humber. All four doors open at right angles for dignified entry, have sill-locks with safety overriders and shut ” expensively.” A happy design accident enables the windows in the front doors to be left open without promotion of draughts. The quarter-lights on the test car let in much rain but gutter’s will be fitted to production cars. The interior door handles are all of trigger type, although not quite soelaborate as on a Mercedes-Benz.

The pedals are biased to the right to clear the very broad gearbox tunnel and the steering wheel is set top high. The spare wheel is below the boot and can be wound down with the wheel-nut spanner, the driver’s window drops quickly in response to x1 turns of its handle, there is a neat oval vanity mirror in the near-side ‘vizor and, a notable Vogue feature, dual Lucas headlamps occupy the broad front wings (which appear to have mumps) for maximum night illumination and snob-appeal. The test car had a Lomax fog-lamp which proved its worth in the first mists of autumn.

In appearance the Vogue is neat, in no way gaudy, boot and bonnet seeming perhaps a bit stunted in relation to the long body, while the unmistakably Singer grille looks self-conscious between the new dual headlamps.

On the road the Singer Vogue retains the rather heavy, decidedly spongy Rootes steering, just not low geared at 3 turns lock-tolock and that rather dead ride, with which their cars are burdened, although for parking the steering is less heavy than when cornering against the strong castor action. The seats are comfortable without being palatial, the Lockheed drum brakes deceptively powerful if applied heavily (although front discs would be welcome) and the gear-change good, if harsh, with rather a low second gear. The essence of the car is quiet running and at 6o m.p.h. the loudest sound is subdued road wheel noise. Body rattles are very subdued. The engine goes deceptively close to 6.000 r.p.m. without fuss deceptively because it doesn’t pick up speed all that willingly; nor is it inaudible at its fast tick-over.

This is a family car and acceleration is not outstanding, while you have to be content with 25, 40 and 64 m.p.h. in the gears. However, 77 m.p.h. is available in overdrive 3rd, the absolute -maximum fin top, not overdrive top) being 85 m.p.h., which can be held indefinitely on motorways.

We took the Vogue to Oulton Park to see the Ferguson dominate the Gold Cup Race and it proved .a charming companion, comfortable, fast over the miles, and spacious. The range came out to a useful 259 miles and petrol consumption, on a run that included flat-out cruising down M t so that Oulton Park to West London took less than 31 hours, was 24.4 m.p.g. Towards the end of this run fuel starvation set in and the Rootes Service Station at Barlby Grove, which, most commendably, is open on a Saturday night, blew through the fuel lines so some petrol may have been lost. Another check, with more gentle driving, showed 25.2 m.p.g. ‘Ube gauge reads approximately one gallon when the tank is dry, and the it-gallon tank with its new press-button filler set flush on the ‘near-side rear wing, needs filling very slowly -as the level nears the top. After 800 miles oil consumption was nil. This latest Singer requires greasing only at 3.000rmile intervals and then only the prop.-shaft and hand-brake nipples need attention, and steering linkages being immune. Altogether Routes are to be congratulated on offering a very honest, typically British small luxury-car at a decidedly modest and competitive price.

The test car had a Pyc radio of great power and excellent tone, separate front seats (rather difficult to adjust), the aforesaid overdrive, a Smiths clock (that gained) and whitewall Dunlop ” Gold Seal ” tyres, bringing the total, taxed price to £1,o68 tos. without counting the fog-lamp. Even then, the Singer Vogue is remarkably good value for money.