The article last May headed “The Adventure of the Ill-Fated Singers” ended with the admission that I had been foiled in trying to locate three racing Singer Nines alleged to have gone to earth in a barn somewhere near the South Coast. However, “Dr. Watson” was promised that there might well be a sequel to the case of the missing Singers and meantime much interesting correspondence came in, from which it was apparent that, whatever these elusive Singers were, they were unlikely to be the remnants of the special lightweight team cars which came to grief so spectacularly during the 1935 TT.
If you wait long enough … and the other day I was able to resume pursuit of these cars and clear up some of the mystery. It seems that they are earlier Singers, but registered by the works in Coventry, and clearly competition cars. Four of them were acquired by a Singer Distributor, one being sold after the war. This must, I think, have been one of the team of red, white and blue Singers run in trials during the 1933 season by Barnes, Baker and Langley, although it may have been the year after; I am sure the Singer OC will put me right about this. The Singer which was sold was red and the two which have been retained are white and blue respectively. They are identical to normal Le Mans Singers, with slab fuel tanks and twin spare wheels behind, but have doorless bodies, now bearing racing numbers 19 and 31 respectively, a legacy of some sand-racing.
The other Singer is more intriguing. It, too, looks like a Le Mans two-seater, except that it has a larger slab-type petrol tank, so that only one spare wheel will fit between this and the rear cross-member. Petrol feeds and other essential services are duplicated, suggesting a Le Mans car. It is definitely a Nine and was registered by the works in May 1934, painted green. It has a chassis number earlier than those of the 1935 TT cars, so the inference is that it was raced at Le Mans in 1934. Indeed, it is described as having won that famous race. This, of course, is nonsense, but may have arisen from the fact that the Singer which ran at Le Mans in 1933 was the first British car of under 1,100 c.c. to qualify for the Rudge-Whitworth Cup, which could have given rise to the rumour that Singer “won Le Mans”. This performance was put up by the Barnes-Langley car that came in 13th and last, but was nevertheless a qualifier. It was, however, a hair-seater, so is not the car we are here concerned with. A whole host of Singers (or do I mean a chorus ?) competed at 1,c Mans in 1934, some Nines, some 1½-litres, and it is likely that this is one of them. It bears the racing number 48, so there is good reason to think that it is the car driven by Gordon Hendy and James Boulton in the 1935 Le Mans race, in which the lightweight pointed-tail Singers also competed, and in which it finished 19th overall.
“And now”, asks Dr. Watson, “where are these Singers to be found ?” The answer is that wild horses will not at present drag that information from me, because the cars are not for sale and are, indeed, in a sorry state, the possible Le Mans Singer in particular having been ravaged by sea air and exposure to the weather of many winters. But if anyone is prepared to make a decent offer for them and restore them properly, they might just be procurable. Any interest in this direction should be intimated to the writer, preferably through the Singer O.C.
Another Austin Seven celebration
Celebrations of the Jubilee Year of the Austin 7 continue. For instance, the 750 MC is to have a five-lap race for these cars at Silverstone on October 7th, the winner to receive the Esso Uniflow Trophy, and on this day all spectators who arrive in pre-war Austin Sevens will be admitted for 25p instead of 50p, while the driver of the Austin 7 coming the longest distance is to be given a bottle of champagne—don’t ask us how this will be computed and we hope the lucky recipient will wait to get home before draining the bottle!
V-E-V Miscellany.—A three-wheeler, probably built as a one-off in Yorkshire in about 1929, and apparently embodying Blériot-Whippet running gear, has come to light in Bedfordshire and is to be converted into a four-wheeler. A one-owner Riley Kestrel saloon changed hands recently in Berkshire for the purpose of renovation. Two chauffeurs, both approaching 90, are living near Newbury, one claiming to have driven the first car to enter China, a Renault in 1905, owned by the McBain family, two of whose sons raced at Brooklands, and the other having driven for Mr. Palmer of Huntley & Painters, in such cars as Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Metallurgique. etc.. and having attended the opening meeting at Brooklands in 1907. Referring to the claim made in a recent advertisment, Val Zetherin says more than two Squire cars still exist in the UK, and having taken over the Squire Manufacturing Co., he would like to know of any he has not traced. Steaming, Journal of the National Traction Engine Club, contained the usual interesting material in its August issue, including pictures of two Fowlers of No. 1 Ordnance Workshops returning front Denain to Dunkirk at the end of the 1914/18 war, a journey of at least 95 miles, which occupied five days. The latest issue of the Magazine of the Austin Seven Club’s Association has articles on the Military Austin 7, the exploits of Bill Scriven in pre-war trials, and the Austin 7-engined B4 Brough-Superior motorcycle. An Austin six-cylinder 18 or 20 with home-made truck body was encountered near Milton Common on the A40 road recently—could it be the saloon which we used to see in this area last year ? A Worthing Austin 7 enthusiast is hoping to attack Class H records of up to 10,000 miles at Monza with a replicabodied Ulster, if sponsorship is forthcoming.
From a report in the Oxford Mail we learn of the death, at the age of 88, of Ted Thornton, who worked for Lord Nuffield from the days when he was plain Mr. William Morris and who returned to Morris Motors, working as a tester until his retirement in 1950, with a break from about 1904 until 1914 when he was head chauffeur to Lord Bullough in Scotland, His Lordship apparently having fourteen cars. Mr. Thornton seems to have been associated at one time with R. W. A. Brewer, who conducted carburation experiments at Brooklands with a Decauville.
Cars in books, August 1963
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The Editor, BROOKLANDS GAZETTE
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