The Singer Story

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The Singer Story, by Kevin Atkinson. Veloce, £40.00.

A history of the Singer Company has been one of the very few gaps left in the one-make book field. Fortunately for historians and enthusiasts, this gap has been filled admirably by Kevin Atkinson.

It was an important book to write, because at one time Singer was one of the largest British car manufacturers, until things began to go wrong and the Rootes Group acquired the company. It had begun with bicycle manufacture in Coventry in 1874 and turned to cars and motorcycles from 1905; the last Singer car was made in 1970. So this is a long story. Singer sportscars were prominent in competition and endurance runs, and these are very well documented, including the “Autosports” period, with the Barnes brothers well in control. In fact, Atkinson follows the 12/50 Alvis book in including the results of many events in which Singers were entered, even listing drivers, competition numbers and awards in MCC trials. A whole chapter devoted to “The Brooklands Age”, about the pre-WW1 days of the track, is somewhat confused as it includes other races, and the production Singers of that era. This comment can be overruled by a splendid picture reminding us that no less a person than 19-year-old Alec lssigonis competed there in a Singer Ten Weymann saloon in 1925!

Although the author tells us that very few factory archives exist, he has made a very good job indeed of documenting Singer history, saying he has used only original materials, not distorting this with his own opinions. He includes information about all the Singer (and CoventryPremier) products, bicycles, cars, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles, with specification changes, prices. etc, and adds data about the many factories Singer purchased, the Company’s profits and financial problems, its personalities, etc. embellished with period advertisements and publicity shots. The pictures, many of competitions, are excellent and sensibly captioned, the index is complete and the Epilogue is by Robin Thorp, Singer OC Historian. The sporting element throughout the text is strong, with major and minor trials, rallies and races covered, and the steering failure in the 1935 TT which virtually ended Singer’s official competition participation analysed. The Candid,’ Provocatores and Autosports. Three Graces team cars are there; and what will MG folk say after reading that Cecil Kimber stripped down Singers for examination, often choosing to drive them instead of MGs! Only a few misprints. I rate this book very highly. W B