1953 Singer 4AD Roadster
Previous owner: Owner was from Omaha up to 1972; Bernie and Janice Taulborg Collection
Number made: 3,440
Engine, etc.: 1497 cc; 4cyl.; 4 speed
Singer Motors Limited was a British car manufacturer founded by George Singer in 1874 as a bicycle manufacturer. In the late 1880’s he sold one of his machines to the Queen of Portugal, thus associating his name with quality which continued into his cars.
Singer was the first to make a small economy car that was a replica of a large car, showing a small car was a practical option. The Singer 10 was launched in 1912 and the entire first years’ supply was purchased by a Singer apprentice and car salesman, William Rootes. The car became a best seller.
The Singer Nine Roadster (9 horsepower) was introduce in 1939 and became the basis of post-war models.
The 4A Roadster appeared in 1950 and had a 4-speed gearbox. The 4AB came next and had a few styling changes to the radiator and sides. It also had independent front suspension. Steering was improved and it had hydro-mechanical brakes instead of the all-mechanical type. The 4AC was to have a slightly smaller engine than the 9 hp 4AB but only about a dozen were made. With a redesign, the Roadster had the option of a left-hand drive for export.
The 4AD had the modern 1500cc engine and was made for export only until 1953. The car sold remarkably well in America thanks to the post-war devaluation of the British pound and celebrity patronage in the United States. Marilyn Monroe, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Sammy Davis Jr., Lucille Ball, and Katharine Hepburn were all seen with Roadsters.
Economic difficulties that developed in the post war period prompted Singer shareholders to accept an offer to enter the Rootes organization which purchased Singer in 1955. Lord Rootes returned to the factory for the first time since working there as an apprentice and promised to “inject new life into the arteries of this old and distinguished firm.”
Newer models were introduced but given new names. While the Singer Gazelle, Vogue and Chamois models proved useful to sales, they prevented Singer from developing its own identity under Rootes.
In the late 1960’s the continued existence of Singer came under scrutiny by Rootes/Chrysler and the once famous marque was discontinued in 1970.
Sources: UK Singer Owners’ Club, http://www.singeroc.free-online.co.uk
North American Singer Owners’ Club, history of the 4AD and Singer: