Some Assembly Required: 1956 Singer Roadster

Todd FitchBy Todd Fitch

Before you dismiss this 1956 Singer 4AD SM 1500 roadster as one of a handful of ’50s low-production sports cars that suffered from 10 pounds of wishful thinking in a five-pound reality-shaped bag, consider that the (also English) Singer pre-dates MG, having begun producing automobiles in the 19th century, and the company fielded racing cars as early as 1908. Compared to its contemporary MGs, Singers were lighter, faster, and better handling. A listing here on eBay offers this final-year SM 1500 Roadster located in Willoughby, Ohio.

Automobile Magazine published this lovely article naming the Singer a “Collectible Classic,” and extolling the virtues of the little SM1500, also known as the 4AD.

Coil springs replaced the leaf spring suspension in 1951, the same year the Singer gained a 4th forward cog in the gearbox. The listing includes pictures of the parts and the seller reckons this Roadster to be complete save for the instruments. The latter were sent out to be refurbished and vanished into the ether.

By 1956 the 1750 lb Roadster’s engine had gained a second carburetor and displaced 1500 CC for a total of 58 HP. Fewer than 3500 received this unit, Singer’s most-powerful. Some details courtesy of singercars.com, home of the North American Singer Owners Club, where owners share knowledge about these well-respected automobiles. While Singer aficionados comprise the pool of most likely buyers, there’s always room for one more. Will it be you?

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Comments

  1. Josh Mortensen Josh Mortensen Staff

    This brings back some good memories! If you don’t remember, we had a Singer SM for a while. Ours was a hot rod though with a built Volvo engine. It was a rocket ship! You can read about it here: http://barnfinds.com/our-newest-project-1954-singer-hot-rod/

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  2. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Hey, Josh, the Volvo-powered Singer – nice! Now I’m just waiting for someone to chime in about their 350 Chevy-powered Singer. There’s got to be one out there somewhere! ( However I can only condone keeping this feature car stock. 🙂 )

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    • John D.

      Why not? I was walking through the paddock at the SVRA vintage races at MidOhio and saw an Austin Mini with a SBC crammed into it. Even 283 would be a wild ride! I’m a MOPAR guy so I tend to the overkill of a 440.

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    • Gabby

      OK.

      My when I was younger story included a Singer with a SBC!

      A 6″ Aluminum rod 30 over 400ci Chevrolet small block with very high compression and a manual shifted turbo 400
      With a 5000 stall coupled to a BOP rear with 5:38 gears!

      My 4 bbl altered Singer was faster than his Volvo powered I’m sure!

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      • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

        Wow, Gabby, that sounds extreme, in a good way. I’m sure Mr. Singer never envisioned, well, anything you mentioned, but then again Singer focused heavily on racing. That combo in a car originally weighing less than a ton must have been a handful.

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  3. Ron Bunting

    What is not mentioned is that singers were overhead cam. . I’ve had three of them plus a couple of wrecks. They were supringly fast in their day . I rebuilt a few engines for various people and what they found surprising was the polished internals in the engine ,even trhe ordinary SM 1500 sedan had the same.Singers big problem was, that it was small manufacturer that made expensive cars which tried to compete with cheaper offerings from it’s Competitors .The Rootes Group took them over and singers became a dressed up Hillman. The roadsters with the English made body are great lightweight cars but there were also Singers sold in Australia with locally made bodies made by a whole slew of different coach builders so not too many survive and those that did were cursed with wood framing and body work you have to repair as zero parts can be found anywhere. 🙂

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  4. Deborah King

    There’s one under restoration near me, and I stop in periodically to admire the process. It look even worse than this one! I watched them install some of the wood, which had been hand steamed and bent. Also watched them cover the handmade dash. I hear it’s finally back from the paint shop, but alas, I’ve been laid up after foot surgery for the past 3 months and can’t visit.

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  5. Will Owen

    As I recall the Singer engine was the default for those bare-bones HRG cars, one of those hardcore Brits that stuck with solid axles at both ends and leaf springs somewhat less flexible than the frame. Amazing how many cars those folks fielded that were exercises in 19th C engineering and they STILL whipped the smartypants Continentals … for a while anyway.

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  6. Bob Gressard

    I have both Singers and Tseries MGs. The TD will beat a Singer sm1500 any day. The Singer is a great car don’t get me wrong but it is sprung way too soft. It tends to bottom out in tight corners and the gearing is meant for slow takeoff. Nice driving car for road use. I saw this car today. It is a coach built car so some skills are involved to get it back to running condition. The engine gear box are unknown. There are no spares except lucas parts to be had. When done they don’t bring much. You will be a brave one to take this on. Bob

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  7. Clay Bryant

    I bummed a very enjoyable ride in one of these out in Cal a couple years ago and it was a nice open air automobile. I’ve driven Corvettes for close to 50 years but this was a nice change. I don’t know if the exhaust was supposed to sound like that but it harkened back to early yearsof riding in a Piper Cub J3. I think if a person is inclined to really open up your “senses” this is a good way to go. As you get on in life it’s not a peddle to the metal thing all the time. I can say one thing . It was definitely a head turner and garnered a lot of waves……..

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