$600 British Project: 1958 Singer Gazelle

Many of the British cars of the 1950’s border on micro car territory, like this Singer Gazelle. Small, original, and cheap, this Singer appears to be complete. With a solid potential to be a project, there are a few ideas that come to mind of what to do with this car. Offered for a mere $600.00 you could use it for whatever you pleased! Find it here on craigslist out of Saugerties, New York.

Clearly having sat for a while, this 1.5 liter engine has gained some rust, and foliage in its hibernation. The various rust seen under the hood is surface rust, none of which appears to have any serious issues. There is no word on the engines condition but if it were up to me, I would likely put a small block V8 in the nose of this Singer, like so many Ford Anglias, or I would opt for a newer 4 cylinder.

The interior is rather complete, but there are some concerns, mainly the moisture ridden carpet and floors. There is no information included with this Singer, but this car looks to have just enough left to do something with. The door panels are wavy, and need some attention, as does the front bench seat. The dash has some minor surface rust, and peeling, but overall is reasonable.

Much of the factory paint is present, and the body overall looks to be fair with some minor rust issues. The rocker panels need some attention back towards the rear wheel arch area. The passenger rocker panel has various surface rust throughout. The roof, hood, and passenger fender wears some surface rust as well. With no mention to underbody conditions, I wouldn’t be surprised if some rot was found. With its small stature, and cool styling, this Gazelle would make a neat gasser like this Ford Anglia I wrote up a few months back. Would you hotrod this Singer Gazelle?


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  1. Howard A Member

    Cars like this, with limited, or any appeal, need to be nice. I’m sure this was a car for the masses, and there’s got to be better examples. Looks like it was a neat car at one time. Parts car. ( btw, people in Saugerties are really cool folks)

  2. RayT Member

    For some strange reason — maybe because it’s the same car with fancier trim — this reminds me of my ’59 Hillman Minx. That one was a “barn find” of sorts — well, parking-lot find, anyway — that has sat for three years or so before I laid down a Benjamin and towed it home. With minimal work, it started right up and ran fine until I sold it to a neighbor for $200….

    Not a bad car, really, four-on-the-tree and all, though I’d hate to have to track down parts now. In 1966, that was pretty easy.

    Good high school-type memories, but I’d rather have my second car (a ’53 Kaiser) instead.

    Like 1
    • DrinkinGasoline

      No disrespect intended but who in the U.S. has ever owned, much less heard of a Hillman??

      • wayne

        There’s a Holman convertible down the street from me lol .

      • Jim

        I saw a Hillman parked down the street from me last Saturday in rainy California.

      • Dave Wright

        I have had a couple of Hillmans, they were not that rare when newer. I have also owned 3 Singers but they were all roadsters. Pre war, Singer built some great road race cars that bring serious money. They were very early in overhead cam technology.

      • Gear Head Engineer

        I’ve heard of a Hillman, although I never owned one. If I find the right deal on a Minx (or a Singer Gazelle, or a Sunbeam Rapier) convertible I will be all over it.

        But then again, the first car I restored was a Nash Metropolitan so I don’t claim to be mainstream.

        Like 1
      • Puhnto

        I think lots of us have heard of them, actually!

      • Blyndgesser

        Lack of knowledge isn’t something to be proud of.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi DG, whew, tough crowd, hey? When I was a kid in Milwaukee, ( late 50’s, 60’s) our family doctor made house calls, (remember those?) and he had a flair for odd cars. 1st he had a Borgwardt, then a Hillman, very similar to this.

      • RayT Member

        The guy who bought my Minx (for his girlfriend) also owned a Husky, the wagon version of the Minx. When it was totaled after an accident, I acquired its floor shift mechanism to install in my Minx. For a while, the car had TWO shift levers! Linkage sloppiness was such that either worked….

        Minxes were not uncommon in California back in the day.

      • nessy

        I have a Hillman Minx. I dig it.

      • nessy

        Let me see if I can post of photo of my 59 Hillman Minx. Sometimes, I can post photos here witt out a problem, while other times, the photos will not load up. Anyone else notice this?

        Like 1
      • Dave o

        I did in late 70s in Akron; traded my power mower for it. Ran good o

  3. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled messes of British steel and iron oxide, yearning to be driven again…

    This car is just nice enough that I’d love to have it just to get it back on the road.

    I’m ill that way. Would not recommend anyone else to try it…

    • Brian T Kearns

      I don’t know about that I’d try it

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Good for you, Brian! But I get in trouble when I *recommend* such a course of action. Friends’ significant others stop speaking to me!

  4. Royal

    I live an hour from Saugerties. If anyone wants me to head up and do a close inspection of this car, let me know. We can talk privately as to my fee. I think I know this guy up there and he has a ton of older classics lying about.

  5. Brian T Kearns

    I see a nice restorable car here I could actually be very happy with a car like this

  6. Jake

    I was just looking at this on Craigslist the other day. The price is right but it looks like it’s in need of a whole floor pan most likely and who makes those for this.

  7. wyatt

    …my 1960 Minx..I love it people love it..

  8. Ken Nelson Member

    What’s a Hillman? A Hillman is a small British car built for many decades in the UK – sort of like a Chevette with a British accent. Where have you been all your life Drinkingas?? There’s a reasonably strong Hillman club in the US driving & restoring these cars Their body metal was a bit heavier than US ones, and the Hillman X form, very stiff box chassis, was the basis for none other than the Sunbeam Alpine, which provided the platform for the Sunbeam Tiger – a very successful car.

    I happen to have a ’61 Hillman Minx Convertible with the extremely rare “EASIDRIVE” ELECTRIC 3 speed automatic transmission – the first and unfortunately last of its type. This autobox was based on twin coaxial electromagnetic powder clutches and a control system invented by – I think – the Eaton Corp. of Detroit back in the late ’50s for use in forklifts, as the powder clutch provided smoother action in use than a manual clutch. The Easidrive came out shortly before transistors took over the world, and had a “brain box” consisting of 8 electromagnetic relays inside a tin box, along with a thermal switch of some type and other bits. You put the column shifter into D, L, N, or R for reverse. On accelerating from a stop, the generator output controlled the clutch strength, and an electric “speedometer” box driven by a cable from the gearbox operated gearshifting switches inside the speedo box. It even has a throttle “kicker” for speeding up the engine to match gearbox on downshifts.
    With this interesting design, the Rootes Corp, which built the Hillmans, had a working automatic with no torque converter, which gave the fuel economy of a stick yet was a full automatic. Another note of US influence was in the body design, whose taillights mimicked those of the ’58 Chevy in the movie American Graffiti. So now you’ve heard more than you want to know about the Hillmans, right? But further, the Hillman Imp was a very successful small car in European racing – with an engine borrowed from a fire pumper – check that one out!

  9. Dovi65

    I’d clean it up, bring it back to as close as original as possible. A fun little Sunday cruiser

  10. Scot Carr

    ~ A ’59 Singer Gazelle 3 position drop head coupe was my first [of 2 first cars]
    ~ 1959 Singer Gazelle.

    • Raoul Robichaud

      Indeed, the Gazelle either in the convertible body, or two door hardtop were the most stylish of any imports in 1959-60.

  11. Bert

    I owned one of these Gazelles, always having a soft spot for the Rootes Group; have also had many Sunbeams, a Hillman, and even a Humber Super Snipe Estate! So how many people have owned all four makes of the old Rootes Group? I loved the Singer. It had common parts to the very plentiful Hillman version, and was incredibly well built. I would seriously fear taking on a rusty one like this, but it looks very complete. If you don’t mind spending hours welding, and twice the money the car will ever be worth, I would say save it and turn more heads per dollar than any other entry level classic.

  12. Bill

    Neat project. Rootes cars are actually pretty easy to find parts for. I would twin carn 1725 this baby!

  13. Joe

    Front end would look a lot better with those huge bumper guards removed!

    • Raoul Robichaud

      I frankly doubt the car came with those from the factory..

      Look like a poor attempt at a bush guard… a factory fit would not have had protruding open tubes below the bumper.

  14. Andy Frobig

    A small block would be a tight squeeze, but a 13B rotary wouldn’t!

  15. Smittydog

    Now, where’s the needle and thread?

  16. Paul B

    @DrinkinGasoline, Hillman was a fairly popular import in the U.S. in the 1950s until Chrysler took over the ailing Rootes Group and finished destroying it in the mid-late 1960s. Hillmans and their Singer and Sunbeam variants were very good cars for their day, and the Rootes Group was profitable and well regarded worldwide until the early 1960s. The attractive body design of these 1950s-’60s cars was by Raymond Loewy. They were made of very heavy steel in unitized construction, and the engines, gearboxes and running gear were all quite stout. Not exciting cars usually, but much better built in my opinion and personal experience than other British cars. Some good friends had a Sunbeam Rapier that ran and ran; on their recommendation my folks bought a ’67 Minx, and it also ran and ran without complaint, save for an occasional Lucas electrical glitch and one clutch replacement. The Singer Gazelle was the up-market luxury variant of the Hillman Minx, while Sunbeam was more sporting. Chrysler later consolidated everything under the Sunbeam name for export markets including the U.S. The Sunbeam Alpine roadster was built on a Hillman Husky compact wagon structure. So those super-valuable Sunbeam Tigers with Ford V8s? They have Hillman Husky skeletons.
    This car needs nearly everything and it wouldn’t be cheap, what with the rust in the rockers and probably elsewhere. Lots of bodywork needed, plus a complete refresh of the interior and mechanicals. It would never pay, but it could be a labor of love for someone with a very nice result.

  17. Paul B

    Could look nice like this when it’s done … though this one is a slightly newer model with the fins and different tail lamps. They all looked good.

  18. Paul B

    The front end without those bumper guards.

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