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A Leaping Gazelle? 1959 Singer Gazelle

The Gazelle was the first car produced by Singer following the take-over of Singer in 1956 by the Rootes Group. Barn Find reader Michael brought this one to our attention. Located in Griffin, Ga, and for sale here on Craigslist for $2,800 with a clean title, this little piece of British engineering might just be something a bit different to start up conversations at a coffee and cars meet.

When the original Series I Gazelle was released by Rootes in 1956 it was very similar to the Hillman Minx which was produced by the same parent company. The Gazelle featured different grille and trim as well as an overhead cam engine from introduction through until 1958. This particular car is a Series III which introduced a number of running changes. The most obvious of these was the introduction of two-tone paintwork as featured on this car. The body and external trim on this car look to be in generally decent condition, but there are some indications that there may be some rust creeping into the equation. There appears to be rust in evidence at the bottom of the rear door on the driver’s side. This may not be an issue, and may be easy to resolve.

This shot of the interior gives greater concern about rust. I’m pretty sure that that’s “Planet Earth” that can be seen through the floor on the driver’s side. If it is then there may be more hiding that we can’t see. The interior is going to require some work to bring it back to life. While the front seat only appears to have one obvious tear, it is extremely dirty, and I’m not sure whether it would respond to deep cleaning. Door trims look pretty knocked about. For me the worst thing is that it appears that the timber capping at the top of the doors has been broken. Sourcing replacements may be an issue unless the new owner can find a good cabinet-maker to fabricate them. There are no shots of the rear passenger area, so it’s impossible to tell the condition which is a real shame.

Unfortunately there are no photos of the engine which is a real shame. However, the seller seems to be fairly sure that it will run with a bit of tinkering. Having had a bit to do with these engines, they are fairly easy to work on, and only require some pretty basic tools and mechanical knowledge. By the time this Gazelle leapt down the production line it would have featured the Hillman 4 cylinder engine of 1494cc. This was capable of accelerating the car from 0-60mph in around 22 seconds. The seller states that some new engine parts come with the car, along with manuals and period literature.

The Gazelle came from an era when British cars were remarkably easy to work on. The addition of a bit of real timber trim gave them a slightly more luxurious feel in an era when the country was still trying to get back on its feet following the ravages of World War II. This car is distinctive, it’s different and in 1958 there were less than 3,500 built. If the rust and corrosion isn’t too extensive, then this may well be quite a good project that would provide years of enjoyment to someone.


  1. Michael

    The front end looks like a frown.

    Like 0
  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    This is kind of a ‘luxury’ version of the Hillman Minx; think of the Sunbeam Rapier as being the ‘sporty’ version.

    Assuming the body is solid, these can be quite pleasant, if rather slow, cars. A lot of parts interchange with the Alpine sports car and other Rootes products of the era.

    I bought a ’58 Humber 80 (a NZ-only version of the Minx) in Auckland in 1981 for the princely sum of USD $100 and literally drove it home. It was quite conformable to drive, but sadly, tin worm attacks ultimately made it only suitable for parts in a short time.

    Like 3
    • bowlzo

      My first thought was how similar this car is to the Sunbeam Rapier convertible our family had around 1959 – it was the same color scheme, white with red trim. Neat little car, but totally impractical for our family of six! Dad, my brothers and I loved the car – our mother hated it! We ended up with a Dodge station wagon, and I’ve never seen a Sunbeam Rapier since!

      Like 1
  3. Joey Buzz

    Make sure you clean out the fish and chip’s from the back seat.

    Like 2
  4. Solosolo UK ken TILLY Member

    Where in the name of, did they get those horrible hubcaps?

    Like 0
    • Michael

      They look like pet water bowls.

      Like 0
    • Will Fox

      Ken, I was thinking they look like the caps Dodge used on the A100 vans in the late `60s. I almost see the triangle logo in the center Dodge used in those years. I may be wrong, but that’s the first vehicle for those that came to mind.

      Like 1
      • Bill W

        Yes, those are Dodge hubcaps, complete with Dodge’s Fratzog in the centre. The Fratzog was a three pointed star made up with three, three pointed stars.

        The designers who came up with the design registered the name “Fratzog”. Their bosses were not impressed with the name, but they were now stuck with it.

        Like 1
  5. Doug

    These were a tarted up Hillman Minx – good luck finding any parts this side of the pond – Look at the last year or 2 of Hemmings under “Hillman”, and you will find very few listings for either cars or parts from Hillman or Singer of this era. Of course, with the advent of 3d printing and other CAD aided techniques, almost any part can be scanned and accurately reproduced, but price vs. the ultimate value of the car may be prohibitive.

    Is a link to a company that does this type of work. – I have no affiliation with them, read about them in Hagerty magazine.

    Like 1
  6. luke arnott

    These things were dreadful rotboxes – can’t recall last time I saw one in the UK

    Like 0
  7. Solosolo UK ken TILLY Member

    Yep, they did rust a bit. Mine was a convertible, a very nice little car as long as you didn’t mind a 3 hour trip taking you about five hours if there was a headwind.

    Like 1
  8. Solosolo UK ken TILLY Member

    Pic herewith. Awaiting refurbished top.

    Like 4
    • Cj

      Great looking car. Anyway to pep up the engine without upgrading the drivetrain and brakes?

      Like 0
  9. James Martin

    Is that a sewing machine under hood

    Like 1
  10. FlyingDrumstick

    Always liked these in coupe form, the Rapier V. Very pleasant shape. Would be a lot of fun with a Duratec and 5 spd.

    Like 0
  11. chrlsful

    “…along with manuals and period literature….”
    hiding the other deterioration of the frnt seat.
    Sorry, I’ve become quite skeptical as I continue w/used rigs & their sellers.

    Like 0
  12. pat gill

    the 1725cc engine from a slightly later rapier or alpine would slot straight in and look the same, best find an overdrive gearbox to go with it as well, these are very rare in the UK, parts would be available here, rust repair panels would be quite easy to fabricate, door trim panels were just hardboard covered in vinyl, maybe the old covering would go again, well worth saving,

    Like 0

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