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Assembly Required: 1953 Singer 4AD Roadster

1953 Singer 4AD

We love the rare, unusual, and odd cars that are often overlooked by mainstream collectors. If we weren’t so into oddballs, we would have likely overlooked this interesting little roadster. Of all the British cars we have featured over the years, we don’t think we have ever featured a Singer. This 1953 Singer 4AD is rather rare, but sadly a previous owner disassembled it for restoration in the ’70s and it has been sitting in pieces ever since. Putting it back together could be a challenge, but the seller has the previous owner’s disassembly notes and a couple of Singer manuals. As an added bonus, they have a number of extra parts that go along with the car. Have a look at this Singer project here on eBay.

Singer 4AD parts

Being in pieces might seem like this car’s biggest issue, but we think the fact that the VIN plate is missing to be a bigger concern. Without it, this car is nothing more than a parts car. The seller claims they are working on getting a replacement made, but we would be a bit nervous of licensing and registering it with a replacement VIN. Let’s hope they have enough documentation to keep legal issues to a minimum.

Singer 4AD in Pieces

Singer was a rather small manufacturer based in Coventry, England. The company started out building motorcycles and three-wheelers, before eventually building cars. Their small cars went on to be quite successful and a Singer even played a signification role in the founding of Aston Martin. Eventually the brand was bought out by a former Singer apprentice, William Rootes, and his company the Rootes Group. Singer might not be a name we hear often in the States, but the company played a signification role in shaping the British automotive industry.

Singer 4AD on trailer

This Roadster looks to be simple enough that just about anyone should be able to put it back together with a good manual. We are sure there will be unforeseen issues, but that wouldn’t deter us from taking this project on. The missing VIN on the other hand would. Depending on the state, registering it might not be a huge impediment, but we would want to check with our DMV before throwing down any cash. So would you take on this trailer of puzzle pieces or would you leave it in the barn?


  1. Charles Gould

    That’s more like it! Excellent feature and an interesting project. I suspect that diligent research would reveal that Singer also placed the serial number elsewhere on the car, either on the frame or body panels, and sources may be able to correlate the engine number to a specific serial number, in which case, a reproduction data plate may not be such a huge issue, particularly if the seller has paperwork to support his purchase and ownership of the car.

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  2. Dave Wight

    I have done a couple of these cars, they are interesting in several ways, typical early 50’s English sports car but with an overhead cam engine. The brakes can be a nightmare, they are 1/2 hydraulic and 1/2 mechanical. The first one I bought about 1980, at first thought it was a Morgan…….then the learning started. There is an active club in England……lots of ash wood in the car like the MG TD’s……..you kind of heard them down the road, lots of flex in the bodies. Fun car but needs to be bought cheap as they do not have the resale of an MG and can be equally expensive to restore. Parts are more difficult to find.

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  3. rancho bella

    I like these. Upside is left hand drive, the questionable side is, what is the market in America for these. It is pretty obvious that you would wrap up a few bucks in it even if you do all the work. Sooo I reckon labor of love is the only reasoning.

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  4. Rick

    I’d build it, but I’d find a later 4 banger & 5 speed that fit to bolt in and upgrade the brakes and suspension while I was at it. I’d make the body and interior look stock and even the wheels and when fninshed it’d be a really cool driver.These cars aren’t that valuable or rare enough to warrant a restoration to OEM specs

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  5. Dave Wight

    Pre-war Singer cars can be very expensive and sought after…………they were very competitive lemans cars but the post war cars are mass produced in an attempt to compete in the market with MG.

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  6. CarGuy

    There is a beautifully restored 1953 Singer at the Classic Car Collection in Kearney, NE, where I recently retired as director. It was one of the cars that we drove in parades and such because it was so rare. Ran like a 1953 British car, but was a real kick to drive. It’s bright yellow color drew a lot of attention. Didn’t take a lot to get it back on the road. Parts are readily available through a place in Texas (we rebuilt the front brakes and the master cylinder, all with NOS parts. Google image the 1953 Singer and you’ll see Marilyn Monroe and Sammy Davis Jr. with a 1953 Singer. Not as popular as the Sunbeam or the Hillmans, but still a fun car to own and drive.

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    • Clay B

      Rode in one of these this last year out in SealBeach.Had problems getting out of it’s own way but sure had a lot of compliments and stares at the stop lights.I’ve been a Corvette man for years but this was enjoyable too.(You’ll never meet yourself coming down the street)

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    • Clay B

      Need to get out to Kearney.I’m from York.Have heard a lot about the collection.For all you Interstate 80 travelers,stop at the Classic Car Collection and stretch your legs and eyeballs.

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  7. Thomas

    Nice article in Automobile magazine a few years back about singers….(just so happens to be my dad’s car)


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  8. Peter McKercher

    Serial number is not an issue. It’s stamped on the chassis on the passenger’s side. See http://www.singercars.com/car_numbers/4AD_chassis.html for precise location.

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    • rusty

      Yes would agree with Peter.

      The tags are not a Vin number at all…as far as legal requirements.

      Although I am talking from Australias point of view all cars pre-vin number should be acceptable with just chassis/body number and engine number stamped on both…and I can tell you there were a lot of pre vin cars that never had those stamped on chassis/body..a particular run of split screen Morris Minor utes andd Vans did not have body/chassis numbers stamped on them at factory [inj Australia these were CKD units] and that does create a problem but usually surmounted by getting a police chassis or engine number..

      Unmfortunately in modern times people assume that all plates were vin plates and had to conform to the rules post 1970 period .

      If American laws are so dire a good car like that can only become parts its a sad state of affairs…Although I quite doubt that..I am sure authorities can eventually understand vintage cars sometimes are outside their authoritive box..

      I have a 1938 Morris 8 Series 2 roadster not to disimilar to this [think taller MGTC style] and I dont remember even bothering to look for a serial number its a 1938 vintage car concessions must be made by authorities too.

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  9. seguin

    Neat! I rebuilt a head for one of these for a customer several years ago. It was pitted pretty badly, but we managed to get a good surface out of it…I’ve been fascinated by their little OHC engines since.

    I wish we had gotten our hands on the entire engine.

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