Snipe Hunt: 1960 Humber Super Snipe

Humber Super Snipe

Humber is a long-deceased British marque that was founded in 1868 to produce bicycles. Eventually, Humber was rolled into the Rootes Group, a conglomerate of British makes that included Hillman, Singer and Sunbeam (yes, those folks that made the Tiger). Humber’s were upper crust cars, similar to Rovers and Jaguars but without the sporting inclinations of either. The Super Snipe was the top of the range model for Humber, and was imported to the USA in small numbers. This one is for sale here on eBay in Arizona at no reserve, although it’s labeled as a private auction.

1960 Humber Super Snipe

Being a British car enthusiast, and especially oddball British cars, I find this Humber fascinating. They are equipped extremely well, with this one having a Borg Warner automatic and standard front disc brakes. The styling, while certainly conservative, is not offensive, although some may contend it was dated by 1960. The body was introduced in 1958, with the Series 2 coming out in 1959.

Humber Hemi Engine

One of the unique features of the Super Snipe is a hemispherical head pushrod inline 6 engine. Although not tremendously powerful at 129 horsepower, I’ve heard that it is a very smooth runner. A couple of Super Snipes have actually run recently in the 24 Hours of LeMons races on the west coast, so they can’t be that slow.

Humber back seat

In the rear, we can see evidence of the Super Snipe’s (isn’t that a great car name!) intended audience. Wood veneered tables and plush upholstery indicated that the upper class was intended to reside here.

Humber Snipe Interior

While the front seat isn’t as nice, parts of it might be able to be reused, and the wood may be able to be refinished.

Humber Snipe Dash

A picture of the dash is included, and shows that all gauges are present and intact. I love the shifter on the column and the traditional British wooden dash.

Humber Club Newsletters

Paging through the numerous pictures, I was surprised to see some old Post Vintage Humber Car Club newsletters, a tie and a dash plaque from a 1986 event. It’s unclear whether this is the most recent owner, but it’s apparent that someone loved this car for at least part of its storage period. As the car is now in a dealer’s inventory, I’m not sure whether you can reconstruct the history of the car or not. The dealer maintains that the car has not been started in over 50 years!

Humber Hood Ornament

Having chased snipes unsuccessfully once as a child, I have to wonder if this is what one looks like (those of you outside the US may have no idea what I’m talking about…)

1960 Humber Snipe

The over 90,000 miles on the odometer have me wondering about the authenticity of the 1963 license plates, although I cannot make out the sticker to see if it’s from a subsequent year. Would you like to increase that odometer reading?

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Comments

  1. Don Andreina

    Ha! What a great find. Twenty years ago a friend had one of the later versions with the twin headlight setup. She loved that car. We drove to a Beastie Boys concert and used those trays in the rear to roll naughty things for the show.

    • Woodie Man

      Claude Rains and I are shocked….shocked I say!

      • Don Andreina

        Round up the usual suspects. Hehehe.

        Happy New Year Barnfinders.

  2. Alan Northcott

    What a memory! The first car that I remember my mum having was a 1956 Humber Hawk, which had the same type of shape, though no tray tables that I can remember. Very smooth and luxurious. Still remember that the registration number was the short (for England) 2DMP.

  3. julian

    My dad had one of these and then every one of the later models in two year periods as company cars.
    This one is the first of this “american?” shape and the last one without face level ventilation. When the twin headlights arrived, the roof line was lowered and the ventilation was improved. My mum thought the holes in the dash were ash trays and tried to stub out her cigarette – only to get covered in ash!
    A great driving experience for an 18 year old but I was only allowed to use it for picking up family relations or Sunday afternoons with my mates (room for 6-8) no seat belts.
    Slightly light power steering but plenty of power and very quiet. All auto – never saw a manual one.

  4. Tirefriar

    The front end design has been clearly influenced by mid-50’s Detroit. As I learn more about the vintage British cars, despite their relative simplicity there is always an engineering gem hidden somewhere. In the case of the Super Snipe its a hemi inline 6 and front disc brakes. at the time of offering this car as new, disc brakes were usually reserved for european sport cars or GTs. Very few US domestic cars carried front discs even as an option. Interesting to know is that the disc brakes were developed and patented in UK at the turn of last century.

  5. MikeH

    Kip motors in Dallas specializes in Humber and other offbeat brit cars. They even remanufacture parts—-pricey though.

    http://www.kipmotor.com/

    • jlschmidt

      I got a front brake rebuild kit from Kip for a 1953 Singer. They do have great parts for some real oddball vehicles.
      When I visited with the parts guy on the phone, he matter-of-factly said, “Yes, we have those parts.” That was refreshing to hear.

  6. RickyM

    Nice rare find. Very luxurious car in its day. Anyone else spot the nice line up of Toyota Land Cruisers in the background? Nice too!

  7. That Guy

    Along with Jensen Interceptor, this ranks as one of the top car names in history.

    It looks solid and rust-free – surprising for a Washington State car. But the seller is blowing smoke out his tailpipe regarding the “not running in 50 years” claim. No way does this car have only three years of use under its belt. He is clearly looking at the “WASH 63” on the license plate and thinking that was the last registration date. But I think I’m safe in assuming these plates are like the California plates of the era, which all have “63” embossed in them because that was the year that style was first issued, and all cars were required to get new plates in that year. I won’t even bother going to Wikipedia on this one.

    I actually have a decent Humber Super Snipe rear seat somewhere in my garage. I came across a terminally rusty, soon-to-be-crushed Humber at the local Pick’n’Pull about fifteen years ago, and couldn’t bear to see that nice leather seat turned into Chinese air conditioners along with the rest of the car. It’s even the same color.

    Maybe the gods are telling me something; I need a car to go with my seat. It’s added to my eBay watch list. :-D

  8. That Guy

    Jamie, if I ever find myself doing Boy Scout Leader duty, I will have the Tenderfoot scouts hunting for Super Snipes. They are even more shy and elusive than regular snipes, and catching one allows you to skip directly to Eagle Scout. ;-)

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      @That Guy — Love it!!! I’ll remember that for my grandsons!

  9. Dolphin Member

    Would this Humber SS be Britain’s luxury Buick sedan comp?
    Or maybe the hemi engine makes it Britain’s performance Dodge comp.

  10. Not my cup'a tea

    What is the hole in the front bumper for? It looks to original, as best I can tell from the pictures.
    To the point of the line up of Toyota’s in the background – BEAUTIFUL!
    I used to have an old FJ that was a “Barn Find” after a friend of a friends Husband passed away. Darn near mint condition, 60k miles, and all original. I told the Lady it was worth ten times what she wanted. She said she just wanted it gone! I bought it, cleaned it up, drove it for a year, and then turned around and sold it for the “ten times” that I told her was worth! Miss it but it helped pay off our lake house, so well worth it!

  11. Gazzer

    That hole might have been for a starting handle. Also he is wrong on engine size. Early ones were 2651cc, later ones 2965cc.

    Like 1
  12. TuckerTorpedo

    I wonder what kind of reaction you’ll get when you go to your local NAPA parts counter and ask for parts for a “Humber Super Snipe”!

    • Murray Mitchell

      They’d probably be able to help you brakes, fan belts, maybe even water pumps & brake master cylinder and more. You’d be surprised as to how many British cars are still listed with them.

      Of course you’ll have to find the guy who’s willing to go that extra mile for you.

      Like 1
  13. William Henshaw

    What a great car this must have been. I love the styling, makes me think of mid ’50s GM. The interior was obviously gorgeous in it’s day. Unfortunately it looks very sad now and my initial thought is of the stacks of cash it will take to make it right again. The plate was issued in ’63, the sticker should show the last year of registration. Those plates haven’t been in use for many years. Cool looking car, but I can’t see it for even $800 unless you needed it for parts.

  14. Murray Mitchell

    The Humper Super Snipe, and later the Imperial were used as transport for high ranking government officials in the UK. Queen Elizabeth has a station wagon version which she uses regularly, I believe its kept at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.

    As a point of interest the Humber Super Snipe was the first car to be fitted with twin (ie, two on each fender) headlights, and the model offered here is allegedly based on and early fifties US car. Which might explain the dated look for US folks.

    Like 1
  15. David

    Sorry to say but that’s a Humber hawk. My grandfather had one which was identical including picnic tables.

    • Dr. D

      @ David — I think this is actually a Super Snipe.The Hawk and the Super Snipe shared essentially the same body, but the Super Snipe had the 6cyl as opposed to the Hawk’s 4cyl. One notable styling difference is that the Super Snipe’s lower grill wraps around the fenders, as shown here, while the Hawk’s grill does not.

  16. Howie B

    I bought the Humber and am getting it delivered on Tuesday… I am really excited, when I was a child my parents friends had one and we always went to dinner in it. I will send you a picture when it is back on the road.

    Like 1
    • Josh Staff

      Congratulations Howie!
      Please keep us updated on your progress! If you don’t mind taking and sending us photos, we would love to see the entire process from unloading it off the trailer to getting it back on the road! Good luck and we look forward to more updates!
      Josh

    • Chris Enrico

      Enjoy it. We (the family did). Older sister thinks it went into storage in the late 80’s.

    • Maria Fischer

      Howie B. This was my Dad’s car and he purchased it in Seattle from a foreign car dealer in the mid 60’s. He lived in ABerdeen, WA and this was his car he drove to work. He drove it until the brakes failed then parked it inside. He passed in 2008 and we finally sold the car in 2014 to a fellow in California- who evidently sold it to someone in Arizona. Dad’s name was Harold (Jim ) Enrico – google his poetry books.
      We loved driving it, and we drove it fast also – it was not real good cornering as it was so heavy – like a tank. None of his kids wanted to restore it as it would have been a real chore.
      I would love to see photos of it when you are done with it!
      Maria Fischer

  17. Boo

    A Super Snipe features on the rear of Sparks’ “Propaganda” LP sleeve.

  18. Bob

    The tag on the license plate is ’74 so it was likely last on the road 40 years ago.

  19. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    This one sold for $808 with 12 bids. We are still waiting to hear an update Howie!

  20. Sam

    Hi Guys, I’m quite interested in following this wonderful Humber.
    I’m in the process of restoring a 1953 Humber Super Snipe Phaeton (one of 6 convertible 4 door made) for a customer. Amazing car!

  21. Maria Fischer

    This was my Dad’s Super Snipe. He bought it in Seattle in 1967, and we sold it after he passed. I am attaching a photo of myself and my great nephew in the car just before it was hauled away by the buyer. It was driven up until the brakes went out – sometime in the late 1980’s I think. It was stored for about 20 years after that – in a garage. I too would love to see it after it is restored! It was fun to drive and had deep pile carpets.

    Like 1
  22. Chris Enrico

    Late Father’s car! Bought it used in Seattle while going to school for his PHd. 50 years! Sorry dealer but you don’t know squat! Stored in a stable that eventually began to disintegrate and transferred to a garage in a drier climate for several more years.. Ran like a champ. Us kids would go out with a flat bladed screwdriver to both unlock and start it for joy rides when dad was off somewhere. It was a very reliable car. Brother-in-law sold it a number of years ago. We had no interest in restoring it.

    Like 1
  23. grover behrens

    Do you still have the Super Snipe?

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