Rare Rides: The 1962 Singer Vogue, the Smaller Side of British Luxury

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Today’s Rare Ride is the first time a Singer vehicle has appeared on these pages. Compact and well-trimmed, the Vogue was a bit more than the standard Sixties British family car.

Singer got its start not in automobiles, but in bicycles and motorcycles. Formed in 1874 in Coventry, England, the firm’s initial name was Singer & Company. In 1901 automotive production was added to the mix, and eventually, the brand renamed itself Singer Motor Company. The company’s last motorcycles and bikes were made in 1915, coinciding with the start of WWI.

Singer’s first car to make waves was its unique economy car offering, the Ten. Launched in 1912, the Ten was in the cyclecar class: a group of cheap, lightweight, simple cars that satisfied customers who needed more than a motorcycle but less than a full-size car. An employee at Singer during the Ten’s development and budding car salesman, William Rootes, thought the Ten was fantastic. He bought 50 of them at launch, which was all Singer could build that year. The following year, Rootes along with his brother formed the Rootes Group. William maintained an interest in Singer for many years and purchased the company in 1956. It was promptly folded into the Rootes portfolio of brands.

Another Rootes brand in the Fifties was Hillman, which produced a range of small family cars for the British motorist. In 1961, Hillman launched a new Super Minx, an intended replacement of the Series III Minx. Instead, the Series III remained in production, and the Super Minx launched as a separate model in the Hillman line. The same year Singer debuted the all-new Vogue. Vogue was a badge-engineered take on the Super Minx, which added the touch of Singer luxury.

Within the two-car Singer lineup, Vogue was positioned above the Gazelle as company flagship. The Vogue notably featured quad headlamps and a more powerful engine than in Hillman models. The 1.6-liter inline-four engine in the Vogue produced 66 horsepower, where in its lesser Hillman cousin it produced 62. The other notable difference in the Singer offering was a much more upscale interior than in the Super Minx. Vogue featured upgraded materials and a real wood dash.

Vogue was available in sedan and wagon formats, but a convertible version was off-limits to luxury Singer customers. The first generation Vogue went through four different series of minor alterations, the last of which debuted in 1965 and was notable for its upgrade to a 1.7-liter engine. Shortly thereafter a New Vogue was introduced for ’66, which was again an upscale version of a Hillman – this time the Hunter. The Rootes Group discontinued Singer after 1970, and shuffled its few customers to other Sunbeam and Hillman offerings.

Today’s Rare Ride is a Series I Vogue, which traveled just 77,000 since 1962. It sold recently for around $7,000, and is still on the roads per the UK’s DVLA plate inquiry.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Dec 22, 2020

    I'm not a fan of the styling, but that's a beautiful car just because it's so clean and demure. $7000 doesn't seem terrible for that specimen. 66 HP might not have been so bad in such a (presumably) light car. Great find!

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Dec 23, 2020

    There were so many of these badge-engineered Rootes cars, you had to be an anorak to sort them out. The Singer Gazelle, Hillman Minx, Super Minx, Sunbeam Rapier, Humber Sceptre, all in about three series and that over just a few years. Same basic sturdy chassis underneath. This '62 Vogue had the old three main bearing 1600 engine, which only two years later got twin carbs and 84 hp. The following year, they went to 1725 cc and five main bearings but no more power. Kind of like when BMC gave the first MGB a 3 main bearing engine then upped it to five for '65 when it was slower probably due to more engine friction, but was smoother. The Rootes engines were upgraded mainly to compete with tin can Cortina GT's and for the Sunbeam Alpine sports cars which sold well in the US. Those bodies were strong enough to take the Ford 260 V8, known as the Sunbeam Tiger, so the sedans were certainly capable, because the basic chassis was not engineered to be a minimum standard tin box, and weighed several hundred pounds more than a Cortina. Pretty solid. That said, unexciting as hell. Boring. Used to get lifts to work in a Gazelle 1725 when the room-mate was away during my work/study stint in the UK in 1971. Quiet, didn't rev, wasn't sprightly, but chuntered down the long straight road to Cambridge at 75 to 80 in Overdrive no sweat, and quiet. This '62 Vogue is the least desirable of the entire lot being a first year model with the least power. Don't know if it was kingpin or ball joint front end, because they changed about then. Solid and unexciting. Rootes really didn't know where it was in the marketplace, kind of like Triumph. Above Ford, GM Vauxhall and the old type BMC Austin Cambridge, but not a Rover. Triumph tried to get out of the Vanguard rut with the six cylinder 2000, but Rootes fuddled along and were bought out by Chrysler. Their only interesting car was the Hillman/Sunbeam Imp. And Chrysler had zero clue about anything between about 1962 and 1980, or ever really, so Rootes was screwed. Ford and GM had Euro presence so Chrysler figured they needed one too. Trouble is, Ford had been there since 1911 and GM since the 1920s buying up Vauxhall and Opel. In 1965, things were not the same, Chrysler was perpetually broke, and hadn't a clue what to do with the brand. They also screwed up Simca in France while they were at it. Meh.

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    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Dec 27, 2020

      Nice knowledgeable commentary from you here! BTW we've covered the Cambridge previously as well. https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/10/rare-rides-vintage-england-via-the-1957-austin-cambridge/

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