The Silverstone Classic Sale 2016

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1936 Singer Nine Le Mans Sports Special

Lot No.: 517

Registration: ASR 238
Chassis Number: 5478
Engine Number: 9825
Number of cylinders: 4
CC: 1056cc
Year of Manufacture: 1936
Sold for (£): 13,500

In the early 1930s, Singer & Co. Ltd.(later to become Singer Motors) was in a reasonably secure financial position although lagging a distant third behind rivals Austin and Morris in numbers produced, hampered mainly by a lack of factory space. The 8hp Junior was selling well, but in a fairly dramatic move in 1932, they launched the much more sporting Nine using a 972cc, 26.5bhp version of the overhead cam engine in an entirely new chassis with hydraulic brakes. 

A tentative sortie into endurance racing using a Nine Sports resulted in a respectable 13th. place at Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans in 1933 and the decision was made to capitalise on this new international success by introducing a new model called the “Le Mans”. This version was powered by a 6 cylinder overhead camshaft engine of 1493cc fed by twin one and a quarter inch SU carburettors and featured a four-speed close(r) ratio gearbox, dry plate clutch, spiral bevel final drive, four wheel hydraulic brakes and half elliptic front and rear springs with friction shock absorbers. Body changes included the addition of an externally mounted 12-gallon slab fuel tank, fitted with a quick action filler cap and twin rear mounted spare tires to complete the competition look. Clothed in a very attractive body with a racing fuel filler and twin spare wheels, and looking every inch the “little racer”, the Le Mans proved irresistible in the mid-thirties to a public enjoying a rapidly improving standard of living, becoming interested in the now fashionable sport of motor racing and to whom the black days of World War 1 were a distant memory and the next conflict only a glimmer on the horizon.

For 1935, a Special Speed version of the Le Mans was added to the Singer line up. Engine output was increased to over 38 bhp by raising the compression, adding a higher lift cam, bigger valves and changing carburation from twin downdraft to twin horizontal S.U.'s. The coil ignition system was also replaced for a more consistent ignition spark. The Special Speed would eventually supersede the basic Le Mans model for the production years of 1936 and 1937.

Unique is a word that is often incorrectly used but the Singer Nine Le Mans is unique in that it is the only car, ever, to have won an Olympic Gold Medal when the legendary Betty Haig won the 1936 Olympic Rally based around the Berlin games of that year. Three Gold Medals were awarded, one for the driver, one for the co-driver and one for the car!

This Singer Nine Le Mans Speed Special was purchased approximately forty years ago by our late vendor. The owner was the well-regarded motorcycle ace Alf Peatman and regular Silverstone Auctions followers may remember him as the owner of the incredibly rusty Ferrari Dino and the white project Aston Martin DBS we sold in 2014.

Apparently, this little Singer had sat at the rear of his local garage for many years and was about to be scrapped, when Alf bought it for a few pounds in the 1970s and set about restoring the car completely. He was not one to use his cars an awful lot and, on completion of its restoration it was never registered and sat in his garage alongside the Ferrari and Aston until he passed away in 2014. At this point, the family intended to keep the car, however, a change of plans means it is now being offered for sale.

Since 2014 the car has been lightly recommissioned. The engine runs and the car will drive under its own steam, however, it's essentially just as it left its 40-year resting place and will need further inspection and re-commissioning to make it roadworthy and presentable once again.

An excellent basis for a full restoration or a sympathetic preservation as this car has a wonderful patina and a great story to tell.