HISTORY OF A SINGER
by Dave Hawkins
James Laidlaw, born 19.4.1914, bought a SINGER 9 at the Rand
Easter Show, being held in Johannesburg over Easter, 1939.
agents in Jhb were Len Simmons (Pty) Ltd at 21 Eloff Street, who
advertised this “popular 4-SEATER SPORTS CAR as being available
in a range of new colours for cash or on terms"
advertised price in the UK for this model was £169.00
number J26301R (where J depicts year of manufacture = 1938)
no 5312H and Car no 102R
Throp, from the Singer Owners Club ( SOC) in the UK, confirms
that factory numbers started at 26300, which means this car was
the first off the production line.
the onset of World War in August 1939, very few cars were made
resulting in only one or two being in use today. The SOC register
lists only 3 or 4 world wide.
total Singer Roadster population, covering all models, world
wide, exceeds 500 cars with a 4AD of 1954 being the last, now
owned by David Freeth, who as past chairman is now the archivist
and technical adviser for the SOC.
and his younger brother, Leslie Stewart Laidlaw, both lived in
Cape Town and used the car up until 1990, when Basil died and
left the car to his brother.
lived at 121 Silvermine Village, Sun Valley, Fish Hoek and first
registered the car into his name in 2001. His neighbours were the
Orfords, whose son Steve lived in Jhb.
car was in desperate need of a full restoration and work began in
2002 when the car was completely dismantled by Neville Dredge of
Classic cars in Kommetjie. Somehow the front and rear fenders and
running boards were lost or stolen and had to be replaced with
second hand items from Trevor Cornelius, a restorer in the UK.
Nicholas Symons, in Cape Town, was the insurance agent who
arranged for the items to be imported.
restoration was completed in Novemebr 2002 at a total cost
2005 the car was sent to Jaguar Classic Restorations in Ottery
for the making of a new soft top, side shields and tonneau cover.
A new carburetor and headlamps were fitted at a total cost of
later the motor was stripped for a complete overhaul and for
quite a while the car stood on blocks, under cover. Leslie got
sick and the day before he died sold the car to Steve Orford,
whose parents orchestrated the sale.
2012 the car was transported up to Jhb. at a cost of R5000.00 and
was slightly damaged in the process. Work on the motor needed to
Holmes, chairman of the Vintage & Veteran Club, recommended
that J B Morrison do the work. This was done at a cost of
R77768.00 after which the car went to Sandton Auto Electrical for
the wiring to be upgraded and various intruments and switches to
be replaced. Cost R15799.00.
Orford then drove the car a few times but not being a true
vintage car enthusiast decided to sell it and placed an advert in
the March / April issue of the SOC magazine, intending to sell it
to a collector in the UK.
Hawkins, also a member of the SOC, saw the advert. He immediately
contacted Steve, and made an offer to purchase at the asking
was brought down to Port Alfred by road trailer on the
24th May 2018 and will be housed in the Albany Vintage and
Classic Car Museum, along with two other Singer cars. A 1934
singer Le Mans, and a 1952 Singer Roadster 4AD.
is also a 1949 Singer 4A available for restoration, bought on an
auction when the museum in V D Bijl Park closed down.
were the third largest car producer in Brittain during the 1930’s
with their Singer sports cars doing very well in rallies and
races all over Europe. The factory was eventaully taken over by
the Routes group until the last Hillmans and Singer Vogues were
built in the 1970’s.
thanks for this article, Dave. A fascinating account of a very
unique car. A beautifully restored treasure to park in our