The Singer Vogue was the more upmarket version of the Hillman Superminx – the Riley 4/72 to the Superminx, or the Oldsmobile to the Hillman’s Chevrolet, if you like. Sales were always lower than the Superminx, and sales of estate version were always a small minority. Published numbers show that there are around 35 Vogues from 1965 of all types still registered in the UK. From 1963, there are around 45 remaining.
So, to see 3 examples of the estate lined up together is quite an unlikely event. The car in the centre is the 1963 series II car with the earlier roofline but otherwise pretty similar to the 1965 cars on either side. Given my personal fondness for the Superminx and its derivatives, to see a Singer Vogue is always noteworthy; to see 3 together even better and for the 3 to be estates makes this one of my personal highlights the sights of the car show season of 2013. And of 2012, as at the same show last year, the same cars were present.
Singer was a Rootes group brand from 1956 to 1970, when Chrysler allowed it to die. Prior to 1956, Singer had been one of several brands trapped between the lack of volume and the lack of perceived prestige. The company eventually folded in 1955 and was bought by the Rootes Group, whose Chairman Sir William Rootes was a former Singer apprentice. Singer’s last standalone car was the Singer Hunter, a derivative of the 1948 Singer 1500. Under Rootes’s ownership, Singer quickly became an upmarket Hillman, sitting below Humber and without the sporting emphasis of Sunbeam.
As well the Vogue based on the Superminx, Rootes offered the Singer Gazelle, based on the Hillman Minx. This strategy did not survive the Chrysler takeover as the brand was discontinued in 1970. By then, there was a Vogue based on the Hillman Hunter (Sunbeam Arrow), and the number of these still existing is even lower than the Superminx based cars.
The show where I saw these was at Swavesey in Cambridgeshire, England, where the annual steam rally features a good range of classic cars, trucks and agricultural vehicles. To see 3 cars out of a total population of perhaps 20 is going to be memorable; to park up next to them, as I did this year with my Mazda MX-5, even more so.
I’ve parked next to 3 Singer Vogue estates simultaneously, and not many can people can say that!