posted at the Cohort by Chris Irber
When I encountered this face at the Cohort, I had a WTF moment. In the lower resolution image I first saw, it looked like this ridiculous face was sporting big fake eyebrows. And a big fat mustache. This is who came to mind:
He just needs quad eyeballs.
It came to me soon enough that this Singer Vogue’s hood wasn’t closed all the way, but now I keep seeing eyebrows. Even with that hood closed, this has to be one of the goofier faces on a car.
The Vogue was the top trim/rebadged version of the venerable Hillman Minx, in this case the Super Minx. Although the ’50s Audax Rootes cars looked like Studebakers because they were styled by Raymond Loewy Associates, this one looks a whole lot like a ’60-’61 Rambler from the rear.
The interior is typical high-trim British mass-market sedan: a bit ‘o wood veneer to give it the pretensions of being something a step or two higher on the social strata pecking order. Not exactly very convincing, but undoubtedly less drab than black vinyl. That tiny horizontal speedometer doesn’t do much to enhance the pretense.
That crook of a gear shift is a trip. The four speed box connected to the 1592 Rootes ohv four, making some 66 hp. The Vogue in this body style was made from 1961 to 1966, being replaced by the New Vogue for 1967, using the new boxy body of the Hillman Hunter.
Here we are again…
I’m not exactly seeing a lot of visual benefit for the extra money. I rather prefer the Super Minx, by a healthy margin. But then it’s not nearly as amusing.
Roger Carr’s Minx CC is here, which covers all the generations
My late maternal grandfather’s car. The Super Minx that is.
It reminds me of Mr. Potatohead’s car, and someone just kept adding random pieces to the front end until all of the pieces were used…
I was thinking of a Rambler with attitude but I like your Mr. Potatohead comparison better. Too funny!
The headlight and tail light treatments seem to have been inspired by a Checker Marathon.
Above the Vogue was the Humber Sceptre, designed even more to appeal to the bourgeoisie. Curiously for the British badge-engineering of the age, the interior eschewed the walnut for modernist vinyl. Must have been a bit austere for the target market; when the Hunter-based successor was released, the timber returned.
The Humber Sceptre was originally intended to be a Sunbeam Rapier replacement, hence the ‘sporty’ black dash rather than walnut finish.
The Singer Vogue actually came out a few months ahead of the Hillman Super Minx, while the separate round rear lights were a carry-over styling feature from the earlier Singer Gazelle. The wrap round rear screen makes this a Mk.I or Mk.II produced from 1961-64. The roofline was squared off and a third rear quarter window added for 1964-67.
Owner told me it’s a 1963.
In that case the original automatic gearbox would have been a Borg Warner 35.
I’m confused. It looks like there’s an “Automatic” badge on the rear, but from the interior it certainly looks like a typical 4 on the floor. Or is that a semi-automatic gearbox? (Or am I reading that script wrong?)
Hmm.. that’s interesting. The rear badge definitely says Automatic, but from the pictures that I can find online, it looks as if the automatic Vogues had a column shift. So, maybe this one was converted to a manual?
Looking at the gear lever, it’s hard to say if it’s original, though this picture from ebay shows a shorter lever, apparently installed a little further from the engine. That rubberized cover doesn´t help either to ascertain if it’s original.
Now that I look at it again, the “Automatic” car has a hump on the drive tunnel the ebay example doesn’t have.
Probably some of the British correspondents will have a much clearer idea.
Yup, it looks like there must have been a conversion at some point.
The owner came out while I was taking these pics; it’s a 1963. When the original motor got too difficult to keep going in the 1990’s he ripped out the engine and transmission, and in went a four speed and 1.6 four from a 1976 Chevette! Thought that beyond weird until I remembered that was an Isuzu design, and Isuzu did produce license built Hillmans, so there is some logic there (maybe).
“Maybe” is right. The Isuzus (and Opel by Isuzu) used an Isuzu engine. The Chevette and European Opels used an Opel-designed engine, first built in Brazil, FWIW. Two totally different engine families.
I always thought Chevettes used an Isuzu G-series block, just built here. I’m probably wrong.
I see that Wikipedia agrees with you. But they’re wrong. From GM Heritage Center, original media info about the Chevette (and exactly as I remember it):
All U.S. Chevette gasoline engines were produced at the Chevrolet “V-8” engine in Flint, Michigan, and were very similar to the 4-cylinder OHC engine used in the General Motors do Brasil Chevette….
GMB produced 4-cylinder OHC Chevette engines at the San Jose dos Campos plant The engine had its roots in an Opel design, however the Brazilian version featured a cross-flow cylinder head, with a flat cover on either side of the cam carrier. Engines with 1.4 and 1.6 litre displacements were produced,
Somebody should edit that Wikipedia entry.
The Chevette’s (rare) diesel engine was of course the Isuzu.
Wiki wasn’t my source for that info, but that’s beside the point you make. Never trust Wiki unless the resource link predates the net, at the least. Thanks for the clarification, Paul.
Without doubt there has been a gearbox swap of some sort, which cjiguy confirms. The regular Super Minx interior with stick shift looked like this, though some cars also had wood veneer. I think all Superminxes (as opposed to Gazelles) had circular instruments.
To clarify also, the Super Minx was not a Minx or an Audax, being larger and actually intended to replace the Minx, not supplement it.
Super Minx entry here https://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-european/curbside-classic-1966-hillman-super-minx-rooting-for-rootes/
That link to your post is included in my article, at the end.
BW 35 are quite biodegrable its easier to install a manual box and pedal set than fix the automatic and the car will go better and use less fuel, A friend recently sold one of these Vogues a 66 with 34,000 original miles it was like a new car but hes getting out of old cars and collectables in general he has a blue and white Superminx wagon Ive put a claim in on if it comes up for sale but it has to come with the overdrive gearbox thats laying on the floor ready to go in.
The grille’s top chrome piece is part of the hood but the rest of the grille is fixed; if someone hadn’t come across this car like this I’d never have guessed. Is this very usual for British or European cars?
Time to trot out the video I made a few years ago:
I am on record as an Audax fan, and I don’t care what flavor it may be served in. The front may be a touch unusual, but then it wouldn’t be a proper British (non-Jaguar) saloon if it didn’t have something a teeny bit off in the styling. It is all part of the charm and experience.
Maybe the owner intentionally leaves the hood, err bonnet, open because he or she is a Tintin fan. https://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/comment-image/585239.jpg
Or a Bordurian agent.
Although it has not been rare in automotive history for cars to be yclept in a manner unbefitting – staid Mavericks, conformist Rebels, Cherys that are bitter, Bitters that aren’t bitters, Seats that are cars, Ka’s that are Fords, (and fjords that aren’t cars), Jaguars that are dogs, Stags that are dear but aren’t deer (or triumphs), slow Allegros, real Charades, and so on – it must be considered a kindness to automotivedom that this car neither sang nor set a fashion (and was thus untrue to both its names) as the world would have proceeded as a scarier place had this comedian look prevailed widely: there is a reason these people are in comedy, and I feel sure no-one here would fancy driving, say, the Chevy Rodney Dangerfield or the Ford Marty Feldman (though on that latter, it’s possible Ford DID give that a trial run in the 1957 model, but I digress).
This Vogue hailed as a Humber Here, sorry, as a Humber here, though it’s vague why a Vogue that was a Singer was thought less in vogue than a humble Humber that was a Hillman anyway, but I suppose those Vogue vagaries are variations viewable in any vogue. Which probably accounts for the styling.
Or not, but something has to.
And don’t forget, both Jaguar and Lincoln had quite a few Marx.
In my early driving days a friend had one of these (being in Oz, it was badged as a Humber Vogue). It came with provision for a crank, with hole in the front bumper and crank handle in the boot.
For a lark a few times we ‘stalled’ it in the middle of a busy intersection (or maccas car park) and one of us would get out and crank start it. I have a slight scar in the middle of my forehead as a reminder of one occasion when I bumped my head on the crank handle while doing so…
I see ’59/’60 Studebaker Lark in the roof line and backlite and I also see ’53/’54 Plymouth Cranbrook/Savoy especially in the quarter window of the rear door and the “C” pillar but the Plymouth backlite is not a wrap around like the Lark and the Vogue.
Eyebrows on cars are always a bad idea. The ’55 Pontiac, ’57 Hudson, and ’59 Dodge/DeSoto Unibrow come to mind.
The original Minx was a NICE-looking car. Pert and cheerful. Carmakers rarely leave well enough alone.
Not a hideous car, but by the front grille, it would appear that this Vogue has been sipping on the same stuff as a Kaiser Darrin.