My Car Story – Pearl the Singer – Ronnie Johnston

This is “Pearl” (Think Carly Simon) our 1951 Singer Roadster.

The Roadster is a pre-war design but, in spite of very similar appearance, the post war car has many differences such as independent front suspension and a four speed box.

This makes it  much easier to drive in modern traffic and quite practical for lengthy journeys

These cars are now quite scarce with very few in Scotland although there are some survivors in England and abroad.

First, a few words on the history of the Singer Company.

It was founded in 1875 and, like many other marques, it had its beginning in the booming bicycle industry of the late Victorian period. They diversified into motor cycle and car building in the early 20th century and became the third largest car builder behind Morris and Austin.

The company was actively involved in motor sport and there was intense competition with MG.

They lost a lot of their manufacturing capacity in the Coventry blitz and never fully recovered from this.

In 1955 they were taken over by the Rootes Group who continued the marque as a badge engineered Hillman with a few luxury features until 1970 when the name was dropped after a merger with Chrysler.

Sadly, as time passes the Singer name is fading from public memory with some younger car enthusiasts simply unaware of the marque.

I am often asked if the company has any connection with the sewing machine company of the same name and can confirm there is no link.

This car was restored from (literally) boxes of bits in 1988 by an enthusiast who has since died.

He returned the car to running condition and even repainted it in its original factory colour. Strangely, although he kept it taxed and insured he made almost no use of it and the bulky history file that came with the car shows a series of MoT certificates with the only mileage recorded being the annual trip to the MoT station.

We acquired the car in 2008 and have made frequent use of it taking it to numerous Club rallies and jaunts south of the border all under its own power.

We have particularly enjoyed driving it up challenging roads and have “bagged” Porlock Hill in Somerset, Cat and Fiddle into Buxton as well as our own “Rest” several times.

By far the most white knuckle drive was in the Derbyshire Peak District where the road into Castleton is scary.

A few years ago, after a drive from a Club rally in York, We suffered a broken crankshaft at Canderside Toll only a few miles from home.

It took months to locate another crankshaft and I was beginning to think the unthinkable and fitting a “foreign” engine.

However, a chance conversation at a rally turned up a lead which eventually bore fruit and the engine was rebuilt.

Since then we have used a trailer for the longer trips although we always drive it to the Scottish events.

The car is largely original but I have fitted flashing indicators for safety and an electric water pump to eliminate a tendency to overheat caused, I think, by modern fuels.

I have attached a few pictures of the car at various club rallies.

Ronnie and Kath

  • Big Thanks to Ronnie for contributing to the My Car Story idea with this fascinating tale of a lesser know & remembered British Roadster of the early ’50’s – join in and send your own #MyCarStory to to share it with the Membership!

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