1 IT’S A ‘MODERN’ CAR FROM SINGER
Only, unfortunately, it wasn’t really. The SM1500 certainly resembled a shrunken version of the latest American sedans when it appeared in 1948, but the launch of the Ford Consul MKI three years later exposed the Singer’s dated design. It had an old-fashioned separate chassis where the Ford was built around the latest monocoque technology. What made things worse was the SM1500 cost about 50% more than the Consul. That’s not to say it was a bad car by any means. Ride quality and roadholding won high praise, and it was quite lively thanks to possessing something no other mainstream British family car could offer – an overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine.
2 ITS APPROACH WAS CONVENTIONAL
There was sound lateral thinking behind the SM1500’s lumpy appearance. It was intended as a six-seater aimed at the rough roads of Britain’s colonies. The rear seat was within the wheelbase of the well-damped chassis, going for passenger comfort. But with a bench seat for three at the front, a flat floor was required. These two hardpoints meant the Singer was 4in taller than a Consul and almost 12in longer, proportions that – when combined with its slab sides – made it one of the ugliest cars on the market.
3 IT WAS A FLOP
Over six years, Singer built 17,300 SM1500s and it did find owners – including police forces and taxi operators – who appreciated its toughness. Once the stubborn column gearchange was mastered, it wasn’t bad to drive either. Less a failure, more an also-ran. Its big problem was the pace of progress; the Consul was a tough new benchmark, and even the Vauxhall Wyvern and Morris Oxford did much of what the SM1500 could do for less money, despite gutless engines and worse quality. The last gasp for it came in 1954 when it was renamed the Hunter, given an upright, traditional grille and the startling innovation of a glassfibre bonnet, but it only lasted another two years as a minor player in the family car market.