Myth Buster

Singer SM1500

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - Giles chapman


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.


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.


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.

singer sM1500

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