Friday, 27 August 2010 06:16

Singer Brooklands Racer

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From Trevor Leech

 The Singer Car Company started in 1905 and as with many early cars owners saw the need for speed and manufacturers found racing success = sales (so little has changed in 100 years!)

The first real international success for Singer came with a class win in the 1908 RAC 2000 mile International Trial.  This RAC trial was considered at the time to be the longest and most severe ever held in the British Isles. Gerald Herbert who was the first 'works' driver for Singer drove a normal 'off the line' Singer tourer.

In 1909 there appeared a 15.9hp Brooklands racing Singer called 'Jabberwock’. It had a rakish narrow body and pointed tail. This Singer was raced without much success by VVD(Vivian) Hewitt. It was subsequently rebodied with the body from an Hispano Suiza tourer and sold to his friend Cecil Kimber (the father of MG.)

The first of the  Singer ‘Bunny' Brooklands racers appeared at Brooklands for the September 1910 meeting. This special bodied car a model 16/20hp was made by Singer for Gerald Herbert. Bunny 1 was successful, winning from scratch all three of the races entered against Louis Coataleus' Sunbeam, the De Dietriech of rnLyndhurst Bruce and the Mercedes of Lord Vernon. The Singer set new records and averaged over 77mph.

November 1910 saw a new model Bunny 'Junior' appear at Brooklands with a smaller 15.9hp motor. This car still managed to do a flying quarter mile at 81.257mph,10mph faster than the Coatalen Sunbeam and setting a new ten lap record averaging 77.182mph.

At the first Brooklands meeting for 1911 Herbert appeared with Bunny 111, this time with bull-nosed radiator and again with pointy Brooklands tail.  The first race which was supposed to be grudge match between Coatalens' Sunbeam and Bunny 111 was an anti-climax as the Sunbeam had a broken crankshaft and could not compete.

Bunny went on to win from scratch against larger cars beating the 35 hp Mercedes of Tennant who had a 54 seconds start!  Thus Bunny 111 had retained the 76mph record set the previous year.

Throughout 1911 the rivalry between Bunny 111 and all comers, particularly the Sunbeam, saw the Singer winning consistently and setting records, for example the first sub 20sec half mile at over 90mph and taking the 10 lap record. The times recorded by Bunny were not bettered until December 1911 when Vauxhall entered the fray with a car with 50 bigger capacity than the Singer..

The Bunny line continued with Bunny V VI and VII, but they again were not attractive or as successful.  1912 saw the Singer company prepare and entered Bunny V VI and VII for the Dieppe Grand Prix, but they again were not attractive or as successful as Bunny 111.

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