1934 Singer Nine Le Mans Sports Registration no. RD 5401 Chassis no. 60123 Engine no. 55655
By the beginning of the 1930s, Singer was in a secure financial position and the third largest UK car producer behind Morris and Austin. In 1932 the Coventry firm introduced one of its fondest remembered and most successful models: the Nine. The Singer Nine's immediate ancestor was the 8hp Junior, a successful high-quality light car powered by a 848cc four-cylinder overhead-camshaft engine. Built from 1932 to 1939, the Nine employed a 972cc 26.5bhp version of this motor ¬(first used for the Junior Special)¬ in an entirely new chassis. A four-speed freewheel gearbox was standard while both the Nine Sports and the more powerful and faster Nine Le Mans came with hydraulic brakes. The latter model had resulted from a successful venture into endurance racing, when a Nine Sports took 13th place in the 1933 Le Mans 24-Hour Race. But it was in trials events that the sporting Nines proved particularly effective, successfully challenging the previously dominant MGs. In its first season the Sports Nine won eight premier awards in the London-Exeter Trial; eleven in the London-Land's End; twelve in the London-Edinburgh; and four silver cups in the Scottish Six Days. A total of 495 awards had been taken in trials alone by the end of the 1934 season. Little is known of the history of this example of one of the 1930s' most desirable small sports cars prior to its acquisition in 1976 by well-known trials competitor John Gray, who campaigned it in MCC events. Acquired by the current owner in 2004, 'RD 5401' has been used successfully by him in standard form in VSCC trials and hill climbs. As the engine block became weakened by age, it was decided in 2007 to completely strip the car and rebuild it, as new blocks had recently become available. The engine was rebuilt around one of these aluminium dry-liner blocks, incorporating a billet crankshaft, lightened flywheel, AP clutch, up-rated oil and water pumps, and a 'high torque' camshaft. Featuring gas-flowed ports and large valves, the aluminium cylinder head is fed by twin SU carburettors mounted on a special inlet manifold. Other noteworthy features include a Bosch distributor and a full-flow exhaust system, while the transmission was rebuilt utilising an aluminium gearbox casing and new Hardy Spicer prop-shaft. On completion, a rolling road dynamometer test produced a reading of 62bhp at the wheels (printout copy on file). Many of the features present in the works team cars were incorporated during reconstruction by the marque specialist who undertook the work, inspection of which will show that it was carried out to a high standard. These include special cycle wings at the front and clipped items at the rear; unique windscreen frame and horns; bonnet straps; headlamp stone guards; different fascia panel and instrument layout; bucket rather than bench seats; front axle torque reaction cables; finned and ventilated alloy brake drums with cast-iron liners; and a single spare wheel instead of two. The heavy steel bonnet was placed with a new aluminium item together with a new body tub acquired from a specialist manufacturer. Five new wheels and Blockley tyres together with new road springs fitted to the reconditioned axles confirm that this was not merely a cosmetic exercise. In 2011 the Singer returned to the racetrack at Donington Park, while at the VSCC's meeting at Prescott in August, veteran racer Barrie 'Whizzo' Williams took the wheel, achieving an ascent of the hill in 58 seconds. Finished in British Racing Green with matching vinyl leather upholstery, 'RD 5401' is described as in generally excellent condition bodily and mechanically, with very good paintwork and interior. Offered with restoration invoices, old-style logbook, MoT/tax to June 2013 and Swansea V5 document, this Singer Le Mans to 'works team car' specification is sure to provide its fortunate new owner with much enjoyment.