Singer Nine Junior Blonde
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A lovely blonde: Singer Junior

We Spaniards like big cars. Of this there is no doubt, especially in the world of classics. The bigger the better it seems to us, and although this is not always true, it is already known ... «Big donkey, walk or not walk”.

In the world of the automobile "big" is usually synonymous with "American", and this last term could be replaced in our country by "haiga" without any problem in most cases. And what are the most representative haigas? Those of the 40s and 50s whose most luxurious versions, apart from the convertible versions, were the "Woodies" characteristic for their two-tone wood sides.

In our country they were nicknamed "blondes" because of the light colors of the wood and they were all the rage among the public. Soon the bodybuilders began to imitate them by hand on any type of chassis, whether it was large, small, American or European.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
Cheap to build and very showy, the "blondes" triumphed in the 40s

However, this phenomenon is not uniquely Iberian. In other European countries, especially France and England, during the 40s and 50s many pre-war cars were reloaded as blondes to increase their carrying capacity.

And not always for the aesthetic issue of imitating the great American cars, but many times because in those postwar years Metals were scarce and had to be replaced by other materials, which were normally woods of different types. And if they also liked aesthetically, then better than better.

This was probably the reason why the Singer featured in this article was transformed into a charming blonde; the need to convert an old vehicle - perhaps a convertible - into a small delivery van.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
Converted into a small delivery van, this Singer could fit into any corner

The good thing about this specimen is that the modification was limited to the bodywork, leaving even the original rear wings intact. Until the torpedo, everything continues as it left the factory in 1928, and the wooden body has such successful and "respectful" lines that they do not clash at all ... What's more, perhaps this vehicle be more striking and beautiful like this than with its original bodywork.

As beautiful as small

As its name suggests, the Singer Junior was the smallest in the range from the 20s to the 30s. When it was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1926, it was filling a gap of two years since the outdated Singer 10 had been released. ceased production in 1924.

All these small displacement English cars followed in the wake of the highly successful Austin Seven presented in 1922, which was sweeping sales.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
The overhead camshaft engine, a modernity in its time

After this, many of the great British marks were sent to produce small utilities of displacement below the liter; Morris presented his little Model 8 or Minor, Triumph his Super Seven, etc.

Singer's bet on this new segment seemed puzzling at firstWhile the press praised the adoption of a "modern" overhead camshaft engine - while the vast majority of manufacturers continued to opt for archaic side valves and flat cylinder heads - the rest of the vehicle was rather simple.

The early Juniors only had brakes on the rear wheels, the clutch used the primitive inverted cone system, nickel plating had been completely removed - including those on the radiator housing - and the wheels were bland flat plate rims.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
The performance of these little singers were considerable in their time

In addition, initially only one body was offered in the Junior catalog: A four-seater, three-door convertible tourer, which was only served in blue with black fins.

In contrast, the small 4cc (848x56mm) inline 86-cylinder powerplant proved to be very reliable and cheerful in performance.

Its close to 20 hp at 3.250 rpm together with the lightness of the set allowed it to reach a maximum speed of 56 miles per hour (!) According to the chronicles of the time, a not inconsiderable figure for a utility vehicle of that time, and we must even say that a bit exaggerated.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
Spoke rims were one of the novelties introduced in 1928 on the Junior

We do not know if in its day one of these small devices could reach almost 100 km / h in a straight and flat section, but the truth is that motorcycles were the germ of all Singer cars of the next three decades, including the successful models “Nine Le Mans” that during the 30s reaped successes in its category in the aforementioned French race with its mechanics raised to 972 cc and equipped with double carburation.

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Towards stardom

So given the reasonable performance of the engine, Singer engineers were soon ready to improve the base of the original Junior and for 1928 - year of manufacture of our protagonist - improvements were introduced such as the brakes on all four wheels, hydraulic shock absorbers and a single disc clutch connected to the three-speed gearbox plus reverse.

And it was not only improved in the mechanics; In terms of aesthetics, nickel plating was introduced in details such as the grille or headlight bezels, the flat rims were replaced by lighter -and more showy- ones with wire spokes and the catalog already featured a normal range of open and closed bodywork of various types and various colors.

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Singer Nine Junior Blonde
The successful dark red color was one of the options from the original catalog

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With these characteristics and an adjusted price of 135 pounds, the small Singers were a success, and when their production ended in 1932, about 40.000 units of the different versions had been produced.

With such figures the Singer house was positioned as the third largest in England, only behind the inevitable Austin and Morris (in that order).

In Spain, the Singer brand also held a good position in terms of popularity at the end of the 20s. Not as much as its direct competitors of British origin, nor as common as the Ford, Fiat and Citroën, but it was not uncommon to come across a Singer on our roads in the pre-Civil War period.

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Singer Nine Junior Blonde
The interior is worthy of a utilitarian: simple and spartan

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The exclusive concession company for Spain at the end of the “happy decade” was “The Spanish Trading Co. Ltd.”, which had offices in Barcelona (Plaza Letamendi Nº5) and Madrid (Calle Recoletos Nº12). In addition, there was an exhibition in the Barcelona street Muntaner Nº 78 by the company “Garaje Oliveras, Ibañez y Cía.”, Which was also dedicated to other British brands.

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The Renaissance

Perhaps it was in that establishment where the Singer Junior by Jose Luis López was sold, which despite corresponding to the year of production 1928 It is registered in Tarragona in February 1930.

We do not know why this "gap" is due; It could be that the car was two years waiting for a buyer at the dealership, that it was re-registered when it was sold second-hand ... or that due to those dark vicissitudes of the Spanish postwar period, it received the documentation of another vehicle after a warlike search.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
The chassis as it was found, with the old wooden body already dismantled

The fact is that we know little or nothing about the distant history of this unit, except that its current owner and restorer found it 22 years ago in the courtyard of an antique dealer in a small northern town.

The Singer was invaded by brambles and with its blond-wood body practically vanished due to the effects of the weather, but the fundamental elements were still there.

The front part retained the original fins, hood and torpedo - painted in blue by brush - and the mechanics were also reasonably complete and original, which encouraged Jose Luis to embark on the project.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
In this photo the work was already well advanced, including the new bodywork.

Most of the reconstruction tasks, apart from the painting work that was carried out in RM Clásicos workshops in Bilbao, was carried out by Jose Luis himself, a mechanic for many years.

Even the beautiful two-tone wood bodywork was remade in his own workshop., as well as a large number of bushings, bolts, plugs and countless pieces that were useless or missing. Even the steering box housing had to be welded completely cracked.

Jose Luis tells us about the “carburettor odyssey”, which happened when his son accidentally threw the engine - already finished repairing - from the test bench to the ground.

Singer Nine Junior Blonde
The small Solex carburetor that appeared at a fair in Irún

Due to this fall, the original carburetor broke and was rendered useless, so a search had to be started that spread to various countries ... It was even searched in Australia! Finally, by chance, a Frenchman appeared at a fair in Irún with one of these carburettors in a drawer, which could also be purchased at a reasonable price.

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Excellent work

The result of the restoration is obvious: A quality work, practically perfect, that brings us very close to what these strollers should be when they leave the dealership. You even looked for vintage colors by looking at old books and advertisements.

Such is the level of fidelity of the restoration that even the engine block was painted in the grayish-blue tone that they originally looked like. And the subject of our photos not only has a good aesthetic appearance, but we can attest to the good functioning of its mechanics.

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Singer Nine Junior Blonde
This Singer frequently attends rallies in northern Spain

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So much so that its owner assiduously takes it out to attend rallies, so it is not uncommon to see it circulating. In the dynamic aspect, the operation of the little motor is pleasant and turns quite well.

In addition, its sound, reasonably hoarse, gives us a certain sporty feeling that in this unit is penalized by the weight of the wooden body, although even so you can guess that the thruster moves the little blonde with joy.

The steering is quite direct and the brakes reasonably do their job, which is helped by the lightness of the chassis, although we cannot expect miracles if we take into account their size and that they lack any assistance.

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Singer Nine Junior Blonde
José Luis, the architect of the work

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This has meant that today many Singer Juniors –especially in England- have lost their original heavy bodies and are now mounting light two-seater “sport” bodies that, in addition to being very showy, allow you to enjoy all the power of the mechanics.

And this is why we should be grateful - once again - that Jose Luis restored this unit as it was, without trying to transform it into a small car like so many fans do today. And it is that this hobby not only lives from racing, but the search for originality is another fundamental part.

Thanks to his effort and tenacity, we can enjoy this precious veteran as he crossed the difficult Spanish roads of the time. And although it has nothing to do with the famous brand of sewing machines, we can say that now it works with the regularity of these devices.

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Francisco Carrion

Written by Francisco Carrion

My name is Francisco Carrión and I was born in Ciudad Real in 1988, a place that was not at first akin to vintage cars. Fortunately my grandfather, dedicated to the automotive sector, had friends who owned veteran cars and participated in the annual rally that was held (and continues to be held) in my hometown ... View all

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