Coventry Herbert Museum I came across letters written by Harry in 1936. In the February issue, he writes about his high satisfaction with the car after covering 18,000 miles in 1935. Quite a mileage for those days. “I must explain that I grudge the car nothing in the way of grease, penetrating oil, adjustments, etc, and it is still in excellent tune. With regard to oil, it can be seen that as I change the sump oil every 1,500 miles (Essolube), an average of 1,358 mpg is sufficient praise.” Harry meticulously lists all
However, there is another mystery to investigate - in the letters mentioned above, Harry writes: “My wife’s (Singer?) 11 - her second - is also a fine car”. Where do I start? Cyril.
The Singer Special which has been for sale in California (Mascot March - April 2012), started life as a Le Mans Coupé in apple green and ivory, registration AJO 255. How do I know this? Because my step-grandfather, Harry Mairs, bought it new from Laytons of Oxford on 1st January 1935. I remember him telling tales of ‘seeing off’ an MG PA on his daily journey from Buckingham to Slough, where he taught maths at the grammar school. Unfortunately all details and photos of the car were put on a bonfire by my grandmother celebrating her 100th birthday (“Nobody will want this old stuff”!)
However, a couple of years ago, while flicking through copies of the Singer in-house magazine Popular Motoring at
The Phillips’ Special – the Story Continues - from Cyril Verey
his costs for the year (eg 487 gallons of petrol at 37 mpg - £35 18s 11d - about 1/6d or 7p a gallon), and calculates that, including depreciation, his motoring cost him about 1.6 (old) pence per mile. In September 1936, a second letter summarises his costs after completing 30,000 miles. These letters gave me the chassis number of the car, and Bob Dibben kindly provided the factory record. Donald Cowbourne’s book of British Trials Drivers showed that
Harry was not content with driving to Slough during the week, as he entered the Colmore Trophy Trial on Saturday 22nd February 1936. This started at Fish Hill, Broadway, and ended nine climbs later at Birdlip. Conditions by all accounts were atrocious. There had been a hard frost for weeks and then, a few days before the event, a thaw set in, making the hills excessively slippery. There is no record of how the Coupé got on. Harry exchanged the Singer for a Rover saloon in 1937 and we have no
knowledge of it until it appeared bodiless in John Horne’s back garden in the early sixties. It was acquired by a Californian car collector in 1971, joining a 36 Bugatti 57 and an Alvis TF21 with specially-built Graber bodywork. He sold the Singer to his son, Charley de Limur, a year later for one dollar. Charley has looked after the car for 40 years, but has now put it up
for sale. I did briefly consider the cost of bringing grandfather’s car home, but my wife sensibly suggested that if I have spare cash it ought to be spent on my Nine Sports, which would win the prize for ‘car most in need of attention’. Not everything disappeared in the bonfire, because I have Harry’s car badge for the Singer Motor Car Club, newly formed in 1935, which is securely fixed to the front of my car.
An LM Coupé like
The Phillips Special Body
on Harry’s LM Coupé Chassis
AMD 485 Carrying
Harry’s SMCC Badge
Another Article from the May - June 2012 Mascot