Home / Projects & Restorations / British Sports Cars (Wilf Hardy) 6

At around the age of 15, I recall seeing a road test of a Vanguard engined Morgan and I was hooked on sports cars. I didn't ever own a Morgan however, mainly because I could never afford one. So my first car was certainly the most horrible sports car ever produced in the British Isles; a 1934 Singer Le Mans. It had no doors (just climb over the side). Typically Singer, it had about an 800 cc engine, with single chain driven overhead camshaft, two downdraft Solex carbs without air-filters and a two main bearings crankshaft. The 4 speed crash gearbox was well named as I never ever got the hang of crunch free changes. With no indicators you had to use hand signals, the steering had half a turn slack in it and being typically British the canvas top let more rain in than it kept out. The two seats were just loose cushions on the flat timber floor. I drove it from the RAAF base at Ballarat to Lismore on leave one time and on the way back the top came off a piston. A mate told me where I could find a derelict Singer sedan which I bought for ten pounds and put the engine in my car and it burnt 19 quarts of oil before I got back to Ballarat. I traded the Singer for a 1948 MG TC and the MG cockpit felt huge compared to the Singer. Like the singer, you still had to give hand signals and the rag top still leaked when it rained. It was nice having a partly synchromesh gearbox. The only crisis I had with this car, was that a front wheel hub broke near Mudgee when I watched the wheel bound over a fence and far into the paddock beyond. I sold the car just before being posted to Malaya, telling the buyer the car could do 90 mph. The following morning he came into work and called me a liar. He said he could only get it up to 85 mph, which was when he ran off the Wakehurst Parkway and sideswiped a tree. I heard later the crankshaft broke. Arriving in Malaya and still with little money I bought a new Berkley B65 cyclecar. Britain produces many cyclecars over the years, so called as they were powered by generally small motorbike engines and could be registered cheaply. The Berkley had a 347 cc two stroke Excelsior twin engine which probably produced about 15 bhp. However with a tiny fibreglass two seater body it went okay as the whole car only weighed 6 cwt. I used a book on souping up 150 cc BSA Bantam bikes and variety of files to good effect and could get the car up to 85 mph before the inevitable rapid deceleration caused by the beginning of the engine to seize in the tropical Malayan heat. But the car was a lot of fun. An advantage was that when we got a flat tyre, I could just hold the corner of the car up while Helen changed the wheel, it was that light. In the end, a very obvious bend in the middle of the body became evident due to 4 or 5 intoxicated guys climbing onto the car for short trips around town. (Obviously before Helen and I were married)! Returning home in 1960 we bought a house with my War Service Loan and over a number of years reared our three kids, so sports car were out for a while, until around 1982 I bought a 1955 Triumph TR2 all it bits for the grand sum of $500. When I got the TR on the road it gave me many year of pleasure. Fast, reasonably comfortable, it was Oh so much fun to drive, provided you kept in mind the doubtful handling. Of course the rag top leaked when it rained, but not as bad as the Singer. I'm sure many members will remember my TR2, but a few years back I gave the car to our eldest son as advancing years made it difficult to look after my 4 cars I had at the time. Finally, came the 1947 MG TC. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would have two TCs in my life. It will be my final British sports car and yes, as always, the rag top doesn't keep the rain out. So of all the doubtful sports cars I have owned, which one would be worth the most money in good nick today? You may be surprised that it would be the Singer, probably because there are so few left as most by now would have fallen apart, or rotted away from the rain entering from the hopeless rag top.