Singer Gazelle

The Singer Gazelle name has been applied to two generations of motor cars from the British manufacturer the Rootes Group, using the Singer marque. It was positioned between the basic Hillman range and the more sporting Sunbeam versions.

Gazelle I and II

The Gazelle was the first Singer to be produced following the take-over of the Singer company by the Rootes Group in 1956 and was a version of the mainstream Hillman Minx differing mainly in retaining the Singer overhead cam engine. Externally the only significant difference was a restyled nose based around a traditional Singer grille.

The body style followed by the Gazelle between 1956 and 1967 came to be known as the "Audax" body, with significant input from the US based Loewy design organisation, highly regarded at the time partly on account of Loewy's input to several iconic Studebaker designs.

The Mk II Gazelle, offered from Autumn 1957, could be bought as an estate car, and had optional overdrive and larger fuel tank.

The suspension was independent at the front using coil springs while at the rear was a live axle and half elliptic leaf springs. The steering gear used a worm and nut system.

As standard, the car had a bench front seat but individual seats were available as an option. To allow for the bench seat, the handbrake lever was between the seat and the door.

The drophead version had a two position hood where it could be either completely lowered or rolled back to just behind the front seats described as the coupé de ville position. All side windows could be completely lowered. To compensate for the loss of body rigidity by the removal of the roof, extra cross bracing was fitted under the car.

A car with overdrive was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1957. It had a top speed of 78.0 mph (125.5 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 24.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 33.5 miles per imperial gallon (8.43 L/100 km; 27.9 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1016 including taxes of £332. This included the optional overdrive, heater and radio.

Gazelle IIA to IIIC

The main change when the Gazelle II became the IIA was the standard Hillman pushrod overhead valve engine replaced the Singer overhead cam unit. The new engine was more powerful, developing 56 bhp against 49 bhp.

In line with Rootes Group policy the car kept getting small upgrades each with a new designation. In September 1958 the car became the III, received better seats, now enhanced at the front by a folding central arm rest. A new duo-tone paint became available with this upgrade.

The IIIA of 1959 gained small tail fins and a larger windscreen. The engine was upgraded with twin Solex carburettors replacing the single Solex, distinguishing it from the Minx, and lifting output to 60 bhp. Home market cars got a floor gear change and as well as overdrive, Smiths Easidrive automatic transmission also became an option.

The 1960 IIIB reverted to a single carburettor which improved fuel consumption and facilitated servicing "in remoter territories". The IIIB also received a new back axle featuring a hypoid bevel in place of the former model's spiral bevel.

A larger engine of 1592 cc developing 53 bhp was fitted to the July 1961 IIIC. The convertible was dropped in February 1962 followed by the estate car in March 1962.

A Series III convertible with the 1494 cc engine was tested by The Motor in 1959. It was recorded as having a top speed of 83.4 mph (134.2 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.2 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.5 miles per imperial gallon (8.69 L/100 km; 27.1 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1003 including taxes of £295. This included the optional overdrive. The convertible cost £67 more than the saloon.

Gazelle V

There was no Gazelle IV. The Gazelle V, following the Minx update, had an updated body with longer rear doors and no longer having a wrap around rear window.

The front brakes became discs and from 1964 it got a new gearbox with synchromesh on first gear. The optional Borg Warner automatic got a floor mounted selector lever.

Gazelle VI

The VI is the last and rarest of the "Audax" Gazelles. The engine is all new with a five bearing crankshaft and capacity of 1725 cc at first developing 65 bhp but this was later reduced to 59 bhp.

The Singer grille, its top now somewhat flattened, was no longer attached to the opening bonnet but remained fixed to the front panels on opening.

Second generation

See Rootes Arrow

Australian production

Singer Gazelle

The Singer Gazelle was also produced in Australia from 1957 to 1961 by Rootes Australia. It was offered in Sports Saloon, Station Wagon and Estate Van models.

Hillman Gazelle

Following the purchase of Rootes Australia in 1965, Chrysler Australia produced a variant of the Gazelle VI as the Hillman Gazelle.


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