Bytes & Pieces January 2011

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Bytes & Pieces January 2011

Postby Phillip » Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:16 am

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What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892, Act III

One of my responsibilities as Pre-War Registrar for NASOC is to vet and evaluate cars for members or any interested parties who contact me. That, of course, includes the inevitable, “How much is it worth?”

There’s been a fair bit of discussion recently on the rising value of Singer cars, especially, but not exclusively, pre-war sports models. The astonishing price paid for AVC 484, one of the four wonderful TT racing cars may seem on the surface to be dramatic, but in reality it is cheap in comparison to similar cars from some other august British makes of the period, especially for a racing car that gets you an instant ticket to all the world’s greatest historic motoring events. Singers have been undervalued for years considering their quality and place in British motoring history and it was only a matter of time perhaps, but is this price rise a long overdue realisation of the real value of Singer cars, or a more fundamental and cynical financial market shift of a type we have seen before? Perhaps it is both.

The great financial crash of ‘08 saw a flood of money out of the market and into ‘tangibles’, solid stuff that won’t vapourise like our ‘paper’ cash. Vintage and classic cars were once again on the menu and the auction circuits have been going gang-busters in spite of the doom & gloom we all see day-to-day on the news. This is probably more the speculator’s market than the enthusiast’s market and, as we know, the speculators move on to the ‘next big thing’ and can’t be counted on to last other than to over inflate values in the short term.

I have researched, restored and enjoyed Singer cars, especially the Pre-war sports models, my entire adult life and have always maintained that they were under-appreciated and undervalued. That said, I recognize their somewhat ‘orphan’ status in the market and was able to enjoy them as a result, long after comparable MG’s and Morgans had gone out of reach. Those Marques, for example, were built in larger numbers, had much larger world-wide club support and enjoyed excellent spares availability. Singers, relative, did not.

Much has changed. It is telling that the SOC in the UK chose to feature ‘Singer Technology for the 21st Century’ as their 60th Anniversary launch because between SOC Pre-War Spares Guru Dave Hardwick and the amazing Gibson Brothers, just about everything you’d need to restore a Pre-war Singer sports car is now available. That changes the game and the word is getting out there that a Singer Le Mans, for example, is a wonderful and reasonably priced Pre-war sports car that you can get spares for too!

Will both these sides of the coin result in Singer car prices rising and staying there? It’s hard to tell. More Pre-war Singer sports cars came onto the auction market this year than I have ever seen before and the last of the year, the ’36 Ruddy Team trials car failed to sell. That many Singer cars of that type on offer in a year is nothing less than a glut! Perhaps the ‘AVC Factor’ encouraged some to realise a profit while they could, but the trend was certainly an unusual one.

While it is hard to predict the vagaries of the market, what I can say with certainty is that we should just continue to consider the cars the way we always have as true Marque enthusiasts: Value them for the characteristics that first attracted us, rather than for the financial gain we might realise as a result of ownership. On the plus side, it’s nice to know that the time and money you put into doing a first-class restoration will not be lost should you decide to sell!

In short, Motor On Friends and just enjoy the ride!
Your Friendly Canadian Pre-War Singer Specialist, Collector & Historian,
Editor & Pre-War Registrar & Canadian Contact -NASOC
Singer Enthusiast for over 40 Years.
'28 Senior, '33 & '34 Sports, '36 Le Mans SS & Bantam

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