Bytes & Pieces May / June 2011

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Phillip
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Bytes & Pieces May / June 2011

Postby Phillip » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:32 am

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As published in NASOC NEWS some years ago, as well as recently in the Dutch Singer Owner’s Club magazine, Bill Vaughan’s ‘bio’ and a photo of a 4AD Roadster being raffled off as a ‘Give-a- way Car’ were featured in the 1952 New York Motor Sports Show brochure.

What is interesting about this is the way in which the photo of the ‘Give-a-way’ car fits into the Vaughan style and mystique, along with our old friends the Perry Fuller Singer Special, the ‘pre-SMX’ prototype previously discussed in eNEWS and the Vaughan Singer ‘Vibrin Roadster’ which I re-discovered back in 2002.

Here’s a composite picture comparing these disparate elements, put together to tie the threads of Vaughan’s signature details.

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The ‘Give-a-way Car’ featured large ‘cow-catcher ‘nerf bars’ that also appear on the ‘pre-SMX’, while the Vaughan-Singer Vibrin and the ‘pre-SMX’ both feature ‘Flipper’ after-market hubcaps that were popular in the 50’s.

The Fuller Special bears a strong resemblance to the ‘pre-SMX’ and it might have been pulled from a mould, or copied from the Fuller car. Perry Fuller’s name is never mentioned in Singer records or literature as having been directly involved in the SMX development program ,which was run by George Minton and his team in ‘Special Projects’. It is possible that via Bill Vaughan’s involvement, the Fuller body was pitched to Singer as a possible direction by which the company might improve trans-Atlantic sales of the very 1930’s styled Roadster. Indeed, Vaughan planned to market the Fuller bodied cars via his dealership in the USA.

The interesting thing about the Fuller car and the ‘pre-SMX’ is the very crude construction of the latter compared to the former. Look at the rough and irregular front wheel arch, the crude ‘cut-out vents’ and lumpy headlamp nacelles of the pre-SMX body when compared to the much more professionally finished Fuller car.

Design work began on the SMX program in January of 1953 and the JET magazine article on Fuller stating his involvement with Singer as a body designer was printed in April 23rd, 1953, some time after the SMX program had begun. The Fuller car was still being raced in the USA in late May of 1953…at Bridgehampton on the 23rd… driven by Vaughan.

The final ‘pre-production’ SMX design…SMX 1…was unveiled on October 21st, 1953 at the annual Motor Show to great interest, so it must have been finished some time before that.

Although only 4 or 5 SMX complete prototypes are believed to have been built, perhaps as many as 15 bodies were made in various design studies as the program progressed. It’s possible that the Fuller style car was considered as one of these design studies at Vaughan’s suggestion, considering how many of his ‘design signatures’ appear on the ‘pre-SMX’. Its crude nature could indicate a non-running model as opposed to a real completed car. Sadly, no date or location is attributed to the only known ‘pre-SMX’ photo, although it is a cropped version of a shot taken at what appears to be some sort of media gathering and includes a standard Roadster in the photo call.

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