The Imp Site

John Surtees

World Champion racing driver who writes in the Sunday Mirror every week

says: Women will like
this chic car

I have been driving the Singer Chamois, a smallish, economical family car on my first road test for Sunday Mirror readers.

It fills a useful gap between the Minis and the medium-sized popular saloons.

T for Car Test, Chammy in T

Women will like the Chamois because of the big doors and high seat that you can slide on to without jack-knifing yourself into awkward positions.

Although it is small, parkable, and good for negotiating town traffic, it has a big car appearance.

The impression of squatness on its cheaper sister —the Hillman Imp— has been removed by styling changes, including a flash on the side which gives it a longer, more streamlined look.

I found the driving position good and the forward vision excellent. I have heard criticisms of the upright seat, but in this type or car it is acceptable, and it helps you to see well over the bonnet to the road immediately in front.

This is useful in town and night driving —and in bad conditions.

The clutch, brake and accelerator pedals were light in action, but due to the wheel arch cutting well into the car, the accelerator and brake were too near the centre and forced the right foot in.

I liked the instrument panel with its nicely positioned cowled horizontal-scale-speedometer, which I could see easily through the steering wheel.

I liked the unorthodox twin stalks jutting out below the speedometer which operate tlle dip-switch, headlight flasher, turn indicators and horn. These are in easy fingertip reach from the steering wheel.

I liked the way the floor change gear lever and hand brake are comfortably set for the left hand.

I liked the idea of individual ashtrays and storage pockets for back seat passengers.

I didn't like the arm rests. They appeared to be a last-minute thought, and did not give the Impression of quality.

The car had done only just over 3,000 miles, but it was disappointing to see the early signs of rust along the door edges, the front bonnet and the rear engine cover.

This was clearly due to scarcity of paint — a complaint I have heard voiced too often about British cars.

The reason for the rust on the bonnet was that a rubber seating strip did not run the full length around the edges, and the two metal surfaces were rubbing together.

Apart from this, the body finish was good.

The rubber insert in the over-riders is a good idea picked up from the Continentals. They save those annoying bumper dents and scratches.

The wheel arches could have benefited from under-sealing to reduce road noise and protect what are normally rust-prone spots.

The Dunlop SP41 tyres, although superior in road holdlng to standard production type tyres, did create a little 'roughness' and noise at low speeds and on rough surfaces.

There was a fair amount of noise from the rear-mounted engine nearing top speeds in each gear, although at normal cruising speeds it was not objectionable.

There were no annoying body rattles — just a 'tinny' effect when you closed the doors.

I liked the all-synchromesh gear box, which was nice to use.

After leaving the car out all night there was a little difficulty getting it into first gear. but when it warmed up, this disappeared. This is one of the better standard production gear boxes.

I left the car out for two cold nights, but with the help of the automatic choke, the engine burst into life immediately I turned the switch.

It took about three miles before it reached the proper running temperature, but then it settled down nicely.

I found the top speed of 80 m.p.h. quite satisfactory, but my first impression was that the engine, although smooth, was a little under capacity for the size of the car.

You must use the gearbox to the full to keep up a good average speed, especially when loaded. This can be tiring and a strain over distances.

I would have liked a little more power at lower revs for hills. The increased capacity would give more middle-range power with no loss of economy.

The Chamois has reasonably good road holding characteristics at normal speeds, and for driving it was quite predictable.

But the suspension doesn't lend itself to fast sports car driving techniques. Ir you try to throw it around, it seems as if you can't tell what it is liable to do.

Stability svas also affected by strong cross winds.

Brakes are positive and good, although there is a considerable amount of free movement in the brake pedal.

The boot was quite big for a car this size.

I also liked the opening rear window, although in my test car the window catch DIDN'T catch.

And the rear seat can be folded down to give extra space for luggage which can be loaded through this window.

Touring for two could be very pleasant —and cheap with a fuel consumption of around 40 m.p.g. In town, or with hard driving, vou will get around 34 m.p.g.

I drove the Chamois on fast roads, on country roads, and in London in the five days that was all the Rootes Group allowed me. My verdict:

A chic car, comfortable, easy to drive, nicely fitted and finished generally, and a very fair buy for £581.
Facts and Figures

Cost: £581 1ls. 3d. (inc. p.t.).   Turning circle: 30½ft.   Length: 1 lft. 9½in.   Width: 5ft. ¼in.   Tank capacity: 6 gal.   Brake h.p.: 42.

John Surtees says: Women will like this chic car : Car Test - The Singer Chamois. - Sunday Mirror, 31 January 1965. - page 28

John Surtees (11 Feb 1934 in Tatsfield) is the only man to win World Championship titles on two and four wheels.
He began racing on two wheels in 1951. From 1956-1960 John was the outstanding rider of the day, and won a total of seven World Championship titles on 350cc and 500cc machines.
In 1960, he raced a Ken Tyrrell Cooper car at Goodwood - and won. John made his Grand Prix debut in 1960 for Team Lotus, and driving for Ferrari won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1964. In total John drove in 111 Grand Prix, scoring a total of six wins, eight pole positions and eleven fastest laps. Scoring a total of 180 World Championship points.

Mike Parkes was a driver for Scuderia Ferrari from 1962-67; John Surtees from 1963-66 en 1970. Surtees won the Drivers World Championship in 1964 in a Ferrari, and the Can-Am Championship in 1966.
It is said that Parkes and Surtees had a 'strained' relationship.
Surtees didn't just ride bikes & drove cars very well (quick not not reckless), he also had a deep interest in the workings of his machines. He liked to tinker and probe in an unceasing quest for technical perfection.

They did not finish the 1000km Nürburgring, 1966 June 5: John Surtees and Mike Parkes in their Ferrari 330p3 Spyder (car#: 1), entered by SfA Ferrari SEFAC. They had trouble with the clutch as well as suspension (the damper) and had to quit in the 35th lap (of 44).
Surtees did do the fastest round during practice and in the race (2nd. lap), too.

The Imp Site
Imps in journals and newspapers

Surtees TS20 ??
© Franka