This 1934 Le Mans 1.5 litre Sports Special BKE185, with 13″ drums and 22 gallon tank was formerly owned by Colin Mills. .Its chassis no is LM10 (Mk1, using the 9hp chassis) and was purchased by Colin in July 1956 for £127 (8 weeks wages).
An accident in 1956 wrote it off. The chassis and axle were straightened and a new body was begun in 1958. Rebuild work slowed due to marriage, ceasing altogether in September 1963, when the car was garaged on blocks for 37 years.
Work restarted in 2000 after 5 children had left home.
‘When I bought the car in 1956 it looked like this, with the cycle wings already in place. After the car was written off in an accident in 1957, I decided to rebuild it and introduce a few changes to features I disliked and to meet future needs. I designed a new ash frame around new rear wings in 1958 and made this in 1960, with four modifications to the bodywork.
1 – I disliked the cramped cockpit and made the interior body 12″ wider.
2 – The space behind the seat was required for a future carry-cot, so the tank went back about 8″.
3 – The radiator grille was lowered 4″ to avoid looking along an up-hill bonnet.
4 – The spare wheel would be sloping, with an enclosed skirt and bumpers to protect all my new work.
Because the radiator was to be shorter. it had to be wider, so I had one made. This was installed further forward for more engine room. No Singer grille was now wide enough for the new radiator, the widest available, and similar in looks to the Singer B37, being from a MkV Jaguar. While I had no Singer alternative for the grille, I did try to use Singers parts where possible. For example, the front wings and headlights are 1947 Roadster. The original 6-cyl 1493cc, non-cross-flow, 2-carb engine was reburbished in 1958, but as I had always had trouble with this, for example, cracked block and low oil pressure, I decided after 40 years of consideration, to replace it with a more modern alternative – with an oil filter, water pump etc. and capable of motorway use. I sold the engine (no 2133) to another Singer owner with car and boat and installed a Triumph Vitesse 1.6. In 2002, after getting it in with much difficulty, as everything fell foul of the steering column and pedals, a little used Gazelle 1592cc engine became available.
On this engine, the carburettor, exhaust, starter motor and clutch slave cyliner are all on the near side, away from the steering column and pedals, so it was out with the Vitesse and in with the Gazelle, now unleaded and running. Not clear from the pictures, the new wider body protuded sideways some 6″ beyond the fuel tank each side, so as to retain the continuous body line edge, tank extensions were added – see rear view – with additional straps covering the joins. Looks more like 32 gallons now than 22!
Wider wheels suited the bulkier look and these fitted well on the 52mm dia splines – again looking like a B37. I’ve included a picture of one for you to compare with my front end as it looked last year. There is still some work to do, including the windscreen, which was only temporary and will not be used. Now I hope there are not too many purists or concours fanatics out there, as they may be shocked at my rebuild, which did not dulicate the original car. However, I knew the car would never be sold, so I thought it was better to modify it to suit my requirements rather than scrap it.
That was my choice – the car still has the original chassis, both axles, steering linkage, petrol tank, suspension, dampers, brakes and sidelights. The (minor?) changes to the body shape now suited my physically wider girth, so it must have been premonition 45 years ago when I started the rebuild!’