Humber Super Snipe

It’s not uncommon for me to make small edits and adjustments to my blog posts after I’ve published them.  In most cases I do it after I’ve read my post next day, when I can see small typos, or perhaps see clearer or more accurate ways to express myself in one or several sentences.   However, in this case I’ve made significant changes to the original post I published last night, and that includes the featured image on the home page.   The new image was put together in Photoshop from an advert that you can see below in a B&W image of a magazine spread.

My original post started off by writing that my 2010 model Lexus IS 250 is without doubt the most reassuring car I’ve driven since  I sold my 1960 Humber Super Snipe in 1975 and bought an imported  Datsun 180B.  I used to love the Humber Super Snipe, which I inherited from my father who passed away in 1964.   It was a large imported car from Britain, with a 3 litre 6 cylinder in-line engine that developed 130 bhp.  It had disk brakes and automatic transmission, and a polished wood dashboard.  It was a true luxury car in its day.  The photo below was taken on a day trip with my parents to Carpenter’s Rocks in south east South Australia, an hours drive from our home at Mount Gambier.  My father took the photo.


I’ve always been a great fan of Humber cars, and the Super Snipe and the Pullman limousine in particular, for many years, so I was thrilled when my father bought the Super Snipe  in 1960.

I’ll now go back in time to 1954, and the the Humber Super Snipe of the day, as shown in the featured image.  You can see the original advert (in B&W) in the image below from the UK Daily Telegraph – a special issue perhaps.   As you can see, the pages have aged.  On the left page you can see the original advert for the 1954 Humber Super Snipe, and on the right page you can see (if you look closely) a map of the world showing the Queen’s journey around the world in 1954.


After her Coronation in June 1953, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent 6 months in 1954 touring the world, including several months Australia and New Zealand.  They travelled by sea on the Gothic.  As part of this trip they spent a day in Mount Gambier.  I had graduated from High School the year before and had begun work at The Commercial Bank of Australia Limited.  The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh flew into Mount Gambier and landed at the airport about 5 miles north of our home.  The only route from the airport to the town was past our home.  From our front lawn I saw the royal visitors on their way into town and on their return to the airport.

The Queen and Duke travelled in an open 4-door version of the Humber Super Snipe in the above advert.  My father took the photo below at Vansittart Park in the near central part of  Mount Gambier.   The open Humber Super Snipe was a custom built vehicle, and as you can see, it’s not a convertible, which would be 2-door.


The city Mayor (Mr Marks as I recall) and his wife are standing in front of the car to welcome the royal visitors.

Here is a shot of the Queen and Duke at the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier.  I don’t suppose they remember the scene as they went through so much in a few months.  My head would be reeling if I ever did what they did.   But the photo holds magic for me.  It shows the young Queen and the Duke at the main scenic spot in the South Australian country town I was born and grew up in.


Here’s another shot of the royal Humber.

As I mentioned about, the Royal Tour in 1954 was in the year after the Coronation.  One of the greatly admired guests at the Coronation was Queen Salote of Tonga, seen below.

Sadly, Queen Salote died in 1965, and her son reigned as King Tupou IV, until his death in 2006.  He was succeeded by King George Tupou V.  The photo below shows a scene after the coronation of Tupou V,  in his Humber Pullman.



Humber Pullman - King of Tonga


Update – 29 October 2012

Today I came across the history of the above car.  It was one of seven landaulet-bodied Humber Pullmans built for a  tour of the Commonwealth by King George VI (our Queen’s father), but the tour was cancelled because of the King’s failing health.  One of the cars was purchased by Queen Salote of Tonga, pictured above waving from a horse drawn open carriage.  It was later sold and went to Australia.  Her grandson (above) located it and bought it back, and had it restored.

You can read the rest of the story at the restorer’s website together with a slideshow of photos showing the progress of the restoration until it’s completion and use at the coronation.


12 thoughts on “Humber Super Snipe”

  1. The Humber is beautiful.
    I have the same model,the last one is build.
    One of the 12 cars are make.
    There are 3 cars known,one in canada,tonga and I have one.

    Best Regards
    Rob Arijjansen
    The Netherlands

    • Thanks for your comment, Rob. I see on your website that you are a Rootes Group Service specialist in The Netherlands (and SAAB also).

      On your website I noticed several photos of a deep burgundy colour Sunbeam Talbot. When I was a teenager (in the 1950’s) I used to admire the advertisements for it in magazines – hand drawn sketches showing the Sunbeam speeding along the road. In those days it was common practice to use an artist to create detailed and lifelike drawings of cars for magazine advertisements. And of course the artist subtly adjusted the length and lines of the car to make it look as beautiful as possible. I thought the Sunbeam looked stunning in the advertisements.

      Here’s a photo of the convertible model, taken in Bermuda during the Queen’s 1953-54 six-month round-the-world tour. You won’t often see a Sunbeam Talbot with no number plate, the royal crown, and the Queen’s personal standard fluttering in the breeze.

      Sunbeam Talbot royal car

      Best Regards,
      John Hill

      • Hallo John,
        Bedankt voor jou reactie.
        Mijn vader was Rootes dealer van 1946-1982.
        Ik heb nog meer Rootes auto”s.
        Singer gazelle convetible serie3 1958,Hillman minx estate
        serie 3 1958,Sunbeam Talbot dhc 1952,Sunbeam Talbot alpine
        1952,sunbeam alpine 5 1968,Humber pullman landaulette,
        Humber super snipe Convetible serie 2 1949.
        And more than 500 hundred scale models.
        Best regards
        Rob Arijjansen.

        • Hi Rob,
          Thank you for your latest comment. Unfortunately you have written some of it in your own language, which I presume is Dutch. I don’t know any Dutch language, nor would most of my readers I expect.

          However, because of similarities between European languages I will have a guess at what your wrote, for the benefit of my other readers (if any).

          “Hello John,
          Thanks for your response.
          My father was a Rootes dealer from 1946 to 1982.”

          I’m a little unsure of the next sentence, but I’d guess that you are saying you own more cars that the Sunbeam Talbot on your website. And then you list them.

          Wow! What a spectacular collection of some of my favourite classics.


  2. thanks for posting the photos of your humber and the royal tour vehicles. i did get to see the open top super snipe when the royal tour went through toowoomba. i have a soft spot for super snipes. i learnt to drive in a 53 model in western queensland, they were the only car that could take the punishment of the so called roads of the time. my family had 3 at one stage and humbers in the 50,s were a common site in outback qld. one of my uncles had a pullman which he intended to cut down to build a truck so he could carry more sheep in it my mother thankfully bought it from him to save it. regards bill kelly

    • Thanks for your comments, Bill. I’ve always liked Humber Super Snipes – not only the ones from 1960 on, but also the older ones, which I think look very elegant. I didn’t realise Humbers were common in the outback as I’d assumed they would be too genteel. I’m pleased to learn otherwise. I’m glad your mother had the presence of mind to save the old Pullman from being cut down to build a truck to carry sheep. What a sacrilege that would have been. By the way, perhaps you read that King George Tupou V of Tonga seen in the photos of the Pullman at his coronation on 1 August 2008, passed away two months ago, on 18 March 2012.

      John Hill

      • hello john, thanks for your reply, it seems we are on the same wave length regarding humbers. i had a lot to do with them years ago when i lived at blackall in western qld. my 3 uncles all had snipes they convinced my mother that super snipes were the way to go. at the time she had a jag mk5 which was to low for bush roads. i started to learn to drive in the jag and progressed to the super snipe. my mother bought super snipes until they stopped making them. the later 60,s models were not as good as the early models on bad roads lots of body cracking due to no chassis probably driving them flat out dident help matters. i drove a 53 snipe a few years back i couldn’t get over how heavy they were but still a pleasure to drive. regards bill kelly

  3. That’s a fascinating addition John.

    How privileged were you at a young age to have the new Queen drive past your front door … twice in the one day!

    Also, that Humber Pullmans restoration story was a right royal family affair.

    Cheers, Ralph

  4. Hello All, I am new to this site. I have a 1949 Humber Pullman, that went to Hamilton Bermuda. It is now in Ontario Canada.I believe it was on of the 7 built to be used on a tour of the Commonwealth by King George VI of England.

    If anybody is interested I will figure out how to post some pictures on this site. I have some of Churchill, Governor Hood, etc… in the car.


    • Thanks for your comment Jim.

      The WordPress software I use does not have a facility for people making comments to add their own photos. If you want to add photos to the web your easiest option could be to create a Facebook page and post the photos to that, or use Flickr or pBase, or perhaps even start your own blog site at – it’s free and would be all managed in your browser.

  5. Hello Humber Fans,

    My Uncle has one of the Humber Snipes from the Coronation Tour. It’s for sale in Massachusetts. Please let me know if you are interested and I will send sale info.




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