Motoring legend Stuart Bladon dies aged 89

The Southern Group of Motoring Writers is sad to learn of the death of Stuart Bladon, motoring journalist, car enthusiast and a stalwart of SGMW.

We were delighted to catch up with Stuart, a retired SGMW member, at our Christmas lunch earlier this month.

SGMW chairman Ian Robertson said: “Stuart was another motoring legend who will be sorely missed.

“An expert in his field, he had a vast knowledge of all things automotive and was highly respected by so many people working across the motoring industry.

“He was a real character, good company and great entertainment and he was always very supportive of everything we were doing and trying to achieve.”

Stuart, who was 89, was a motoring journalist who devoted his life to an enthusiasm for cars.

After a very half-hearted attempt to enter medical school, he undertook National Service in 1953.

On completion, he found a job working as a writer for what was then The Autocar. Over the next 26 years he road-tested hundreds of the latest cars.

In 1977, he was chairman of the Guild of Motoring Writers, the largest and most prestigious organisation of automotive editorial professionals in the world with well over 500 members in the UK and overseas.

He left Autocar in 1981 and set up business as a freelance motoring writer. His career continued unabated and he continued to test cars for many years. He published articles right up until this year.

Stuart published many books. For many years he was the editor of the Observers Book of Cars. Other books include BMW, Range Rover Companion, Tackle Car Maintenance and Great Marques. He is pictured signing a copy of one of his books for SGMW member Massimo Pini at our Christmas lunch in 2018.

In 2015 he published his autobiography, No Speed Limit, 60 years of Road Testing Classic Cars, where he documented many of the adventures of these tests. In self-effacing style, the book is devoted to the cars, and each chapter is a different car, rather than documenting the passages of Stuart’s life.

In 2009, on the spur of the moment, he purchased a 1979 Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible. This led him to join the Wessex section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club and editorship of its magazine.

Stuart died on December 13, after dinner with his son and daughter-in-law.

He had had a heart condition since 2005 and had also become hard of hearing. However, he remained alert and able right until the end.

On the afternoon of his last day he drove his Audi A3 Convertible more than 60 miles, in sub-zero conditions, without complaint or incident.