If you are an enthusiast as well as a journalist the chances are that you will find Graham Robson on your bookshelf. In 50 years as a professional author, he produced nearly 170 books on motoring subjects, ranging from marque histories to biographies of designers and engineers and stories of rallies and rally people.
He was, without doubt, the Guild’s most prolific author and his work won numerous awards in Britain and America, including the Montagu Trophy in 2004.
Graham died peacefully on 5 August at home in Dorset, where he had seemed to be recovering slowly from a fall in May which fractured his hip and had required a long spell in hospital. He was 85 years old.
A Yorkshireman with a blunt manner that some found abrasive, he was modest about his own achievements and intensely loyal to his friends and colleagues. His writing was always crisp and clear and without pretension and his research was thorough, aided by his own extensive library of books and journals.
He graduated from Oxford in 1957 and joined Jaguar as a trainee design engineer. Involved in rallying at a club level, he was given the opportunity to co-drive for the Rootes team of Sunbeams in international events and that led to a full-time job as manager of the Standard-Triumph motorsport operation, rallying Triumph TR4s and Spitfires and racing at Le Mans. Later, in 1965, he was to co-drive with Roger Clark in a Lotus-Cortina to win the Welsh International Rally.
By then, Graham had entered journalism, joining the Autocar Midland office. Over the next five years he worked on all aspects of the magazine and his technical assessments of cars brought him to the attention of Chrysler UK who made him chief engineer of product proving. A short spell at seat-belt maker Kangol followed, before he returned to journalism as a freelance with a plan to write books that would appeal to the growing classic car movement.
The first of these was, logically, The Story of Triumph Sports Cars for Motor Racing Publications in 1973. Graham was quickly established as the complete professional: his editors (of which I was one) appreciated that his copy was always accurate, well presented, to length and on time. He had a ferocious work ethic – all day, every day, and if he allowed himself some time off, he prided himself on ‘always making up for it’. He never retired and was still working on a major project at the time of the accident.
Graham’s continuous stream of books was to make him well known in classic car circles and he was much sought-after as a guest of marque clubs and as a commentator at concours and historic car events, including the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
His wife Pam died seven years ago in a care home, after a long retreat into Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his sons Hamish and Jonathan to whom we send all sympathy.
Graham’s funeral will be held at Weymouth Crematorium, at 1pm on Monday, 6 September. There will be a remote web cam service facility for those unable to make the journey. For details contact Jonathan Robson at firstname.lastname@example.org.