Obituary

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Michael C. Sedgwick

From Lord Montagu of Beaulieu

Michael C. Sedgwick, who died at Midhurst, Sussex in October at the age of 57, was a world renowned authority on the history of the motor car and had major works published in several languages.

Educated at Winchester and Corpus Christi, Oxford, he began his career in publishing in 1948, with a brief spell as a schoolmaster. I met Michael Sedgwick twenty-five years ago, when the Veteran and Vintage Magazine was in its infancy and for which he offered to report Veteran and Vintage events. I readily agreed and so regular were they and so reliable and well-informed, that he contributed increasingly to the Editorial of the Magazine and subsequently became involved in Beaulieu, to where he moved in 1958 to become Curator of the then Montagu Motor Museum. So started a long association with the Museum and with me personally.

After the National Motor Museum was opened at Beaulieu in 1972, he became Director of Research. He was also a member of the Veteran Car Club’s dating committee, chairman of the UK Chapter of the Society of Automotive Historians and UK Research Associate of Automobile Quarterly, yet with a prodigious capacity for work and no desire for holidays, he found time to index the Museum’s extensive library. At the time of his death Michael was involved in a list of the technical and historical features of every car sold on the British market and an encyclopaedia of the 1,000 most significant motor manufacturers worldwide since 1886. He has been a major contributor to the Complete Encyclopaedia of Motor Cars.

For the past ten years he had been consultant to Christie’s for car auctions and had a photographic memory for every vehicle ever encountered on the auction circuit and every price realised. He was to be seen surrounded by a fascinated crowd answering every manner of question ranging from what were the Humber factory colour options in 1924 to what should be in the tool kit.

His enthusiasm for the subject was boundless, his encyclopaedic knowledge dazzling his audiences and readers, and the speed with which he could supply accurate and well-written copy put most other journalists to shame. He will be much missed not only by all of us at Beaulieu, who valued his great talents, but I know by many others, who have fond memories of Michael, in characteristic sartorial disarray, holding forth and giving advice to all concerned at auction preview days in a variety of languages, whether at Beaulieu, London or abroad.

I shall miss him as a loyal friend and tutor and would like to pay tribute now for all the help he gave me as co-author of my various books, for whose research he was responsible and the style of which he inspired. He indeed set a standard for motoring historians which will be hard to follow but will inspire many to try.