Kenneth Neve, OBE

Sadly, the entire vintage motoring world is mourning the death, after a long illness, of Kenneth Neve, OBE, at the age of 84. He was a highly successful and popular personality, both in business and in his pastime of rebuilding and running older motor-cars, which was a full-time relaxation.

Educated at Tonbridge School and then apprenticed to Vickers-Armstrong, Neve spent his entire business life with Turner Newall and was awarded the OBE for his services to Industry. But his hobby was motoring, preferable with vintage and older cars. He was President of the VSCC from 1960 to 1963 and also a member of the RAC Historic Car Committee and the CSI Sub-committee for voitures anciennes. He began by racing a motorcycle of his own conception, and then a Brough Superior, at Brooklands and after being posted to the North of England took an active part in VSCC affairs there, and with Peter Wike formed its Northern Section.

Neve owned a great number of the better vintage cars, 30-98s predominating, but Bugattis being used for racing. (It is all delightfully detailed in his book A Bit Behind The Times, published by Grenville in 1988.) Then Kenneth heard of a 1914 TT Humber derelict in Wales and bought and fully restored it, and then raced it regularly with much enjoyment; his daughter Judy Portway now has custody of it. But Neve was very versatile, building his own versions of 500cc racing cars when this class was just a post-WW2 idea to provide impecunious motor racing. He also built up a Frazer Nash to his own ideas and sampled a great many other cars, of good pedigree and otherwise. Such a large sampling, in fact, that space precludes a complete list. But one recalls his racing Beardmore, Boulogne II Frazer Nash, 14/40 MG, several more Specials, etc. But his best-liked car was probably the TT Humber, towed to meetings behind his immaculate and long-serving Phantom II Rolls-Royce drop-head, and the 1911 “London-Edinburgh” 40/50hp Rolls-Royce which he meticulously rebuilt and then with it re-enacted the famous R-R topgear run between those two capitals. Later a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III convertible became part of the fleet.

Kenneth Neve epitomised the best aspects of the vintage car movement. He enjoyed good living, good wine, and was faithful to his many but carefully chosen friends. His wife Jo supported these interests but sadly died before he did. To Judy and Nic Portway and his many friends, our heartfelt condolences. W B