LJK - Micky
Has Setright died?

LJK - Avant
Nothing about him in Google: he's over 70 but was writing recently. Have you heard something?

Like the late and much lamented Phil Llewellin, LJKS was part of the great days of CAR.
LJK - Micky
">L.J.K. Setwright Dies at 74<"



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LJK - Pugugly {P}

I opened this with some dread. How very,very sad and real loss to the English language and the motoring world. I will dig out my early CARs to read and enjoy his work this weekend. How he would have mocked his own obituary though..buried in a corner of some foreign website under what are, in my honest opinion the most mediocre of motor cars. I wonder if his Bristol is for sale....

Thanks LJK

LJK - Micky
Hopefully the Telegraph or the Times will provide an improved obit, I shall instruct them accordingly ;-)
LJK - mlj
His articles in Car magazine in the 80s must stand as exemplars of motoring journalism at its finest. Despite his obsessing over the Honda Prelude, his column was the one you read regardless of its' subject matter. His erudite and entirely subjective work will be missed enormously.

LJK - PhilW
Agree mlj - "in the 80s " - and even earlier, mention of him takes me back to my teens - superb writer (whether you agree with him or not) and a sad loss.
LJK - Stuartli
I have enjoyed LJK's company on many occasions - a superb writer and equally fine driver.

I'm very sad to hear such news.
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LJK - A. Badger
This is very sad news. As others have said, CAR magazine in the 1960s and '70s was truly revolutionary - with implications for journalism way beyond the confines of the 'muttering rotters' - and LJK was an integral part of that revolution.

It's doubly sad that, since the demise of CAR, that quality of writing about cars has been largely superceded by the 'whiz-bang' school of laddishness and, in particular, that LJK's cool, clear intellect was almost completely ignored. What a waste.

He will be missed.
LJK - henry k
It's doubly sad that, since the demise of CAR, that quality
of writing about cars has been largely superceded by the 'whiz-bang'
school of laddishness and, in particular, that LJK's cool, clear intellect
was almost completely ignored. What a waste.
He will be missed.


I agree.

A couple of reviews on Drive On! A Social History of the Motor Car and the man.
LJK - Clanger
I've been reading Car off and on for 20 years atarting in the 70s and have always appreciated his unique style and erudition. This is repeating what others have said - he will be sorely missed. RIP LJKS.
Stranger in a strange land
LJK - cheddar
, LJKS was part
of the great days of CAR.

And the early days of BIKE IIRC.
LJK - Avant
So it's true - how very sad. He would have had something scathing and effective to say about the sub-editor who couldn't transfer the correct spelling of his name to the headline. Probably a long and beautifully constructed piece about Ford quality control.

The death of him who was called by one fellow-CAR writer, after being driven by him, "Leonardo da Veloce Setright" is the end of an era in many ways. But amid all the laddishness (current CAR) and flat prose (What Car) there are still a few who, like LJKS and Phil Llewellin, can write good English and at the same time communicate their love of cars to the reader: Steve Cropley, Andrew Frankel, Gavin Green, and (love him or loathe him) Jeremy Clarkson.
LJK - Robin Reliant
LJK was a regular contributer to Bike in the 1970's, and along with Mark Williams and Royce Creasey, Long John Kickstart, as he was affectionately known took motorcycling journalism to new heights. Never afraid of offending advertisers, he helped make Bike the foremost two wheel magazine by a country mile.

Sad to hear of his passing.
LJK - Micky
Creasey and LJK, a fine combination. Creasey is still promoting the FF concept for two-wheelers:


Very little info on the internet about the demise of LJK, perhaps I posted in haste.

Mark Williams had/has an "interesting" lifestyle.

I'm sure there are some 30 year old copies of "Bilk" in the loft, some rummaging may be required.
LJK - Happy Blue!
I can honestly say I am devasted. He was a genius in the art of motoring writing and I would pore over his words in CAR from the age of eight (when I started reading the mag) until he retired from it.

I even exchanged correspondence with him and he was always helpful and obliging.

He lived in Richmond south London for the last few years of his life and was a member of local Jewish community there, where he was known for his idiosyncrasies. I think he converted to Judaism, but he was certainly the friend of the parents of a friend of mine who live in that area.

The world has lost a great man and english motoring writing has ended an era. Now that Bishop, Bulgin, Llewellyn and now LJKS have gone, there are very few people who can replace them.

I think that Gavin Green is doing OK at Car, now he has the gravitas of the ex-editor, and Mark Walton was good this month. But the golden age has died.
Espada III - well if you have a family and need a Lamborghini, what else do you drive?
LJK - Altea Ego
Well to use one of Car's regular features.....

Thats the GBU of writers gone.
LJK - Smileyman
Small paragraph confirming this in today's Telegraph - Motoring section. Not sure yet if an obituary ... too many sections in paper to read in one day.
LJK - J Bonington Jagworth
Very sorry to hear, and thanks to Micky for bringing it to our attention. LJKS not being a 'celeb', this will be ignored by most so-called news media.
LJK - Garethj
Worth a read: www.granta.com/features/2004/12/setright
LJK - J Bonington Jagworth
Thanks Gareth - a good read despite the typos (well, it is Granta). I imagine the "1924 D Francis" was really a Lea-Francis.. :-)
LJK - Happy Blue!
Just ordered the book!

I shall enjoy a good evening in, no doubt.
Espada III - well if you have a family and need a Lamborghini, what else do you drive?
LJK - Honestjohn
Steve Cropley (LJK's former colleague, then editor on 'Car') has written a fitting tribute, published in this week's 'Autocar'.

LJK - nortones2
Thanks for that reference. LJK: a man who had a way with words.
LJK - mike hannon
How sad.
I'm glad I managed to spark a thread about the great man here last year.
Maybe I'll put a little memorial plaque in my Prelude...
LJK - Happy Blue!
Excellent obit in yesterday's DT. I hope it was HJ that persuaded them to publish it. Can't imagine them doing it otherwise.

Given he shared my religion, I was hoping there would be an obit in the Jewish Chronicle, but as most drivers who read that paper just about know where the ignition switch is, I am perhaps not surpised that mention of him was lacking in this weeks edition....
Espada III - well if you have a family and need a Lamborghini, what else do you drive?
LJK - pmw
Felt the need to post here about the late, very great, LJKS.

I started reading car with the very first edition after it stopped being small car. The road test was I think Triumph 2000 v Rover 2000. And there was a Lambo 350 (?). At that time Laurence Pomeroy was the technical editor and LJKS took over after he died, appointed by editor Doug Blain I seem to recall.

I learnt everything I ever knew about bmep and styrene butadiene by reading LJKS articles.

Would be interesting to hear DB's views.

Here's a recent piece of classic Setrightism:-

LJK - Stuartli
>>Here's a recent piece of classic Setrightism>>

Spot on...:-)

But why does virtually every story in this particular newspaper's website have the first paragraph doubled up?

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LJK - hagler
i read lots of his articles and he was brilliant.........met his daughter hillary when she was staying in a vicarage in ovingham northumberland roughly around 1982....great girl...many a deep conversation.....my heart goes out to you hilary.mark
My first introduction to his writing was a very eloquent, beautifully argued attack on the suspension anti-roll bar, of all things. His comprehension of engineering principles was plain for all to see, yet his work was not only readable to the layman, but also interesting. After that, I actively sought out his articles and road tests, and enjoyed them all.

Setright's opinions were often unconventional and challenged accepted wisdoms, yet so coherent, persuasive and beautifully reasoned were his arguments, that it wasn't hard to imagine the influence he could wield, or the dismay with which certain manufacturers could react to his disapproval of their work. The anti-roll bar article was a classic example. This device is fitted to almost every car on sale, yet after reading Setright's article, I found myself wondering where we would be without it, and whether things would actually be better.

My other long standing memory of Setright is his participation in a big hot hatch group test in CAR in the late 80's. He dismissed the mk2 Golf GTI, a car which almost all his fellow journalists had rated top of the group as "a dimbulb" and "a denial of all that used to be so long ago". He then went on to explain beautifully how the car was technically brilliant, but felt too heavy and lacked any sense of fun. It might not sound much, but when you consider the reviews this car got across the board at the time, it illustrated perfectly how Setright didn't let the opinion of others influence his own views, and how unafraid he was to challenge widely held views.

I had no idea that he had died. What a loss.


LJK - mike hannon
When browsing old copies of Motor Sport a while ago - something I do in the long winter evenings - I came across a letter to the editor from LJKS written in about 1954 or 1955, when he, apparently, was a regular competitor in Vintage Sports Car Club events.
It was hilarious and contained many elements of the style that made him famous much later.
Let's not stop talking about him!
LJK - Lud
LJK Setright liked V8 Bristols as well as 2-litre ones, but he knew which were the most beautiful even though the ability of the V8s, in those days of affordable juice, was irresistible. He couldn't resist boasting about some of his crosscountry times, which most drivers would not have dreamed of trying to match (72mph average on old A-roads over 150 miles, for example, in a 2-litre Bristol I seem to remember).

He had a 2-litre Bristol tuned to put out 140BHP and whose crankshaft, he wrote with some pride, had been polished all over while being balanced, by a former owner. I believe the point of such polishing would have been to strenthen the crankshaft by eliminating roughnesses where cracks might start, rather than to make it rotate faster by reducing drag...
LJK - s61sw
Thought I'd add my two penn'worth...I first picked up Car magazine in the late seventies and remember being intrigued by this eccentric looking bloke who seemed to write (to my 14 year old mind) articles that were 'dead hard' to understand. Thankfully, some education put me on the right track to enlightenment, and I enjoyed reading his erudite columns and articles in Car until he retired. I also remember George Bishop, who did his best to not to write about cars in his monthly column. Both of course now sadly gone. I still buy Car to this day (just about a complete set from 1983 to the present in the attic), but I don't think the current crop of contributors have the same style or depth as their predecessors - Phil Llwellyn had me blubbing like a baby after reading about his trip around the Northern France WW1 cemetaries in 1986.
Yours nostalgicaly, S6 1SW
LJK - stevied
I completely agree with S61sw (I am presuming that's a postcode?!).

I am sick of hearing "well people don't write like that any more because of the mass appeal needed" etc. etc.

Nonsense. Like my postcoded chum above, I was a VERY young convert to Car magazine. It was the fact that the beautifully written articles explained things to me (both motoring and non-motoring related!) that captured my interest. If I did happen upon one of LJKS's more off-beat articles, then they inspired me to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. It's like having a "Dead Poet's Society" style teacher to inspire and entertain as well as inform. This lowest common demoninator argument just doesn't hold any water.

Hopefully, this laddish phase will pass, and we can leave the spotty 17 year olds to the cheap thrills of Max Yob magazine. I am all against snobbery, by the way, but all for education and enthusiasm about a subject. I disagreed heartily with LJK and many others a lot of the time, but at the same time admired their capacity to argue.... the fantastic early 1970s debate about road safety where LJKS seemed to be going down the road of road deaths being a form of population control springs to mind! Ian Breach was one of the other contributors.

LJK - mike hannon
Nice to hear George Bishop isn't forgotten either. He was the editor of a respected motor magazine who used a stone behind the wheel of his old Citroen CX when the handbrake was beyond redemption. Can't see that ever happening again.
And it was due to him that the rest of us found out just how the 'muttering rotters' were wined and dined by the manufacturers- they really were!
I wonder if it's the same now or whether hospitality has been dumbed down in line with the talent and the magazine content. Presumably the editor of Max Revs or whatever it is will only expect burger and fries anyway.
LJK - Pugugly {P}
"Phil Llwellyn had me blubbing like a baby after reading about his trip around the Northern France WW1 cemetaries in 1986"

You sound like a chap(ess) after my own heart. PL's article deeply moved me as well, I can feel the gooseflesh even now. CAR led me to my love of Beemers for what they are rather than the badge. I owe them a lot for the motoring pleasures I've derived over the last 30 years......

A drive two summers ago along rural roads at 3.00am at highly illegal speeds and wondering how this car was actually catching up with me and then overtaking me, two of BMW's best competing on the open road - brilliant brilliant brilliant........ (the other was an M5) How Car would have approved of that - how Setright would be spinning in his grave t the thought of high performance diesel........
LJK - Xileno {P}
Was he the man with the long beard?
LJK - Pugugly {P}
Yes with a soft voice and skullcap.
LJK - henry k
Yes with a soft voice and skullcap.

The only pic I could find
LJK - Pugugly {P}
Thanks.....that sums him up.
LJK - henry k
Thanks.....that sums him up.

I certainly miss reading his pieces.

Plus another item.

"Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy
This award made by Lord Montagu, is given to the Guild member adjudged to have made the greatest contribution to recording the history of motoring or motorcycling. The work can be an article, a book, a TV radio or film script, or a research document available to the public.
1999 winner: Mike Lawrence and Leonard Setright "


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