It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Nick Georgano, one of the most influential motoring historians of this or any other era. He authored or edited an astonishing array of books, over 60 titles published in the UK and the USA apart from many translations, ranging from modest Shire volumes to The Complete Encyclopaedia of Motorcars first published in 1968 and its ultimate successor The Beaulieu Encyclopaedia of the Automobile. Nick allegedly attempted his first motoring encyclopaedia, a list of trucks, at the age of 7. His first published title was the update of Doyle’s The World’s Automobiles in about 1958. After graduation from Oxford in 1956, Nick for a while followed the teaching profession, but from 1976 to 1981 he was librarian at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
In 1969, Nick was a founder member (number 32) of the Society of Automotive Historians in the USA, and on 16 February 1980 he was one of the founders and first secretary of the UK chapter which became the SAHB. We were proud to recognise him as honorary member of SAHB. He served for many years as a trustee of the Michael Sedgwick Memorial Trust and was a member of the advisory council of the National Motor Museum. He was some time a member of the VCC dating committee. He twice won the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Montagu award, for The Complete Encyclopaedia of Motorcars, and in 1995 for Britain’s Motor Industry The First Hundred Years (of which Nick Baldwin, Jonathan Wood and Anders Clausager were privileged to be his co-authors). He was the first winner of the SAH Cugnot award in 1972 with A History of Sports Cars and won it twice again, in 1980 for The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles, and in 1993 for The American Automobile – A Centenary 1893-1993. In 2001, The Beaulieu Encyclopaedia got a Cugnot award of distinction. Nick received many other honours and awards.
Nick’s massive contribution to motoring history is summed up very simply by the fact that his Magnum Opus, the two-volume work The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile, is never referred to by its title: it is and always will be known by true enthusiasts as “Georgano”.
Nick was a courteous and charming man, rather private and perhaps somewhat retiring, but he could display a sly sense of humour. The depth and breadth of his knowledge of automotive history was astounding, and he was enormously respected by his professional colleagues. He was always ready with help and advice. The messages that have already been coming in from those who knew him all show the pleasure they had in working with him and their sadness at his passing. He will be much missed by all of us in the SAHB, and by his many other friends and colleagues. We honour his memory, and extend our deepest sympathy to his family.
Picture courtesy of John Fox – Alvis Archive Trust