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Charles Bulmer (1922-2012)

Charles Bulmer, former editor of The Motor magazine, has died aged 89.

Charles Bulmer (right) reunited with RW 77 and J Anstice Brown in 2001

Charles Bulmer (right) reunited with RW 77 and J Anstice Brown in 2001

Bulmer, who died aged 89 in February, was one of the old school of motoring journalists who, with the post war rise of new titles, found themselves sucked into a new profession they had previously considered a hobby.  
An engineering graduate like many of his ilk, Charles Bulmer joined the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

He bought his first car, A Frazer Nash TT Replica, from a certain Denis Jenkinson and soon found himself contributing (for no pay) to Motorsport. His writing became known and eventually, The Motor tempted into fulltime journalism. One of his early road tests was that of E-type Jaguar: The Motor won the race to get its hands on a press car first and in the urgent quest to see whether it really would top 150mph, Bulmer and John Anstice Brown famously took RW 77 to Italy where they managed 150.1mph in one direction just before the E-type’s water temperature disappeared off the scale with oil pressure vanishing equally fast and they feared the engine would blow.

Then the master cylinder failed and the pair returned cautiously to Calais with only the handbrake and the gearbox to slow the car. Later as Motor’s editor, Bulmer tested a pre-production Morris Marina, BL’s dismal attempt to match the highly successful Cortina. Alarmed to find it understeered all too easily into on coming traffic, he and Jeff Daniels of Autocar whose findings were similar, went to BL’s Harry Webster to make clear that if the Marina was launched with this fault, their forthcoming road tests would carry a warning. 

In 1973, Bulmer joined BL and saw first hand the disastrous implosion of the British car industry. The right people were all there, he said later, especially the engineers, but they were all in the wrong jobs. And he felt the autocratic Issigonis had too much power which was fine when he was right, but not when he was wrong.

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