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Motoring journalist killed in road collision at 75

A former weekly newspaper editor who became a motoring journalist was killed in a road collision on his return home from a car launch event in Spain at the age of 75.

John Connor, left, was a former editor of the Solihull News who went on to become a freelance journalist, specialising in pre-launch test drives for various UK titles, including a number of Trinity Mirror newspapers.

He was a member of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers, where he was the membership secretary, and had previously worked as an editor for a motoring industry newspaper and magazine. He was also a member of the Society of Editors.

Before becoming a journalist, John worked for many years in the press office of vehicle manufacturing company British Leyland.

John, who lived near Solihull, died in a motorway accident last Thursday after his car was crushed between two lorries on the slip road off the M4 towards the M25.

He was at the wheel of his own car, having just collected it from a hotel car park, and was minutes into his journey home when the tragedy struck.

A tribute has been paid to him by Ian Donaldson, chairman of the MGMW, who had driven with John at the Nissan press launch in Madrid.

He said: “He had been full of laughter, talking with joy about the Christmas he spent with his grandchildren. His passing is an enormous shock.”

Tributes have also been paid by fellow motoring journalists on Twitter, with Tim Barnes-Clay describing him as a “kind man and great motoring journalist”.

And Phil Huff tweeted: “Devastated to hear of the death of John Connor, one of motoring’s nicest people. Was an honour to share cars with him.

“John was so supportive of me from day one. Gutted I’ll not get the chance to repay that belief.”

John’s wife Veronica died last year and he is survived by their two children, Michael and Clair.

His funeral details have not yet been announced.

12 comments

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  • January 21, 2014 at 7:24 am
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    One of the greats of regional newspapers. He wasn’t just a motoring journalist, he’d also served as a remarkably good editor on the Solihull News.

    He handed me four sides of A4 with written instructions on how to run the paper when I took over from him in 1998. It genuinely included details of what each member of staff liked to drink when he took them to the pub at lunchtime.

    A splendid fellow who will be sadly missed.

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  • January 21, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    Gutted to read this. Worked with John in the past and he was always one of my favourite colleagues. A lovely lovely man who I always remembered with respect and affection. A great loss to us all

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  • January 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm
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    Really sorry to hear this terrible news. Worked with John for a couple of years as a young editor and learnt an enormous amount from him. Huge experience, wisdom and knowledge combined with patience and good humour. Very sad.

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  • January 21, 2014 at 3:37 pm
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    A tremendous guy and very good NUJ member. Sound principles and always looked after his colleagues.

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  • January 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm
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    Shocking news. John was a cheerful and lively colleague when we worked together at the Birmingham Post. He loved cars, rugby and good conversation. He would tell hilarious tales about his life as a solider in the Royal Tank Regiment. A terrific bloke.

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  • January 22, 2014 at 8:43 am
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    A true gent, a real professional and one of the good guys. I will miss him terribly.

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  • January 22, 2014 at 11:23 am
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    John was such a smashing guy – a really ‘good old boy’ and one of the very best I’ve known. He will be sorely missed by many.
    Didn’t know he’d been a press officer for British Leyland, though… obviously his sparkling wit and sense of humour were key requirements for THAT job!
    Rest in peace mate.

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  • January 22, 2014 at 11:55 am
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    ‘Only the good die young’. But not in this case; John was a man full of life who exuded a genuine warm. I will always remember him for his support within the competitive world of motoring journalism – and for encouraging me to join the Midland Group of Motoring Writers. We’ll miss you John – it was a pleasure to have known you.

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  • January 22, 2014 at 7:19 pm
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    Spent the evening with him in Madrid the night before the accident. He was his usual jolly, entertaing self and as happy as Larry. He was always friendly friendly, smiley and a thoroughly nice bloke. Knew a thing or two about classic cars too. What a tragedy.

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  • January 22, 2014 at 8:13 pm
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    Terrible news – subbed many a motoring piece from him in years gone by.

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  • January 28, 2014 at 11:04 am
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    My first editor – what a great bloke. Liked to work hard and play hard and I’ll never forget the laughs we had, particularly up on the ‘stone’ on a Thursday afternoon. Offered loads of good advice, which has proved invaluable over the years. He will be missed!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 8:42 am
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    Shocked – my first boss when I came to Birmingham back in the early 80’s at ABC Weekly Advertiser. A kind, genuine man who became a friend. Don’t think he ever forgave me for bleaching his cup ‘you’ve ruined my tea’ – sorry John!

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