Sir Stirling Moss, who has died aged 90, was Guy’s favourite driver and the one he photographed more than any other. Guy knew the Moss family well and photographed Stirling from the beginning of his career, which coincided with Guy’s start in motor racing photography and journalism and the revival of British motor racing after the war.
When Guy was asked in 1991 to pick his favourite driver, he answered unhesitatingly, “Stirling Moss, without a shadow of a doubt. Many people would choose Fangio, but he was mainly a Grand Prix driver. Stirling had this extraordinary ability to get into any car and drive it better than anyone else. He had a marvellous spirit and would never give up in a race, even if he was far behind; he said he owed it to the public who had come to see him.”
When Moss was asked about Guy, he returned the compliment, describing him as “the outstanding motoring photographer of his day”.
Guy had been friends with Stirling’s parents Alfred and Aileen since the 1930’s, when both families had lived in Thames Ditton and had a lot to do with each other, being involved in the small world of UK motor cars and racing, as Guy explained in his autobiography:
“Alfred Moss’s wife Aileen had been running a white Marendaz special in trials for some time and, as they lived nearby in Thames Ditton, they asked us to do some work on it. Like all Marendazes it was ropey, but we supercharged it and made it a quick competitive trials car. We became friendly with the family and Aileen often brought her two children round with her when she came to see progress, she ran a 2 litre B.M.W. saloon.
The Marendaz factory was in the old jam factory at Maidenhead, previously it had been on the floor above the Bugatti works at Brixton Road. It emerged, as we knew the Moss family better that Alfred had more or less been financing Marendaz since the move, though Alfred did not normally run one, the firm was finally wound up in July 1936. “
After the Marendaz company went out of business Alfred asked Guy to help him reclaim some of his investment in a rather unorthodox way: “Alfred Moss asked us to go over to the factory and collect all the goods that were his property. Moss, Louis*, Juliette** and I went with our trailer and removed the ex Eldridge Miller which had been a French G.P. car and I think another finished car***.”
*Louis Giron, motor trader and first husband of **Guy’s wife Juliette
***according to Philip Porter in his “The Definitive Biography” this was a 1935 TT 15/90 and a Sunday was chosen as the best day to “liberate” these cars, when presumably things would be quieter!
Guy photographed Stirling from the beginning of his career in 1947, here he is shortly before his 18th birthday, driving in only his fourth event, the Brighton Speed Trials:
Like Stirling Moss, Guy was close friends with John “Autocar” Cooper (the editor of the magazine) and both were devastated when he died in March 1955, aged only 38 – at the time, the Moss family were concerned that Guy may have been in the same accident as Guy explained in his autobiography:
“Whenever John had an interesting road car for the Autocar to test, he used to pick me up from my home at Thames Ditton and we would go to Cambridge and have lunch with Pat Stevenson who worked for Cambridge instruments. This gave us a chance to let it out over the almost deserted Newmarket flats.
When he was killed in a Frazer Nash going to see Pat I should have been with him, but I was in ill in bed. As soon as the news was known Aileen Moss, Stirling’s mother, rang Juliette, thinking I had possibly been killed too. She started a very cautious conversation and when Juliette seemed quite normal asked if I had been with John. When she heard I was in bed at the time her relief was obvious. This shows the kindness of Aileen and Alfred Moss. Aileen told Juliette how sad Stirling was.”
Another great friend in common was Denis “Jenks” Jenkinson, the motor racing journalist and Stirling’s navigator in three Mille Miglias, including their legendary win in 1955 in the Mercedes-Benz 300SLR. Guy and Jenks had met during World War 2 when they were both working on engineering tasks for the government.
When Jenks helped Guy put together his life story, he revealed another side to Stirling Moss outside of motor racing; talking about Guy’s clothes shop, Axfords:
Then there were visits to the second-hand shop in Victoria, where it always seemed to be dark and raining! I never bought an old suitcase or any second-hand clothes, always got mine free from friends who were always trying to keep up with fashions! Stirling was a great source of shoes and riotous socks…
Since Guy died we have collaborated with Sir Stirling Moss and various authors on books about his racing career, here are three of them: