L. Scott Bailey, founding publisher of AQ, dies

Scott Bailey, automotive historian and founder and publisher of Automobile Quarterly magazine, died at his home in the English Cotswolds where he lived since the late 1980s with his wife Peggy.

Scott Bailey and his wife Peg founded the journal Automobile Quarterly in New York in the spring of 1962.  The hard cover magazine, with a horizontal format and no advertising, approached automobile history from a scholarly perspective, featuring exhaustively researched stories on individual marques, both prominent and obscure, motorsports, design, technology and — most important — the influential personalities that shaped the automobile’s evolution.  AQ also featured critical commentary on contemporary automotive topics, and informed speculation on future automotive trends.  Writers included Ken Purdy, Karl Ludvigsen, Michael Lamm, and Griff Borgeson, whose stories were complemented by large-format photography and illustrations by noted automotive artists such as Bill Neale, James Allington, Yoshihiro Inomoto, David Kimble, Walter Gotschke and Peter Helck; other contributors were prominent automotive personalities Enzo Ferrari, designer Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin, and John Fitch.  AQ was reviewed in the New York Times as “the world’s most lavish magazine.”

In the early 1960s Scott commissioned Italian coachbuilder Nuccio Bertone to create an interpretation of the newly launched Ford Mustang in order to demonstrate that the storied Turin-based coachbuilders could execute relevant contemporary designs.  The stunning result of this collaboration was exhibited at the 1965 New York International Automobile Show where the Bertone Mustang won ‘best of show’ honors.

Automobile Quarterly was the first automotive publication to place a female editor, Beverly Rae Kimes, at the top of its masthead.  In addition to her contributions, Kimes and other AQ authors supported Bailey’s expansion into books on automotive history, which eventually included over fifty books.  AQ‘s detailed histories on such marques included Ford, Chevrolet, Porsche, Buick, Cadillac, Packard, Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg, Corvette, including a pair of highly authoritative Corvette Restoration Guides.  As a demonstration of AQ‘s comprehensive automotive research and archives, General Motors commissioned AQ to compile its corporate history on the occasion of GM’s 75th anniversary.

Throughout Scott Bailey’s tenure, AQ documented not just the evolution of the automobile but also elevated automotive history to an unsurpassed level of scholarship.  Through a combination of authoritative texts, detailed archival documentation, rich photography and lavish artwork, he created a collection of periodicals and books that continue to be highly sought after by automotive enthusiasts and collectors.  In 1986 Scott and Peggy sold AQ to Columbia Broadcast System Publications.

Though the driving force behind the enterprise and its prodigious output, Scott seldom let his name surface on book jackets or author lists:  he saw himself as one whose job was to get the best out of all around him.  He promoted an AQ ethos of doing the job one way — without error — with style and great craftsmanship.  The AQ impact and ethos that marked Scott’s tenure as founding editor and publisher have seldom been matched in automotive publishing.  AQ‘s output won numerous awards for design, editing and writing. Recognitions for Bailey’s own work included: Thompson Products Museum Trophy and National AACA Award for outstanding restoration of a historic vehicle; Automotive Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Service Citation; Society of Automotive Historians Friends of the Automotive History Award; the Annual Award of the Society of Automotive Historians; and the Thomas McKean Award for historical research.

Scott Bailey was born   in New York City and spent his childhood in and around Middletown, Ohio. He was an Eagle Scout, and joined the US Naval Reserve in 1941. In the Second World War, Scott served on PT boats, an aircraft carrier and submarines; he saw duty on ammunition convoys in the North Atlantic and in the Pacific, and he was awarded the Submarine Service Commendation Medal.

Scott attended Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon and Phi Alpha Delta, and studied at the Chase School of Law in Cincinnati. At Miami he met Peggy, his life companion and partner in love and business throughout every moment  of the next seven decades. They married in 1947 during one of the century’s worst blizzards and settled in upstate New York where Scott dedicated himself to giving back to the Boy Scouts of America, serving as an executive for BSA and with Peggy, running a Scout camp at Lake Seneca. The BSA awarded him their Distinguished Service Medal in 1964.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Scott was Public Relations Counsel for Eastern Railroad Presidents Conference for Carl Byoir and Associates, and later with the American Rocket Society.  At that time his interest in antique cars grew, and he became Executive Vice President, and Director of Public Relations for the Antique Automobile Club of America and editor  of The Antique Automobile Magazine.  In 1958 he was a recipient of the Silver Anvil Award of the Public Relations Association for his performance in the field of transportation, especially for his work supporting railroads as they were challenged by highway development.

The next 25 years were focused on the creation and development of Automobile Quarterly. After the sale of AQ to CBS in 1986, Scott and Peggy settled in England, in the Cotswold Hills. At home in the village of Stanton and then in nearby Wood Stanway, Scott published two poetry books and worked to improve his skill as a painter of portraits.

Scott Bailey was an editor, painter, Scout, poet, sailor, publisher, mentor and true romantic. He was proudest of the opportunities he found to help young people, often reflecting on the help and encouragement he received in his youth.

Scott Bailey is survived by his wife Peggy, his daughter Meg and son Douglass, and two grandchildren, Alexander and Hannah. He will be missed by the many he helped and supported.

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