A BUSINESSMAN who worked in the Hampshire motor industry for decades has died in a car blaze.

Graham Lowe’s body was found in the burned-out wreckage of a BMW 4X4, parked near his home in Windmill Lane, Bursledon.

Police say they are not treating the death as suspicious.

The 57-year-old – known to his family and friends as “Ralphy” – is understood to have driven his partner to work before returning home on Tuesday morning.

A short time later, crews from Hamble and Hightown fire stations were called to a car fire outside Mr Lowe’s home.

A total of 13 firefighters battled to stop the blaze spreading to the nearby house and another car.

It was not until the blaze was under control that they realised there was somebody in the car.

A post-mortem examination is now being carried out.

Mr Lowe’s family has released a statement through Hampshire police paying tribute to the father-of-two.

It says: “Graham, who was also known to family and friends as Ralphy, will be deeply missed by everyone.

“He was a popular and friendly person who could always put a smile on someone’s face.

“Graham was the life and soul of the party and will forever be in our hearts.

“There are no words to describe the devastating and unexpected news and the family and friends of Graham would like people to respect their privacy at this sad time.”

Mr Lowe had been director at used car dealership Cars of Swanwick Ltd, in Bridge Road, Park Gate for around 30 years.

It is understood he previously ran a small car sales business at New Park Garage in Park Gate.

Dave Tyler, who runs nearby Quay Motors in Station Road, said Mr Lowe was well-known in the industry.

He said: “I have known him for years and years and years.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked.

“He was just a lovely guy – nothing was ever too much trouble for him.

“He never had a bad word to say about anybody.

“I spoke to him a couple of days ago. I’m completely shocked about what’s happened.”

Winchester Coroner’s Court says it has been informed about the death and will be opening an inquest in the next few days.