Carlton C. Massey, 74, the courtly, pipe-smoking county executive of Fairfax County from 1952 to 1971, died Friday in an automobile accident in Palm Dale, Fla.

A spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol said Mr. Massey had pulled away from a stop sign and was westbound when he collided with a truck traveling south through the intersection. Mr. Massey was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The driver of the truck was said to have suffered minor injuries. Authorities said the accident was still under investigation.

Mr. Massey was the first county executive in Fairfax history. He took office in March 1952 when the county switched from the old executive secretary to the county executive form of government.

During his 19 years as county executive, Mr. Massey faced the problems of a county that grew from 131,000 to 469,000 people. One of his first budgets totaled $10 million for the entire county. His last called for $112 million in school expenditures alone.

While meeting the problems of rapid growth and residential development and the attendant need for more schools, police, parks, and county services, Mr. Massey gained a reputation as a man who could do his job and also maintain good relations with the county Board of Supervisors.

Observers of the county remember his tenure as one that generally was free of controversy and criticism. Toward the end of his service, some frictions began to emerge as the supervisors began to question the wisdom of such rapid growth.

Mr. Massey accepted criticism with good grace. He welcomed the hiring of George J. Kelly Jr. as deputy county executive in the late 1960s, a move many thought would help streamline county operations and bring about tighter management controls.

The supervisors accepted Mr. Massey's resignation as county executive "with regrets" in March 1971. It named its new skyscraper government building, then only 18 months old, in his honor. Supervisor Donald R. Bowman said at the time that Mr. Massey was a person who reminded him of the building -- "towering above others." Mr. Massey also was named "county executive emeritus" by the board.

Mr. Massey was a native of Post Oak, a crossroads in Spotsylvania County, Va. He was a 1928 honors graduate of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.

He began his career in local government as city engineer for Fredericksburg. In 1938, he was named town manager of Salem, Va., then served as Henrico County Manager from 1943 to 1952. Henrico is the county that surrounds Richmond.

Mr. Massey was a member of Sharon Episcopal Church in Alexandria and was a longtime member of the Rotary Club. He was a member of the board of directors of The Social Center, an organization in Northern Virginia that works with people suffering from emotional problems.

He lived in Fairfax County from 1952 until moving to Cape Coral,Fla., in September 1980.

His first wife, Margaret Cunningham Massey, died in 1976. His second wife, Beatrice M. Massey, died in December 1980.

Mr. Massey's survivors include two daughters, Mary Carlton Massey of Arlington, and Anne M. Mielke of Mechanicsburg, Pa.; his mother, Mattie Biscoe Massey of Post Oak; two sisters, Marguerite Morton and Evelyn Coleman, both of Spotsylvania; a brother, J. Stuart Massey of Wytheville, va., and two grandchildren.