Godfather of Auto Writers, David E. Davis Jr. Passes. R.I.P.
by, 03-28-2011 at 11:09 AM (5549 Views)
One of automotive journalism's greatest passed over the weekend of complications from cancer surgery. We learned David E. Davis Jr. died at the age of 80 and were truly saddened by the news.
Some might say it's Brock, but I'd wager David E. Davis is the godfather of automotive journalism. You see, David E. was there in the beginning... or what many see as both the beginning and the penultimate... Car & Driver in the late 70s and early 80s. Mike Spinelli once told me that before launching Jalopnik he holed up in his NY apartment with C&Ds from the era and boned up. We largely did the same when we launched Motive Magazine here at Vortex Media Group... also doing so through the hire and subsequent editorial leadership of David E. protege Eddie Alterman. The more I talk to auto writers, the more I learn Mike Spinelli and our staff here at VMG aren't alone.
In the 80s David E. left the established Car & Driver and started his own book, Automobile Magazine, and reinvented the concept of the car magazine all over again. David E. was involved in the creation of the online only Winding Road Magazine and more recently took on a column position back at Car & Driver when the aforementioned Eddie Alterman took charge there.
David E. was one of the greats and many who he taught have joined those ranks no doubt in part from his guidance. He left a wake miles long and while I never knew him I, like most of us, knew very well of him by his work. He will be missed.
I doubt I could say it as eloquently as those he directly inspired so below are four pertinent links to stories about him.
First is a blog post from Sunday, the day he died, by Eddie Alterman over at Car & Driver.
Read it here. Car & Driver.
The second is by Jalopnik's Mike Spinelli. I view Spin and his creation of Jalopnik, his move to run 0-60, his return to Jalopnik and his future that likely includes great things in the automotive space to be well worthy of a eulogy and when I read his piece on Jalopnik I wasn't disappointed. Read it here. Jalopnik.
The third is the a blog post by Joe DeMatio on Automobile, the magazine that likely could lay claim to the highest count of David E.'s blood, sweat and tears. Read it here. Automobile Magazine.
The last is a rather long story run just this month in Automobile Magazine and is now viewable on their website. The story is by Jean Jennings, another protege of Davis who left Car & Driver with him and was instrumental in his building of Automobile. Jennings later took over Automobile in a process that didn't exactly please Davis and in a way that alienated the two old friends. As part of that magazine's anniversary celebration, Jennings penned the piece, telling the story of the magazine that inevitably centers around David E. It's long, it's in-depth and it's worth the read.
Finally, we'll close out our nod to David E. and his long and storied life with this video link below. We featured this video on our Audi News Blog back when it was new but it's worth a second visit as, fittingly, this is a review of the B7 Audi RS 4. The piece is in David E's own voice, talking a bit about the Audi, a bit about cancer and a lot about the automotive passion and lifestyle. Davis did the piece when he was at Winding Road and through its newfangled internet-based multi-media and arguably at a time when both of his previous employers (Car & Driver and Automobile) were still figuring out just how to handle moving (seriously) to the web.
At the time both C&D and Automobile placed more emphasis on the printed page and the ad revenue attached while David E's idea of a senior moment was to jump ship to the internet and flog the RS 4 on the route of the California Mille with a camera crew chasing him in an S4 Cabriolet. C&D and Automobile have gotten a lot more effective and serious on the web, becoming leaders in their own right and... not surprisingly... following Davis' leadership to the end.
We tip our hat to David E. The hat's not as cool as Davis', but it shows our sorrow and it shows our respect.