David E. Davis, Jr. 1930-2011

David E. Davis, Jr.

David E. Davis, Jr., the founder of modern automotive journalism, is dead. He was 80.

Regular readers of TireKicker know how much I admired David. One of my life's regrets will be that we never met.  There's a lot to say about David and I think it's said best by Car and Driver's Eddie Alterman. Please click here.


A few hours later, and there are more things about David E. I think are worth reading.  Autoweek's Steven Cole Smith does a good warts-and-all look at Davis, including a reference to a video you can watch here on TireKicker, where David told of the dream he had involving once-protege' Jean Jennings and a piano falling from a passing jet.

There's Jean Jennings herself, who wrote what at the time wasn't an obit for the just-out 25th anniversary issue of Automobile about her career with and after DED, Jr...and her side of the shift in power at that magazine that led to David's piano dream.

And there's Peter DeLorenzo in a two-days early update of Autoextremist, who paints the bigger picture and makes it starkly clear that, despite the talents of Eddie Alterman and many others, with the passing of David E., the days of the American car magazine as we know it are numbered and the digits are few.

Finally, let's remember the man through his own work and words. His defining moment...the 1968 review of the BMW 2002, which changed automotive journalism from analytics to advocacy and in which David threw down the gauntlet, demanding to know why America couldn't build a sedan like this (he was only a decade ahead of the hipsters and two ahead of the rest of the car-buying public).

And, from 15 years later, the marvelous lunacy that happened on his watch (complete with sidebar by DED, Jr. himself)...as most of his writing staff take 8 loaned press vehicles south of the border for sun, fun, dysentery, public urination, bribery, floods and one dead cow. It took 26 years for Top Gear and its Defense Department-sized budget to finally topple this as my favorite piece of automotive journalism.

It was one hell of a ride. Thanks, David. Rest well.

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