It Was The Best Of Times


On the tenth anniversary of Automobile Magazine, I was moved to reprint a page of my favorite memos from the founder of this magazine, David E. Davis, Jr. It was a tiny window into the daily cataclysm of life with the most interesting, most difficult, cleverest, darkest, most erudite, dandiest, most inspirational, charismatic, and all-around damnedest human being I will ever meet. I have loved him. I have seriously not loved him. But this isn't an obituary, so we don't have to get into any weepy crap here.

The magazine you are reading would not exist without him. I mean that in the most present of tenses. Only David E. could have started "a high-style magazine for high-profile car enthusiasts" in 1986 that not only succeeded, but changed the face of car magazines in America forever. Twenty-five years later-although he has been gone since 2000, a situation that was not part of his grand plan (I'll get to the flying grand piano later) -- his stamp remains indelible. The travel, the adventure, the exotic comparison tests, the staff road trips, the importance of car design, and the quality of the writing and art are the bedrock of every issue. His will be done.

When David E. asked me to leave Car and Driver with him to be the executive editor, I figured that if this effort failed, I was only thirty-one and could always drive a cab again. The idea of returning to the mean streets of Ann Arbor perhaps ensured my laserlike focus on making the dream reality. He was fifty-four years old.

We did not fail.

David E. would tell you that it was the magazine of his dreams. And, of course, it was. All his. I had no dreams whatsoever -- I was only five years removed from being a mechanic, for God's sake. And what was he thinking, dragging me with him? Never mind. I was very happy to follow a man with a plan, especially with a plan as big as his and which included an unbelievable role at the top for a girl with a permanently interrupted college education.

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geo2spitfire AMEN.
Nice fluff job Jean. Anyone in the know undrstands that you stabbed Mr. Davis in the back. For some reason he trusted you and I for one don't understand why. I sure know you have taken a first class magazine and run it into the ground. Mr Davis had far more class that you will ever have.
Been reading DED since the mid-'60s and like many others, have been taking this kinda hard. I understand mortality and all that but dammit, DED should always just BE there for us as he has always been. God bless you, David, and thanks for the miles and the memories.
Reading your articles on Automobiles past 25 years caused me to get out some of my old issues starting with my first one from May of 1986.Automobile magazine has been one of the major influences on purchasing my cars since the first time of me discovering your magazine.Even though I personally didn't know Mr. Davis, reading of his passing saddened me especially after reading the excellent article that Mrs. Jennings wrote of past writers and of Mr. Davis.Keep up the excellent work
@F150SVT Amen.
David E. cast a giant shadow across the automotive industry and will be greatly missed by his thousands of fans. Having followed him since a young teenager, starting from his first C&D stent in '62, I count myself as one of the milling throngs of readers who waited each month for our addicted dose of DED'isms. I know from talking to friends who worked with him that life could be trying under his reign, but he lit in me a burning love affair with cars that has endured for fifty years.
Funny, he didn't seem to be chortling that evening, or likely any evening after he was dispatched from the Editor's chair. Scrolling-up a few inches on the screen, you will find that you offered-up the circumstances of DED's departure (not to mention, the piano), and on David's behalf, I introduced the notion that all wasn't as you had reported it. Since when is setting the record straight considered 'public amusement'? Bob 'Mr. Anonymous' Weber
David E always loved a good personal dustup. He should be chortling right now from the other side about the dueling obituaries. Who wrote the best one? That would be Joe DeMatio on this website. And he had a great ten years rewriting his final days at this magazine. Only he and I and the "suits" know what happened. Not you, Mr. Anonymous. And it's not for public amusement.
Jean:I never heard the story of where it all went wrong with David and Automobile. I do know that he wasn't prepared to cede the Editor's desk of the magazine he founded at the behest of John Evans and funded by Rupert. Why would he?I dined with David one evening in Torrance at the Depot restaurant. We were entertaining a few folks from Toyota during the launch of Winding Road. At one point, inevitably, the subject of Automobile arose, given that David was about to birth another magazine in the twilight of his career (and you gasp about starting one at 57?!). The story he told that evening left each of us with mouths agape. Having worked with David for 9 years at Automobile, and remained a dear friend in the ensuing years, the story never emerged until that night. I'll spare your readers the details, as no purpose would be served now, but he did not leave on his own accord. The very empty Primedia suits in NY operated complicitly with his successor.
What a great history of Automobile Magazine. I have been with you all the way and still like Vile Gossip. Thanks Jean.

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