By STEVEN COLE SMITH on 3/27/2011
David E. Davis, Jr., inarguably one of the deans of automotive journalism, died Sunday, March 27, at age 80. Davis had been suffering from bladder cancer and had undergone surgery a few days earlier. Even so, his passing was unexpected–he appeared to be in comparatively good health and reasonably good spirits at the Amelia Island Concours in Florida just two weeks earlier.
Davis was the founder of Automobile magazine, which just celebrated his 25th anniversary, and prior to that he was the editor of Car and Driver. He had returned to the pages of Car and Driver in the summer of 2009 to write a monthly column for the magazine’s editor, Eddie Alterman, a graduate of Automobile magazine.
“He was a man of enormous talent and presence, genteel most often, and scythe-like when he had to be,” said AutoWeek associate publisher and editorial director Dutch Mandel, whose late father and predecessor at AutoWeek, Leon, was one of the few in the business who could go toe-to-toe with Davis in both talent and occasional irascibility. “My father had great respect for David, and still had the distinction of firing him from Car and Driver. David taught multiple generations what great automotive journalism looked like.”