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A Eulogy for David E.

Remembrances in advance of David E. Davis’s memorial.

by on Apr.25, 2011

The "dean of automotive journalism," David E. Davis died during cancer surgery at 80.

A memorial service for David E. Davis, who passed away on March 27, will be held later this week — more details at the end of this remembrance by Contributing Editor Mike Davis (no relation).

Since the passing many years ago of “Uncle” Tom McCahill, of Mechanix Illustrated fame, there has been no automotive writer better known than the inimitable David E. Davis, Jr., late of Campbell-Ewald’s Chevrolet advertising copywriting, Car and Driver, Automobile and finally of his own corpus.

I was one of the legion of David E.’s followers and admirers, and my only claim to fame is that my acquaintance with him probably goes, er, went back further than anyone else in the auto writing trade still kicking.

Sometime in 1962, when David E. was still at Campbell-Ewald plugging Chevrolet, he got in touch with me at Lincoln-Mercury Public Relations, where I was doing likewise for its brands.  Undoubtedly this was because before joining Ford Motor Company in mid-1960 I had been the moonlighting Detroit columnist for Sports Cars Illustrated, New York based magazine of Ziff-Davis publications.  David E. was about to leave the advertising agency to become editor of SCI, which he would soon rebrand as Car and Driver.

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To pick my brain about my experiences with SCI, he invited me to lunch with him at one of those curious little watering holes he became so famous for discovering, in this case the Danish-American Sportsman’s Club, in a run-down (soon to be torn down) neighborhood west of the Wayne State University campus in mid-town Detroit.