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Automotive journalism pioneer David E. Davis Jr. dies at 80

March 28, 2011 |  5:30 pm

David E. Davis Jr., the founder of Automobile Magazine, who is considered a pioneer in automotive journalism, died Sunday at an Ann Arbor, Mich., hospital of complications from bladder cancer surgery. He was 80.

Called the dean of automotive journalism by Time magazine, Davis split from rival Car and Driver to start Automobile in 1985 with financial backing from media mogul Rupert Murdoch. He had been editor of Car and Driver twice, moving its operations from New York to Ann Arbor.

Davis changed the auto magazine business when he started Automobile with thick paper stock and full-color photography, according to the magazine.

"These magazines were not supposed to be trade journals," said Joe DeMatio, deputy editor of Automobile Magazine. "They were celebrations of the automobile, but with a keen awareness of the industry.

"He was very opinionated and did not hesitate to ruffle feathers, even if they were those of his own bosses."

Ford Motor Co. Executive Vice President Mark Fields said Monday in a statement that Davis' opinions as a journalist were respected.

"His deep knowledge of the automobile business was matched only by his ability to tell engaging stories," Fields said.

Davis attended Michigan's Olivet College and later sold Volkswagens and men's clothing. He also spent time on an auto assembly line, DeMatio wrote Sunday on the magazine's website.

--Associated Press