Aficionados Are Made, Not Born: A David E. Davis Memorial

The media is full of tributes to David E. Davis today. Most automobile writers (and readers) of a certain age will credit their early influence to his tenures at C&D, especially his classic second stint  which started in the mid seventies. But unwittingly, I was deeply influenced by his earlier (and anonymous) work as a copywriter for Chevrolet ads, especially Corvette ones.

This was a time when ad copy was just as important as the picture, or more so. People (and young kids like me) read them, and were never quite the same; well at least that applies to me. It wasn’t only because I was entranced by the 1962 Corvette itself just then; the sales magic Davis wove in that series of ads shaped a myth for me that were as much a cultural milestone as anything else that later shaped my susceptible youthful self during the sixties. He was a consummate salesmen; a spinner of dreams and aspirations; a Mad Man extraordinaire.  And he made aficionados of millions of us, even if not necessarily of him.

(copy of ad and a couple more follows)

Aficionados are made, not born. Corvette enthusiasm, like manhood, is a condition that develops slowly and requires the tempering influence of experience. It begins when you’re urging your faithful family sedan along some twisty bit of road and a Corvette slips by like you were just another bend in the highway. It reaches its peak with your checkbook in hand, savoring the view from the driver’s seat of that wondrous automobile and imagining yourself expertly answering the challenge of an Alpine pass. You can shorten the process considerably: see your Chevrolet dealer and drive a ’62 Corvette. It’s a car worth driving. It runs like all-get-out because it has a might 327 cubic inch V8 engine. It stops, it changes direction with the speed and ease of a gazelle because of its knife-edge balance and great, huge brakes. It’s a car to make driving enthusiasts of us all…

[knife-edge balance and great huge (drum) brakes indeed! Even as an nine-year old, I was starting to realize those were not exactly the ‘Vette’s strengths ]

Corvette owners are not necessarily the most carefree people in the world, but there are moments when every Corvette driver must think himself thrice blest. Here’s a car, more than any other, that has an uncanny ability to erase the day’s cares and woes and whisk its driver far, far away. Turn on the key, engage first gear and step on it: Good-bye office, hello better things in life. We’ll make an attempt to analyze the chemistry of such a phenomenon: it’s all blurred by things like the feeling of wind in your face, the sound of the Corvette exhaust, the cyclone urge of a truly great V8 engine. We will be more than happy, however, to direct you to your nearest Chevrolet dealer to sample a Corvette. Look at it, sit in it, drive it and you’ll find that we haven’t exaggerated a bit. We couldn’t exaggerate these things if we tried. [Ed: of course not]

There’s a cult of sports-car -type people who spread the myth that one needs vast knowledge of things mechanical to own a sports car. Be not deceived! This may be true of some machines, but not the Corvette. Any Corvette, however equipped, will give unruffled, unfussy driving pleasure while outperforming cars that cost three times as much and require the full time attention of a bilingual mechanic. No, friends; if you yearn to spend long hours lying on cold cement, covered with grease, shop elsewhere. Corvettes are for driving; fill them with gas and people and point them down the road. That’s the way to enjoy this automobile! Of course, if you simply must do something, we don’t mind if you wash it yourself.