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David Brownell RIP


West Peterson
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I just learned that David Brownell has died. He was editor of Hemming's and Special Interest Autos, and Old Cars Weekly. He and I had a lot in common, not the least of which was sharing a birthday.

In death, as in his life the past 10 years, it is impossible to find out any details about him. If anyone knows anything more, I'd sure appreciate the sharing of information.

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I met him several times back years ago. He was always decent to me. Never really got to know him. I have had quite a few people asking me about him from our semi close proximity in the northeast. As far as I know, very little has been shared about his life the last ten years. Hopefully his last decade was peaceful and enjoyable. RIP.

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Yes, the past decade has seen Dave very quiet. He and I were very active in the Society of Automotive Historians back in the 1970s / 1980s together - attended Board meetings all over , made sure the Society and their assorted chapters remained active etc. Good fellow, true car enthusiast, and he did have a sense of humor as well. R.I.P. my friend. It was an honor to have you as a friend.

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I always enjoyed spending time with him a Hershey.  There are several nice brass lamps in my collection that came from him, and a few other trinkets of automobilia that I'll treasure forever.

Terry

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I meet Dave at the AACA Annual Meeting when was the Editor of Old Cars Weekly, really nice guy that liked the same cars I like. After he moved to Hemmings he would come down to the Ridgefield Meet in September. One year he arrived with his black L Head MERCER Raceabout on the Hemmings rollback. That was one of the very few offers to drive someones Vintage car that I accepted, had to show him the garage were the McCarthy 1911 MERCER lived. Years later I delivered a flat rad Morgan to him and got to see some of his automobilia. The Bugatti literature I bought from him is a bit more special now that he is gone. Rest in Peace Dave, thank you for your work in the hobby.

 

Bob

Edited by 1937hd45 (see edit history)
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8 hours ago, SLDMRossi said:

The guy who would probably know is Jerry Lettieri...you're probably aware that Dave suffered a debilitating stroke a good number of years ago, and was in a full care facility ever since. His wife Mary predeceased him a year or two back. 

 

I sent him an Email. Still waiting for a reply.

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Dave loved the 3 litre Bentley tourer he had that he got from Austin Clark. Austin got the Bentley in trade from someone for an early car he had in his museum. Austin liked the Bentley but often told me soon after he got it that due to the location of the fixed front seat in the Bentley it was not a comfortable car for him to drive at all. I had the same experience in the Bentley when Austin and I drove it down to John Ducks restaurant in Southampton from the museum. He had me drive it and asked what I thought. Great car but like Austin I did not fit to well ( I have long legs, it was really cramped) . A 4 1/2 litre Bentley had more room and it was more comfortable - another friend Richard Lippold a well regarded modern sculptor had a 4 1/2 litre and only lived about a mile away from Austin's home at the western end of long island. Memories of two good friends.

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14 hours ago, SLDMRossi said:

The guy who would probably know is Jerry Lettieri...you're probably aware that Dave suffered a debilitating stroke a good number of years ago, and was in a full care facility ever since. His wife Mary predeceased him a year or two back. 

I was aware of the above, but was not sure if it was general knowledge. That was the last I heard of anything.

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Same here. Had a friend who visited with him a while back and reported he wasn't doing well.  Sad, but many great memories. 

Terry

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I got to know David well when I lived  lived on the east coast back in the 1980s and 1990s. After that, I would see him at Pebble Beach and other events. He briefly worked for Gooding and Company when David Gooding started his auction company. Brownell worked for Gooding until he had his stroke and sadly disappeared from the hobby. During the last 10+ years, I often thought about him and wondered if he was still alive, nobody seemed to know what happened to him other than  he  had a bad stroke and was in a "home".

      He was a great guy, a vast encyclopedia of all things automotive, and just a fun person to be around. He knew the real stories and the real histories about most of the significant automobiles that exist today. We used to swap brass lights with each other  and the haggling process was always entertaining and usually involved a few cocktails. Another great antique car legend lost. Godspeed old friend. 

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)
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7 hours ago, Walt G said:

Dave loved the 3 litre Bentley tourer he had that he got from Austin Clark. Austin got the Bentley in trade from someone for an early car he had in his museum. Austin liked the Bentley but often told me soon after he got it that due to the location of the fixed front seat in the Bentley it was not a comfortable car for him to drive at all. I had the same experience in the Bentley when Austin and I drove it down to John Ducks restaurant in Southampton from the museum. He had me drive it and asked what I thought. Great car but like Austin I did not fit to well ( I have long legs, it was really cramped) . A 4 1/2 litre Bentley had more room and it was more comfortable - another friend Richard Lippold a well regarded modern sculptor had a 4 1/2 litre and only lived about a mile away from Austin's home at the western end of long island. Memories of two good friends.

I was at Vintage Auto in Ridgefield when the Bentley arrived from a noted MILLER collector in Colorado, Austin got it in a swap for the 16 valve walking beam Duesenberg, the car that finished second at INDY in 1916. It was a good swap, the Duesenberg went to England for a restoration then back to Colorado, it now lives in Massachusetts, and is actively shown and raced. It was close to 40 years ago that Dave Brownell helped start the Fall Festival at Lime Rock. I hope the Bentley has a good caretaker, and is out and about. 

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FWIW, I recall his wife's name was not Mary, but something else... perhaps Marian or Miriam. I ran into her a number of years ago at the JCNA's Challenge Championship meet at Chateau Elan.

 

I wrote a couple of pieces for SIA in the early '80s and always enjoyed my interactions with him. Last time I saw him was at Amelia when he was working for Gooding and we spent a good bit of time time together walking the field and chewing the fat. He must have had the stroke not too long after that.

Nice and very knowledgeable car guy. It's a darn shame his last few years were not pleasant.

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Fantastic photo......wish I could post all the similar shots I have taken over the years.........we are quickly running out of guys with gasoline in their veins..............and the world keeps turning.

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  • 2 months later...

Hello, 
I am David’s step daughter, and would be happy to try to answer any questions about him. My mother, Marian, was David’s second wife. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s not long after Dave’s stroke, making communication with his career associates and friends difficult. I did not have access to his computer files or contacts. I apologize if the family seemed secretive or unwilling to discuss Dave. 

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Chelsea , no apology necessary at all. I knew Dave well because we were both very heavily involved in the Society of Automotive Historians at the same time in the early 1970s, as board members, officers etc. Manning the SAH booth at the Hershey flea market and car show in October. He visited Austin Clark here on long island and Austin was a close friend of mine as well  and lived near by me. Dave was a great guy, total enthusiast. We shared similar paths, after I left Cars & Parts magazine as Editor in the early 1970s he took my place for a while , we had good times talking later about working in Sesser, Illinois. I probably only met your mother once, but knew that she made Dave very happy and they were a great couple.

Walt Gosden

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Hi, West.  Great photo of the “vault”.

 

Is the photo of the gent to your upper left by chance the late past AACA President Bill Smith?  
 

Peter J.

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4 hours ago, Chelsea said:

Hello, 
I am David’s step daughter, and would be happy to try to answer any questions about him. My mother, Marian, was David’s second wife. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s not long after Dave’s stroke, making communication with his career associates and friends difficult. I did not have access to his computer files or contacts. I apologize if the family seemed secretive or unwilling to discuss Dave. 

 

Thank you, Chelsea. I just finished writing my next editorial, which included information on Dave's and my relationship, and what he meant to me. I also knew your mother. We had some good laughs together. I'm sorry for for your losses.

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6 hours ago, Chelsea said:

Hello, 
I am David’s step daughter, and would be happy to try to answer any questions about him. My mother, Marian, was David’s second wife. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s not long after Dave’s stroke, making communication with his career associates and friends difficult. I did not have access to his computer files or contacts. I apologize if the family seemed secretive or unwilling to discuss Dave. 

Hi Chelsea, I didn't know Dave as well as many here did, but we shared some good times at Hershey.  I have several brass lamps in my collection that I bought from him over the years.  A very good friend of mine knew him and often visited in his last couple of years so I was aware of his declining health. Still, it's sad when a true legend of the hobby leaves us.  You may be proud to know that a lamp from him will eventually become an award given by AACA. 

We share your sorrow with his loss.  Best wishes,

Terry

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