By John Gunnell
Former Cars & Parts magazine editor Robert J. Stevens, 68, passed away Jan. 1, 2014, at Wilson Memorial Hospital in Sidney, Ohio. Best known as Bob Stevens to thousands of old car hobbyists, he was a resident of Sidney. He was born on July 25, 1945, in Detroit, Mich., and burial services were held Jan. 4 at Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, Mich.
Stevens was raised in Farmington, Mich., and often spoke proudly of his familys’ roles in various aspects of the auto industry. His mother worked for Packard, his brother Dean was a Ford engineer, his sister Carol is a UAW lawyer and his daughter Julie is an accountant for General Motors. Stevens’ father was a musician and a car enthusiast.
Beginning his writing career as a Vietnam War correspondent with the First Infantry Division, Stevens later shared many interesting war experiences with his friends. Upon returning to civilian life, he became a writer for Automotive News for three years. Then, he worked for Autoproducts magazine and Automotive Design & Development magazine. He also worked for two years as a contract employee for Chevrolet, editing three of its internal publications Stevens was named editor of Cars & Parts in the fall of 1979.
Stevens served as editor of Cars & Parts for 25 years, during which he also launched a Corvette magazine and complied books about cars. He wrote about and photographed hundreds of cars for feature stories and became acquainted with many hobbyists through his work. In 2004, he became Cars & Parts editor-at-large. He retired in September 2010.
Stevens won many honors and awards for his journalistic work and was also a member of the Meguiar’s Award Committee. He was a fan of Jay Leno and got to know the comedian and car collector fairly well. Stevens visited the “Tonight Show” numerous times and when Leno was picked to receive the Meguiar’s Award and wanted it to be given to someone else, Stevens was called upon to convince him that he truly deserved the honor.
One of Stevens’ favorite places was St. Ignace, Mich., where he would travel to attend car shows and gather with family members. Stevens had a beautiful collection of vintage cars and motorcycles and loved keeping them in pristine shape. He was such an avid photographer that he was usually too busy snapping photos to pose in them himself. While Stevens had great talent in both photography and writing, he was very humble about his accomplishments. People involved in the old car hobby appreciated his down-to-earth personality.
Stevens is survived by his wife, Dahlia, two daughters, Mrs. Joshua (Sandra) Smith of Matoon, Ill., and Julie Stevens, of Troy, Mich. He had six grandchildren (Charis, Maria, Constance, Merlin, Bonaventura and Digna Smith). He is also survived by one sister, Carol Stevens, of Commerce City, Mich. His family said anyone wishing to donate in his memory may make contributions to the Wounded Warriors Project or S.C.A.R.F. in memory of Robert J. Stevens.