The former editor of Cars & Parts and C&P Corvette, Robert J. Stevens passed away on Jan. 1, 2014 at his home in Sidney, Ohio. After answering a classified ad in 1979, Stevens was named editor of Cars & Parts. He held that post for 25 years, before becoming editor-at-large in 2004. He retired in September 2010.
A Detroit native, Bob got his start in writing with the U.S. Army while on tour in Vietnam in 1967, with his work appearing in Army Digest, Stars & Stripes, The Big Red One and other military publications. With much of the material released to the civilian press corps, his work also appeared in newspapers all over the U.S. As a photojournalist for the 1st Infantry Division, he was often in combat zones and survived three helicopter crashes. In one instance, he was even reported dead.
I can’t remember the first time I met Bob, but we became good friends while being members of the Meguiar’s Award committee (selecting the collector car hobby’s “person of the year”) throughout the 1990s. Bob impressed me so much during our discussions, that when he asked me if I was interested working for Cars & Parts in 1999, I jumped at the opportunity.
Eventually I replaced Bob as editor of Corvette, then Cars & Parts, but we continued to work together as he took on the role of editor-at-large. There was no one better and faster at writing well-researched, original articles than Bob, probably thanks to his experience in Vietnam. Nor was there anyone in collector car publishing more excited and passionate about the hobby. Advertising account executive Jim Wirth noted during Bob’s memorial service that most people lose their passion for their hobby when it turns into a job. For Bob, it seemed his passion only grew with each day, with each car bought and with each new related trinket that he found. I was with him many times when he had to make a decision to sell a car in order to buy another. He dreaded getting rid of even the plainest four-door.
The one car that Bob was most excited about was his 1960 Corvette, like the one his dad owned when Bob was in high school. Eventually, his dad’s car was sold, and I remember the day when he got the phone call that it had been discovered, still in Michigan. Bob couldn’t wait for his next trip to the Detroit area so that he could see it again. The owner gave Bob “first refusal” if he ever decided to sell, and that day couldn’t come soon enough for Bob. Sadly, it never did.
While I attended numerous cars shows with Bob, I never traveled across the country with him. However, during the 2007 AAA Revival Glidden Tour to Gettysburg, I was honored to have him ride with me the whole week. Bob had endless stories to tell … none of which were boring. I enjoyed every minute. We always tried to join up again on another tour, and we both felt it would happen soon.
Bob is survived by Dahlia, his wife of 47 years; and two daughters, Mrs. Joshua (Sandra) Smith of Matoon, Ill., and Julie Stevens, of Troy, Mich.; and six grandchildren (Charis, Maria, Constance, Merlin, Bonaventura and Digna Smith). He is also survived by one sister, Carol Stevens, of Commerce City, Mich.