Editor’s note: The author protected Mercedes-Benz as an Automotive News reporter in New York beginning in 1988 and worked for the company from 2003 to 2006.

Leo Levine, the previous head of public relations for Mercedes-Benz of North The usa who epitomized and zealously defended the brand name in the U.S. for a long time, died Saturday at age 90.

His death adopted a battle with Parkinson’s disease, claimed his stepdaughter, Nancy Fournier.

Extensive prior to he grew to become a spokesman for the brand name, he had pushed its vehicles to their boundaries.

Levine obtained a flavor for race motor vehicle driving in Europe, wherever he served in the Army through the Korean War era. Soon after his discharge, he raced for Porsche in Europe and South The usa in the iconic 356 Speedster.

He also drove and wrote about driving Mercedes-Benzes, which include the 1954 W196 grand prix Formula One particular race motor vehicle that had been pushed by Juan Manuel Fangio and the legendary gull-winged three hundred SLRs.

He was a journalist and a reserve author, an automotive historian with an encyclopedic memory. He wrote Ford: The Dust and the Glory, A Racing History, Volume one (1901-1967), which was printed in 1968. Decades later arrived the next volume, covering 1968 to 2000.

Within the business, he may well be greatest remembered for his 20 a long time or so as head of public relations in the nineteen seventies and ’80s for what was then Mercedes-Benz North The usa, now Mercedes-Benz United states.

When Mercedes-Benz absolutely is considered a luxurious brand name in Europe, it’s also a common brand name for shipping and delivery vehicles, taxicabs and stripped-down passenger motor vehicles without the need of the luxurious attributes of U.S. models. Mercedes-Benz North The usa cultivated an graphic as the creme de la creme, and Levine was responsible for considerably of that.

Levine prolifically wined and dined the trade press, but he also took what he considered any disrespect for the brand name individually. (And if he failed to take it individually, he absolutely acted as if he did.)

That could include shows of mood. He could possibly ban a reporter from Mercedes-Benz press events for a when for finding a title completely wrong, these as vice president rather of government vice president. Yrs after he retired, he quietly seethed when a journalist showed up to the Mercedes-Benz holiday luncheon at The Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan “without the need of the common decency to set on a necktie.”

But he was just as tough, perhaps harder, on his have group. “His mantra was, ‘Never lie,’ ” automotive PR veteran Mike Geylin recalled in a cellular phone interview.

Levine also frequently, and only a very little far more politely, reminded Mercedes-Benz executives to preserve their mouths shut when they failed to know, or knew and couldn’t share, the response to a journalist’s concern.

“ ’No is an Ok response,’ text to that impact,” claimed Geylin, president of Kermish-Geylin General public Relations. He worked for Levine from 1978 to 1983.

Contributions can be produced to the Parkinson’s Basis.