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Alexis de Sakhnoffsky (Алесис де Сакчноффскы)
Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky (b. November 12, 1901 - d. April 29, 1964)
Associated Firms
Hayes Mfg. Co.; Van den Plas S.A., Minerva, Budd

Count Alexis Wladimirovich de Sakhnoffsky's 1930s illustrations in Esquire introduced "streamlining" to the American public. Sakhnoffsky's distinctive style resonated with cosmopolitan Americans' desire for modernity, efficiency, novelty, and speed. While still in his twenties, his streamlined automobile designs won international awards. Historians of automobile design, with the prescient exception of Brooks Stevens, have ignored or belittled his work because of his limited technical knowledge; but his charisma, vision, and talent for illustration influenced American automotive, household, and fashion design to a remarkable degree.

After a short career in fashion illustration and design, his attention turned to automobiles and during the mid-1920s he was associated with the following Belgian coach builders; Lejeune A. Fils Aine (rue des Allies, 80, Verviers); D'Ieteren Freres (Rue de Mail 50-60, Bruxelles), L'Auto Carrosserie, (Ham 104, en  Zondernaamstaat, 10, Gent), M. & Ch.Snutsel Fils, (Rue Stevin 59, Bruxelles); Carrosserie Van den Plas, (Rue St. Michel, Cinquantenaires, Bruxelles), and Vesters & Nierinck (Rue du Foyer Schaerbeekvis).

Custom autobodies, coachbuilt to his design, were constructed for chassis including Bentley, Buick, Cadillac, FIAT, Gräf und Stift, Hispano-Suiza, Imperia, Mercedes-Benz, Métallurgique, Minerva, Packard, Puch, Rolls-Royce, Stutz and Voisin. Many of these vehicles won awards in continental concours d'elegances between 1926-1931, in Beaulieu, Berlin, Bournemouth, Cannes, Le Touquet, Monte Carlo, and Nice. (Unlike today's Concours d'Elegance which judge a vehicle solely on its own merits, Concours of the 1920s and 1930s awarded points for coordinated displays of coachwork and fashion, usually featuring a woman's clothing but at times extending to matching dogs and chauffeurs.)

In Monaco, his work won Grand Prix medallions for 5 years straight: 1926 with a Minerva, 1927 with a Minerva, 1928 with a Rolls-Royce, 1929 with a Packard, and 1930 with the first Grand Prix awarded to an American chassis: the unique 1929 Cord “Hayes Coupe” (which recently sold at auction for $2.4 million, making it the most expensive Cord in the world).

He designed the streamlined Labatt's delivery truck the fondly remembered traffic-stopping vehicles that transported the London, Ontario brewer's popular beverages across Canada from the mid-1930s into the mid-1950s.

His talent for graphics and line drawings extended his influence among the general public, and his illustrations appeared in the following periodicals: Autobody, Conquete de l'Air, Esquire, L'Equipement Automobile, Motor Trend, Psyche, Skyways and The Classic Car.

Fluent in four languages (English, French, German and Russian) de Sakhnoffsky became Autobody Magazine's 'Continental Correspondent' in the mid-1920s. By 1928 his articles and award-winning designs had attracted the attention of General Motors, Packard and Hayes Mfg. Co. and he accepted a position as art director with the latter in its Grand Rapids design studio. During his tenure at Hayes, de Sakhnoffsky influenced the design of many automobile bodies, as Hayes' clients included American Austin, Auburn, DeVaux (later Continental), Franklin, Marmon, Peerless, Reo, Roosevelt and Studebaker.

When his contract expired, he became a freelance consultant, having realized that consultation and free-lance projects generated the most income and best suited his lifestyle. Not surprisingly de Sakhnoffsky's eccentric sense of style extended to his wardrobe which according to Esquire consisted of "riding breeches and boots with open-collared white shirts."

His trademark monogram, seen to the right, needs a little explanation. In English, his initials are A.D.S.- A for Alexis, D for de, and S for Sakhnoffsky. In Russian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, his initials are A.д.C. - A for Alexis , д for de, and C for Saknoffsky (Алесис де Сакчноффскы).

De Sakhnoffsky maintained offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, New Canaan (Conn.), New York City; and Philadelphia and was awarded 38 US patents during his lifetime. His numerous non-automotive clients included Attwood Mfg. (boat hardware), the Brown Derby (tableware), Chrysler Corp.(World's Fair exhibit), Earl Carroll Theatre, LA (interiors) Emerson (radios), Feather-Craft (boats), Fleetwheels (travel trailers), Frost-Craft (boats), Gruen (watches), Hadley Mfg. (boat horn), Heywood-Wakefield (furniture), Kelvinator (refrigerators), Mullins (boats), Murray (bicycles), Muzak (radios), Natan & Co. (dresses), Pedwin (shoes), Pioneer (suspenders), Revlon (advertisements), Hal Roach (movie sets), Sabca (airplanes), Steelcraft (toys & pedal cars), Vollrath (cookware), and Yale & Towne (forklifts).

Post-Hayes his automotive clients included Bantam, Budd Mfg. (trailers), Crosley, Ford, Indiana (trucks), Kaiser-Frazer, LaFayette, LaSalle, Mack, Murray Corp. (auto bodies), Nash, Packard, Tucker, White (trucks) and Willys-Overland.

In the late 1930s, he took on a number of interesting side jobs, including set design on a famous Hal Roach comedy ‘Topper”, and musical instruments for Phil Spitalny's popular "all-girl" orchestra.

De Sakhnoffsky became a US citizen in 1939. In 1941, his divorce (due to his wife's objection to his girlfriends) became the subject of gossip columnists from coast to coast. From 1943-1945, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, stationed in Moscow where his multilingual fluency proved useful.

Although his Army pension and work for Esquire provided a steady, albeit small income after the War, he discovered that opportunities for freelance automobile designers were non-existent and took a position with his protégé, Brooks Stevens. He augmented his income with illustrations for advertising agencies and an occasional design project for small manufacturers and wealthy individuals. After parting ways with Stevens he moved to Atlanta with his third wife, passing away there on April 29, 1964, at the age of 62.

The Count told his life story in a three-part article published in the journal of the Classic Car Club of America in the late 1950s, and most of the personal anecdotes that follow are taken from the series.

Alexis Wladimirovich de Sakhnoffsky was born on November 12, 1901 in Kiev, the largest city in the Russian state of the Ukraine, to Count Wladimir and Countess (Terestchenko) de Sakhnoffsky.

His father, Count Wladimir de Sakhnoffsky, was a quiet, scientifically inclined nobleman, who just happened to be the private financial counselor to Czar Nicholas II.

His mother was the granddaughter of the Russian sugar magnate and industrialist Artemon Terestchenko, one of the wealthiest persons in Czarist Russia. Her father, Nicola Terestchenko, inherited his business and fortune, which was handed down to his children, who aside from de Sakhnoffsky's mother included Theodore and Ivan Nikolavitch Terestchenko, the world renowned art collectors.

The extent of the immense wealth of Alexis' mother's family can be seen in the family's yacht, the 318 foot Iolanda, which was owned by his grandmother Elizabeth, Nicola's widow. Constructed in 1908 in Leith, Scotland by Ramage and Ferguson Shipyards the Iolanda was the second largest steam yacht in the world. Purchased in 1911 from its original owner, Commodore Morton F. Plant, it sailed the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas carrying the scions of Europe as well as members of the Russian Imperial family, and one would assume a young Count Alexis.

He grew up in a five-story mansion whose staff of 18 included a French governess and British nurse from whom he learned French and English. Early on Alexis became enamored with the family's chauffeur-driven Mercedes and he recalls his great delight when its Russian operator opened up the exhaust cutout.

As a thirteen-year-old de Sakhnoffsky, whose boyhood wish was to be the Czar's coachman, constructed his first vehicle, a rudimentary engineless model constructed using a sled and a set of wheels appropriated from a perambulator. He often used the household custodian, Peter, as ballast on his daily charges down the hills surrounding his home in Kiev. The vehicle was soon confiscated and destroyed, after Alexis nearly struck his father while tearing down a steep hill.

Following a series of missteps and the entry of Russia into the First World War, which resulted in the deaths of 3,300,000 Russians, Czar Nicholas II was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of March 1917 which itself was overthrown by the Bolsheviks the following October. The senior de Sakhnoffsky's patron abdicated on March 15, 1917 and summarily executed on July 16-17, 1918.

Due to their immense wealth the Terestchenko family were easy targets for the Bolsheviks, and de Sakhnoffsky's father committed suicide in August of 1918. Saknoffsky recalled :

"The Red-imposed curfew was 6 p.m. Alone in Father's study, haunted by his last moments before taking poison, I sat motionless in complete silence. The only perceptible sound was an occasional rumble of iron-rimmed wagon wheels. Since no traffic was allowed after hours, this meant that another group of wretched arrested people, maybe relatives or friends, were on the way to interrogation or torture."

The Russian Revolution took place over a number of years, and during its early days a group of former Imperial Army Generals organized a volunteer army to fight the Bolsheviks. Headquartered in the Ukraine the rolls of the White Army - as they were called - included a Private de Sakhnoffsky.

Luckily for de Sakhnoffsky, an Aunt in Marseilles, France arranged for his immediate family (Alex, his mother and sisters) to be smuggled out of the country in January of 1920, his only possession being 1,000 rubles and a 5½ carat diamond ring. He was safe, but no longer wealthy, so Alexis' aunt financed a sojourn to Switzerland where he enrolled in the engineering program at the University of Lausanne.

After three years of school he ran out of money and moved to Paris where he began sketching gowns, which he hoped to sell to couturiers.

"But a style designer can't get anywhere in Paris unless he can also cut and fit dresses," explained de Sakhnoffsky. "So I could get only 17 or 20 francs for a sketch, and even then didn't make a sale very often."

With his fashion career at a standstill, he decided to take a course in design at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in Bruxelles, Belgium. To help finance the move he began looking for a job in and around Bruxelles.

Coincidentally, Thomas Hibbard, a partner in the Franco-American automobile design firm of Carrosserie Hibbard et Darrin, happened to be in Carrosserie Van den Plas' Bruxelles office in late 1923 when a young Russian artist (de Sakhnoffsky) came by looking for work. Surprisingly, his portfolio did not contain any renderings of automobiles rather it consisted of detailed drawings of women's clothing and accessories as his only work up until that time had been for department stores.

However de Sakhnoffsky's talents were obvious and he was subsequently hired by the Antoine Van den Plas as a junior draughtsman at 750 francs a month. His multi-linguistic talents were as much an asset to his employer as were his artistic ones as he served as translator whenever one of the firm's international clients visited the shop. As Van den Plas directors also served on the boards of Minerva, Metallurgique and Imperia, the company was the coachbuilder of choice for the three Belgian-built chassis.

Before long Alexis was given more responsibility and began executing final renderings of selected model bodies for Van den Plas wealthy clients. Not satisfied to be a mere interpreter-delineator, de Sakhnoffsky longed for his former life of luxury stating:

"My mind associates living below standards with the dreadful odor of wet wool, hungry eyes and gradual sinking to the acceptance of status quo."

He explains, "It was tough getting used to working long hours with the same faces around you. I loathed the drab surroundings, creaky floors and garlic stench of my colleagues' garlic and lard sandwiches. Even my white smock seemed to me a brand of disgrace But. worst of all was the ordeal of having to share the odiferous, window-less lavatory without any privacy whatsoever."

During meetings in the conference room he often feigned a headache or some other malady just to be able to use his employer's executive lavatory where he could "revel in clean, sanitary comfort".

On December 27, 1924 de Sakhnoffsky was summoned to his employer's office, unsure if he was about to be fired or promoted. Prepared for the former he wondered:

"What about Madeleine, my new girlfriend, whom I promised new outfits to join me on my weekend safaris?"

He needn't have worried as Mon. Antoine offered him a promotion, appointing him Van den Plas' Art Director, a position which included a key to the firm's executive lavatory.

Although he rarely mentioned her, de Saknoffsky ended up marrying the girl mentioned above. Little is known about the first Countess de Sakhnoffsky (nee Madeleine Parlongue) other than she was born in Belgium to Edgard Henri and Lucie Ernestine (Louat) Parlongue in 1910 (one source states 1914). De Sakhnoffsky met her while he was working for Van de Plas and she accompanied him to Grand Rapids when he relocated to the United States, the 1930 US Census listing the couple as Madeline and Alexis de Sacnoffsky (sic).

In addition to the preceding reference from his Classic Car series, de Sakhnoffsky mentions her in a 1933 interview, explaining that while in Belgium he met a girl who during the war had risked her life for her country in the intelligence service. She had a hatful of citations for her bravery – and also she had a pretty face and that indefinite something the stylist loved – 'chic'.

Ironically an art director's pay wasn't sufficient to allow for the owning of a car, de Sakhnoffsky explaining:

"It was agony to occasionally drive my own designs, when I ached for a car - just any car.

"To satisfy my craving, I arranged with the management of the custom-car factory I worked for, to allow me to "test" my creations over week-ends. And since our production ran at about 1½ cars a week, there was always at least one finished car available on Saturdays, prior to be shipped or driven away by the owner.

"Attired in my best clothes, I drove past the great plate glass windows of the Belgian Capitol, watching the reflection of the long-wheelbase costly vehicle, with myself at the wheel. All my small savings went towards trips to the sea-shore or mountain resorts, where the low bows of flunkeys and admiring glances of patrons gave me a heady feeling of success. Only the most exclusive places, I felt, were good enough for MY cars."

During those days a good portion of a continental coach builders business came from its annual entries in Europe's prestigious auto shows and Concours d'Elegance (translation: competition of elegance). Van den Plas S.A. creations

A little Van den Plas history is in order as there were three separate coachbuilders operating under the Van den Plas name at the time.

It was in 1871 that a blacksmith left his workshop on the industrial north-east side of Bruxelles to his nephew, Guillaume Van den Plas, who had served as his apprentice. By 1880 Guillaume had expanded into the manufacture of wheels and axles by 1884 entire carriages. In that year he relocated to Antwerp where he was joined by his three sons, Antoine, Henri and Willy. Following Guillaume's retirement in 1898, Henri Van den Plas assumed control of the families Antwerp operations and Antoine and Willy returned to Bruxelles where they established their own works at 32 Rue de St. Michael.

Most of the firm's work was on the associated Minerva chassis although they produced bodies for all the major European and American luxury chassis at one time or another. The 1934 bankruptcy of Minerva caused the bankruptcy of Van den Plas during the following year, its last known project being a Torpedo Roadster on a Duesenberg Model J chassis. The firm was subsequently reorganized and survived into 1949, specializing in bus and commercial bodies.

In 1913 a British Van den Plas was established in Hendon by Warwick Wright who produced bodies under license from Van den Plas, S.A. After various name changes and reorganizations the firm assets were purchased in 1923 by Edwin Fox and his brothers who reorganized it as Vanden Plas Ltd. The British firm subsequently moved from Hendon to Kingsbury where they established a mutually beneficial arrangement with Bentley Motors Ltd. for whom they produced over 700 bodies between 1924 and November 1931 when Bentley was purchased by Rolls-Royce. With the end of their close association with Bentley, Vanden Plas Ltd. Supplied coachwork to various British firms including Alvis, Armstrong Siddeley, Bentley, Daimler, Lagonda and Rolls-Royce. In 1946 the firm became a subsidiary of the Austin Motor Co., who used it to manufacture the coachwork for its new Austin A-135 Princess. In 1960 Vanden Plas began offering its own line of cars, but after a succession of mergers and acquisitions the firm ended up being badge affixed to upscale versions of various British Leland marques.

A third Van Den Plas was formed by Willy Van de Plas, the youngest son of Guillaume, who left Bruxelles and established a partnership with a Parisian coachbuilder in 1920 forming Carrosserie Willy Van den Plas et Solomon & Cie. Willy bought out his partner in 1926, and the business was subsequently conducted at 228 Rue le Courbe, Paris, without the Solomon suffix. Willy won the 'Grand Prix du Concours d'Elegance de Paris' in 1930 and the 'Coupe de la Body' and 'Grand Prix d'Honneur' in 1931 with an 8-cylinder Delage chassis. Carrosserie Willy Van den Plas survived until 1934.

Alexis de Saknoffsky was attached to the Bruxelles-based Van den Plas S.A. and did no work for the French or British firms that shared the same name. The following first-hand description of the Van den Plas shops is excerpted from his 1957 Classic Car article:

"The output of most deluxe coachbuilders was very small. At best, Van den Plas produced one to one and one-half bodies a week, usually taking three months to finish them. The customers were prominent Englishmen, titled and/or wealthy Belgians and members of the rich international crowd referred to the company by representatives in London, Paris and Spain..

"Our London representative was the Cadillac-Buick dealer; in Spain our Mr. Rugeroni sold Rolls-Royce, and so on. But our Brussels salesman was debonair, impeccably dressed André Monimaerts. His job was to hang around races, bars and night clubs and weed out the latest information on who is in the chips, or ready for a new custom-built creation. A lot of this information was channeled to him via ladies of easy virtue, with whom he had quite a way. One of them, a beautiful creature called "Mouche" (Fly), who divided her well-paid-for time between London and Brussels, was always good to provide numerous tips which resulted in a few (auto) bodies for André.

"Upon arrival, the customer was brought into the sanctum of Monsieur Antoine's wood-paneled office. If the customer was English or American, I was immediately summoned to act as interpreter. Sooner or later, however, I was always in the picture when styling was discussed.

"Some members of old, noble families had exact replicas of their favorite models reproduced every few years on newer chassis. Their family color schemes were always the same down to the last filet (stripe). Occasionally, some of the younger members drifted towards flashy Bugattis, SSK Mercedes, etc. but most of the aristocracy was not too wealthy and what with occasionally indulging in special cars for their lady-friends, they had to watch their own car budget. And watching who paid for whose car with whose credit was a delicate job for Monsieur Antoine and his credit man.

"Hanging in the ante-room were about thirty of my original drawings of our models. These were replaced from time to time when I had a spare moment. Generally, the customer was able to find something there which was in line with his wishes.

"Since the reputation of quality was unquestioned, after the customer selected his model and agreed on a general estimated cost, Monsieur Antoine summoned his production accounting- coordinating executive, who took in long-hand, copious notes of the details. These covered a wide variety of queer wishes, from vanities carved out of solid ivory, to sunburst roof treatments in pink leather or interiors matching the skin of the owner (for a well-known mulatto songstress).

"My job was to either create an original or to execute the final renderings of the selected model in the chosen colors and sometimes perspective sketches of interiors and fancy woodwork. The client supplied us with full information on his crest or monogram to be hand-painted on the rear doors and engraved on silver cocktail shakers, flagons and cups.

"A staff meeting followed during which department chiefs (body drafting, lumber chief, sheet metal chief, upholstery head and finally chief painter) reduced the coordinator's notes to departmental detailed instructions. All were dressed in long white smocks, with only the general production manager, a two-hundred-fifty-pound Frenchman called Mr. Gifflaux, allowed to keep on his stiff black hat.

"From then on, thoroughly conscious of the customer's wishes, I worked with the body lofters who added all the necessary modifications to the master body drafts of our basic models."

Although Van den Plas S.A. is known to have built on Bentley, Benz, Buick, Cadillac, Excelsior, Fiat, Gräf und Stift, Hispano-Suiza, Imperia, Isotta-Fraschini, Mercedes, Métallurgique, Packard, Panhard, Rolls-Royce, Puch, Stutz and Voisin, the bulk of their work was on Minerva chassis, and de Sakhnoffsky recalled five memorable examples.

The first was a 1927 convertible trimmed in pigskin that was built for a wealthy British Polo captain.

The second, a 1929 convertible constructed for an Indian maharaja that was finished in navy and upholstered in black lizard with all interior metal parts either 14-karat gold or gold plated. The third was a closed-coupled sedan on a 20-hp Rolls-Royce chassis built to order for Adrian Conan Doyle, the son of Sherlock Holmes' creator, Arthur Conan Doyle.

The fourth and fifth, I'll let him describe directly:

"One of our esteemed clients, Prince de Ligne, member of one of the oldest Belgian families and brother of the Belgian Ambassador to the United States, was also an ardent big-game hunter. I designed a special car for him, following his detailed specifications. It was built on the large Minerva,-and was really a phaeton with a rakishly slanted V-windshield and extra low sides. There were no running boards proper. The fenders were of the domed, individual cycle-type; there was a flat valance covering the frame on the sides and two large steps allowed entry into the body without doors. Two large un racks were attached to the outside. The hood and body were entirely finished in engine-turned aluminum with red leather trim inside. The practicality of using a long wheelbase, deluxe chassis for the Belgian Congo roads is, of course, highly questionable, but I love to think of the field day the wild game must have had admiring the gleaming finish in the African sun.

"One day I was interviewing a striking brunette with something bohemian about her. Her clothes 'reeked' the expensive couturiers, she had a casual aplomb of people of wealth and a heavy Slavic accent. She told me that her husband, a known painter, wanted two cars: a sedan on the large Rolls and a convertible on the Isotta-Fraschini. Both cars were to be finished in ivory paint, with large sterling silver monograms applied on the doors. The interiors were to be upholstered in fraises ecrasées (crushed strawberry) leather and the vanities along the partition and next to rear arm rests were to be carved out of solid elephant tusks. When I expressed doubt that the largest tusks would be large enough for full body width vanities, she advised me that she and her husband would provide the ivory gathered during one of their recent safaris.

"In the center of the roof in the rear compartment there was to be an ivory rosette with the pink leather gathered around it in a sunburst effect.

"As blasé as I was by the unusual and often ridiculous requests of our wealthy patrons, my curiosity was aroused as to her identity.

"Her husband complained that being a nature lover, he was stymied by the lack of vertical vision in the average sedan. Wishing to see mountains and sky, he wanted a transparent section of the roof just over the windshield. The car was built as specified. Its owner was the late José Sert (Sert Room of the Waldorf and Murals at Rockefeller Center in New York). His wife, Nina, was born M'divani, sister of the three notorious, "marrying" M'divanis."

Although he doesn't mention it in his Classic Car series, a number of de Sakhnoffsky designs were constructed by Van den Plas S.A.'s Belgian competitors, one notable example being a Packard convertible Victoria shown at the 1928 Paris Auto Salon that was constructed by D’Ieteren Freres. Soon after its appearance Van den Plas made it available as did Waterhouse and Murphy in the United States.

Although the exact relationship between de Saknoffsky, Van den Plas and the following Belgian coachbuilders is unknown, his designs appeared on bodies constructed by the following firms during the late 1920s: Lejeune A. Fils Aine (rue des Allies, 80, Verviers); D'Ieteren Freres (Rue de Mail 50-60, Bruxelles), L'Auto Carrosserie, (Ham 104, en Zondernaamstaat, 10, Gent), M. & Ch.Snutsel Fils, (Rue Stevin 59, Bruxelles); Carrosserie Van den Plas, (Rue St. Michel, Cinquantenaires, Bruxelles), and Vesters & Nierinck (Rue du Foyer Schaerbeekvis).

Between 1926 and 1929 many de Sakhnoffsky designed vehicles won awards at competitions that took place at Beaulieu, Berlin, Bournemouth, Cannes, Le Touquet, Monte Carlo, and Nice. In Monaco, his work won Grand Prix medallions for 5 years straight: 1926 with a Minerva, 1927 with a Minerva, 1928 with a Rolls-Royce, 1929 with a Packard, and 1930 with a Cord. De Sakhnoffsky recalled "fate was good to me."

Content with his reputation as one of Europe's top automobile designers, de Sakhnoffsky set his sights on his next goal, repeating his Continental success in America. He relates:

"I started thinking seriously about going to America. Though ever-since my adolescence, I dreamed about living in America and gaining recognition, I never wanted to arrive as an immigrant and proceed from scratch to establish a reputation. If I was to come at all, it had to be on my own terms: crossing on a deluxe liner with a substantial contract in my pocket.

"That required some preparation. I needed recognition outside of Belgium, but could not afford a publicity agent. I decided to start building myself up by contributing to automotive trade publications. Though I had no training as a writer, I was fortunate to have acquired early in my life command of French, English and German. Also my interest in cars helped me gather a working knowledge of technical terms. Soon I was writing monthly articles on automotive design trends for 'L'Equipment Automobile', - an influential Paris publication, and 'Autobody', - a popular trade magazine published in New York.

"Both carried my by-line and address, and since I was paid a fixed amount per printed page, I found it profitable to send large amounts of photos, which sharply reduced my writing time. Naturally I filled the space with easily obtainable photos of all the cars which I designed for Van den Plas, S.A. This extra work provided me with additional income and publicity outlets in France and America."

By early 1928 de Sakhnoffsky's contributions to Autobody began to pay off. The first offer came from General Motors Corp.'s Art & Colour division, who offered him a six-month contract at double his current salary. He declined, hoping a longer contract would materialize, but agreed to meet his prospective boss, Harley Earl, at the Fall Olympia Show in London.

Several months later he received an offer from the Hayes Mfg. Co., a large automobile body manufacturer located in Grand Rapids, Michigan who at the time they were building production bodies for Chrysler, Marmon, Willys and Reo. Hayes officials had met de Sakhnoffsky who served as their tour guide on a visit to Van den Plas' Bruxelles facility.

Familiar with his Autobody by-line and his numerous awards Hayes management hoped that a styling studio within the organization would provide some additional prestige with clients, and they offered him the position of Art Director - Stylist at what he considered to be "an excellent figure".

During the 1920s Packard enjoyed a substantial popularity on the Continent and Van den Plas, S.A. bodied quite a few of them, working directly with the Parisian (Maurice Barbezat) and London (Leonard Williams Ltd.) distributors. Several of de Sakhnoffsky's designs won awards in France, and Van den Plas supplied Barbezat with striking bodies for the annual Paris Salon. In fact Barbezat was so pleased his work he arranged a meeting between de Sakhnoffsky and Packard Chairman Alvan Macauley at the Paris Salon in the Fall of 1928.

A de Sakhnoffsky-designed Packard Convertible Victoria painted black and trimmed in red leather provided the back drop for their meeting, where the young designer enthused:

"The golden youth of Europe is waiting for chic bodies, which will match the performance of your chassis. You have to compete with Hispano-Suiza, Delage, Bentley and Minerva, or be frozen out of the deluxe Continental market".

Macauley walked slowly around the car which was fully ten inches lower than the surrounding production models, his head towering over the convertible top. Unconvinced that there would be sufficient headroom inside, he opened the door and sat at the wheel ad discovered there were inches to spare over his hat. Unbeknownst to Macauley, de Saknoffsky had installed the seat on a dropped floor pan affixed several inches below the top of the frame rails, a custom touch that provided additional headroom in convertible automobiles (somewhat similar to channeling as practiced by today's modern hot rodders). Although the practice was sometimes used on competition vehicles to lower the center of gravity, it was rarely used on passenger cars at such an early date.

After a short silence Macauley told the designer:

"Young man there is no doubt that you design striking cars, strictly Continental. However, since our total volume of export to Europe amounts to less than 5% of our production, who cares about what the Europeans prefer. Still, I think there is a place for you in America, but I will not be the one to import you. Come and see me when you reach Michigan".

The convertible Victoria in question was subsequently purchased by the Packard Motor Company and shipped to Detroit. Although a position with Packard would have been a great opportunity, he had already accepted Hayes offer and immediately set sail for New York on board the United States Lines' S.S. Leviathan reaching Manhattan on October 22, 1928.

Hayes had already alerted the press to de Sakhnoffsky's hiring, the November 1928 issue of Autobody announced his upcoming appearance at a December 10, 1928 S.A.E. (Society of Automotive Engineers) conference:

"Speakers for Detroit Body Meeting

"The Body Division of the Detroit Section, S.A.E., will meet on Dec. 10 at the Book-Cadillac Hotel, to hear a discussion of body development and design as revealed at the Paris and New York Salons. The speakers as now arranged are : L. Clayton Hill ( Murray Corporation of America) ; Raymond H. Dietrich (Dietrich, Inc.) ; Alexis de Sakhnoffsky (Hayes Body Corporation). The subject of this meeting is one of great immediate interest and a large attendance is expected by Chairman W. N. Davis."

The December 1928 issue of Autobody formally announced his hiring:

"Art Director for Hayes

"Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, who came here recently to accept an engagement as art director for the Hayes Body Corporation, of Grand Rapids, Mich., is a native of Russia. When 18 years of age, he left Russia and entered the School of Engineers at Lucerne, Switzerland, where he studied two years and then continued his engineering studies for two years more at the Electromechanical Institute in Brussels. Having meanwhile specialized in designing, he spent another year and a half in Paris studios, most of which time was devoted to dress designing.

"He was connected for five years with the Carrosserie Van den Plas, S. A., of Brussels, first as line and color creator and later as art director in charge of the line-and-color research department. For five successive years, bodies which he designed were awarded grads prix at the Concours d'Elegance de Monte Carlo; a first prize was won by his design at the recent Bournemouth Elegance Contest, and one at Le Touquet Rallye. In addition to bodies for Van den Plas, he has designed for the following Continental coachbuilders: Snutsel Aine and Vesters and l'Auto Carrosserie, of Ghent. For three years, he designed dresses for Natan & Co. Besides acting as correspondent on the Continent for Autobody, he has had charge of articles on novelties in custom design for L'Equipement Automobile, of Paris; body articles for Brussels fashion magazine, Psyche; contributed a series of articles on the adapting of body designing to the airplane in Conquete de l'Air and acted as a consulting body engineer to the aircraft factory SABCA, of Brussels. He has also had charge of developing special designs and color schemes for the 30-hp. Minervas of Minerva, Ltd. of England."

De Sakhnoffsky recalled his first few months in the country:

"By mid-December I was slowly absorbing America, learning its customs and studying local automotive trends. After years of creating one-of-a-kind bodies it was a novel experience to design production lines, which sharply restricted the scope of possible silhouettes by requiring interchangeability of doors, adaptation of last year's fenders etc. At times it seemed as though I was prostituting my acquired experience of creating bodies for lines only, without considering production limitations. Still that was the fresh approach which the US body-builders looked for, and it was up to me to adjust my sights and inject original ideas into dies for mass production."

On December 24, 1928 de Sakhnoffsky received a phone call from Packard's Alvan Macauley inviting him to Christmas dinner at the Old Town Club on East Jefferson Rd., Detroit. At that time the coachwork used in Packard's custom body program was supplied by third parties who supplied them in small lots of from 10 to 100 bodies on an as-needed basis. Each coachbuilder employed their own designers and although they claimed the bodies supplied to Packard were exclusively to them, Macauley believed the same bodies were also offered to his competitors, albeit with minor modifications.

He wanted Packard to have its own exclusive custom coachwork, and invited de Sakhnoffsky to form his own design studio at the firm, which would then be constructed by a custom coach builder of his own choosing. Although the young designer was tempted to take the offer, which he considered to be the opportunity of a lifetime, he asked for a few days to think it over.

Although de Sakhnoffsky had signed no written contract with Hayes he knew they had obtained a special dispensation from the State Department to import him as a 'skilled specialist', due to an overfilled Russian quota, and understood they expected him to stay with the firm for at least a year.

However the offer still tempted him so he discussed it with the Chairman of the Board of Hayes, the same man who had originally retained his services back in Belgium. De Sakhnoffsky felt:

"... he could not afford to hurt Macauley's feelings by choosing to remain with a less prominent Company, when he was offering me an important creative position in an executive capacity."

It was mutually decided that both Hayes and de Sakhnoffsky were obligated to serve the best interest of the stockholders, so he signed a contract agreeing to stay with Hayes for the next 12 months. Hayes attorneys provided him with the following excuse to provide to Macauley. As the original 2-year work visa was issued to Hayes, and not de Sakhnoffsky, his resignation could result in his immediate deportation back to Belgium. Apparently it pacified Macauley as he repeated the offer four years later at which time the stylist had no reason to decline it.

He created a number of memorable body designs while working at Hayes, chief among them was the striking Cord L-29 coupe that won him numerous awards during the 1930s Concours season*. The car and its owner, Countess de Sakhnoffsky, won Grand Prix (1st prize) at the 1930 Monte Carlo (Monaco) and Paris Concours d'Elegance as well as the coveted Grand Prix d'Honneur (best in show) at Beaulieu.

(*Exactly which shows the car was entered in remains unknown - at the time Concours were held in Beaulieu (Uk.); Berlin (De.); Biarritz (Fr.); Bologne (Fr.); Cannes (Fr.); Monte Carlo (Monaco); Nice (Fr.); Paris (Fr.)and Villa d’Este (It.).

The car was featured in the May 1930 issue of Autobody:

“Designer's Personal Car Wins Riviera Prizes

“The coupe on Cord chassis, shown in the accompanying engravings, was designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky for his personal use. After sundry vicissitudes en route, it was exhibited by him at the Concours d'Elégance at Monte Carlo and Beaulieu, win- fling a grand prix in its category at the former resort and the grand prix d'honneur at Beaulieu. The car is noteworthy for its departure from conventional design, sweeping lines being used wherever practical instead of rectangular effects. It is finished entirely in Mountain Mist Blue, with body striping in gold and striping on the wheel disks in gold and Cicero Blue. The top is a special Eagle-Ottawa tan leather, with the modish fabric grain: the beading is covered with blue leather matching the body. Exposed metalwork, including the radiator shutters, is chromium plated. The bonnet is unusual in having two long horizontal trap doors on the sides, set in an embossed panel which extends onto the cowl.

“The exterior of this car, its curved moldings and sill, the long arrowhead panel on the bonnet and cowl, the sweep of the fenders, the special door handles and the treatment of the rear, give it originality and distinction, without being bizarre. The car has no running boards nor steps, it being practical to step directly onto the floor. The wide front fenders are swept into the side valances which have embossed ribs and a courtesy light.

“The rear fenders are specially shaped, being carried down past the front center of the wheel, this reverse curve emphasizing the streamline effects of the body; the rear fenders are not terminated in the usual manner, but are swept over and adjoin the rear apron, being separated only by the customary leather beading. The back panel extends slightly over the fuel-tank apron and is decorated by chromium-plated protection strips and a central raised panel that comes to a point at the tail: striping carried down over the fuel-tank apron gives a longer effect to this feature, abetted by the repetition of the chromium-plated beading. The steps to the deck seat are of special shape, harmonizing with the swept lines of the car. An aluminum casting forms a reveal around the hack window and has a chromium-plated edge to correspond to the other metal trim.

“The sweep of the door-window reveals will be noted in the lower right-hand view, also the unusual length of the wedge-shaped door handles which are set at an angle corresponding to the sweep of the moldings at that point and give piquancy to the curved motifs of the car. Notwithstanding the low overall height, this coupe has the usual 37-in, clearance above the seat cushion.

“The interior of the car is marked by numerous special features executed with a restraint that keeps the car conservative, although distinctive, in character. The trim fabric is a Wiese gray-blue broadcloth, done in the plain-stretched style and piped with gold leather. There is a center folding armrest and on the floor an extra thick carpet in a matching blue. The special interior fitments, executed by Dura, are in dull bronze; an unusual feature is that the door and regulator handles are straight instead of being curved. The instrument board is especially designed and finished with mahogany grain to match the mahogany door trim; the control buttons are arranged in two arcs on either side of the center, this rather modernistic effect being subdued by the fact that these knobs are of dull bronze. One of the knobs controls the radio-receiving set, the loud speaker of which is set in the center of the floor, with a protecting grid. Another bronze knob, when pulled out, reveals an ash receiver, consisting of a slotted tube which may he emptied by turning completely over or by removal, being fastened with a bayonet joint. There are four cowl ventilators, two on the top and one on each side. The spare-tire covers are of Burbank, piped with blue leather, matching the body color, the openings being zipper controlled.”

Caption 1:

“A special Cord coupe, designed for the ‘author’ by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and exhibited by him at two of the recent Riviera Elegance contests, winning a ‘grand prix’ in its category at Monte Carlo and the ‘grand prix d'honneur’ at Beaulieu. As the car was intended for the designer's personal use, he was free to differentiate it from conventional designs and used sweeping lines wherever possible, in place of rectangular effects. The interesting rear treatment and sweep of the door-window reveals are more clearly shown in the view below. The car was finished entirely in Mountain Mist Blue, with gold striping. The top is a special Eagle-Ottawa tan leather, with fabric grain; the decorative welt across the back is covered with blue leather, matching the body color. This entirely special job was completed by Hayes in 2 ½ months.”

Caption 2:

“The designer and his special Cord coupe which, after sundry vicissitudes en route, was exhibited with success in the Riviera Elegance contests. In this view will be noted the horizontal, hinged bonnet louvers set in an embossed panel that extends aft onto the cowl. The extreme lowness of the car will be appreciated by the fact that, the designer is able to rest his arm on the roof, although normal headroom is retained within. At the right is shown a closer view of the interesting treatment of the rear deck. This is marked by a central raised panel or molding which is swept to a point at the tail. Chromium-plated strips on the tail meet similar strips on the apron over the gasoline tank, tying in the design of both units. Deck-seat steps, bumpers and in fact, all elements of the rear have been considered in the design. Note the interesting heading on the top and the unusually narrow oval window.”

De Sakhnoffsky's Cord, which appears to the right with 'Ziegfield Girl' Marion Dodge posing next to it, was described in great detail in the July 5, 1930 issue of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:


"Grand Rapids, Mich., July "5—A mountain-mist blue body, entirely devoid of straight lines, mounted on a Cord front-drive chassis, this spring brought to America for the first time the Grand Prix of the annual Monte Carlo automobile style show, and added fame to its 28-year-old designer, Count Alex de Sakhnoffsky, art director of the Hayes Body Corporation.

"Winning Grand Prix awards at Monte Carlo, however, is nothing new for de Sakhnoffsky, despite his youth and his comparatively brief experience in designing motor cars. The 1930 award was his fifth, although it marked the first victory for an all-American product.

"Last year he took the highest honor with a Packard chassis and a European body. An English Rolls-Royce was presented with the prize in 1928, and Belgian Minervas were the class of the fields in 1927 and 1926.

"Count de Sakhnoffsky, who traces his family back to the fourteenth century, was born in Kieff, 'the mother of Russian cities.' He left his native haunts in 1920, rather than face conscription by the Reds, going to Switzerland where he studied engineering and drafting for three years.

"From Dresses to Cars

"From engineering he turned to designing dresses in Paris where his mother at present runs a dress salon. His father is dead. Later he became art director of Vandenplas of Brussels, leading European coach builders.

"He remained with the Belgian company five years when he sailed for America. He has been in the employ of the Hayes Body Corporation nearly two years. All his time now is devoted to the creating of artistic cars. As art-director of the Hayes concern he designed the Marmon, new Peerless and Little Austin bodies. The count also has designed a 24-passenger cabin plane by Sabca of Brussels.

"Believing that engineers rapidly are attaining perfection in the mechanical parts of the car, Count de Sakhnoffsky asserts the car buyer is paying more attention to the beautiful lines and color schemes. He pays little attention to body construction but says his part is purely artistic.

"The Prize Winner

"The Grand Prix Cord has attracted no little attention, not only in America but in France where the designer was forced to keep the windows raised and the doors locked to save the masterpiece from the curious crowds.

"While in Paris the swarm was so great he was forced four times to get new door handles. The car, striped with gold, is very long, its over-all length being 175 inches. But the sweep of its lines makes it seem even longer. The long hood overlaps the cowl seven inches'. Hood louvres are horizontal, narrow and long of the trap-door type. Even the door handles are set in such a way as to accentuate the sweep of the car's lines.

"There are no running boards, for the car is quite low and requires only, one step to the ground. Yet the car has a nine-inch clearance. But with its 137 1/2-inch wheelbase, its sweeping line, which seems to cling to the ground, and the 54-inch total height, Count de Sakhnoffsky's creation seems even lower than it actually is.

"In spite of the height of but four and a half feet, the interior offers 37 inches of headroom. The designer speaks of the car as the lowest in the world and also as the widest, the automobile having a 61-inch tread, said to be two inches wider than any car so far introduced.

"The upholstery and carpet are of rich, soft materials, the seat trimmed with old gold braid, matching the antique bronze of the interior hardware. A radio is concealed behind the seat with the loudspeaker in the floor. The radio controls are on the dash, as is specially designed ash receiver. The door frames are solid mahogany.

"The rear window is wide and elliptical, the glass lowering to permit conversation with those in the rumble seat. The seat itself is opened by the driver from the inside. Spare tires are mounted in fender wells and the tire covers are of special design, opening with zippers so they may be removed from the tires without soiling. The covers are light tan, matching the top.

"The wheels are of the wire spoke type, but the wire is covered entirely with a convex plate which blends in color and design with the rest of the product."

Recently sold for 2.4 million and produced in miniature (1:16 scale) by Danbury Mint in the late 1980s, it's popularly known today as the Cord L-29 Hayes Coupe. The car was later owned by industrial designer Brook Stevens who as a young man traveled to Chicago to meet the Count. A little over a decade ago the car won Best in Class, People's Choice, and Co-Chairman's Trophy at 1997's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

Although the 'Hayes Coupe' never saw series production, an elegant boat-tail speedster he designed for another one of Errett Lobban Cord's automobile holdings did. Based on a simple inverted hull, de Sakhnoffsky's Auburn speedster was produced in three series, the 8-115 in 1928, 8-120 in 1929, and the 8-125 in 1930.

Other Hayes projects that de Sakhnoffsky was involved include the 1930-1933 American Austin, the 1931-32 DeVaux, the 1929-1932 Marmon, 1929-1930 Roosevelt and the 1929-1932 Peerless. He is also thought to have designed a striking 5-passenger Convertible Victoria on a Marmon Sixteen chassis for Hayes President W. H. Hoagland (who also sat on the Nordyke-Marmon board). Coach building historian Hugo Pfau believes more than one Convertible Victoria was constructed, citing a photograph showing golf-star Bobby Jones taking delivery of his Marmon Sixteen Convertible Victoria from Jack Hendricks, Jr., manager of Marmon's Manhattan factory branch.

Although Marmon owned an adjoining body plant it was leased (one account says sold for $200,000) to Murray in 1926, with the hopes that an experienced body builder could provide them with better-built bodies at a lower cost. The arrangement continued into late 1928 when Murray's financial difficulties prompted Marmon to abandon ship. The factory and related body contracts were turned over to Hayes, whose brilliant new art director (de Sakhnoffsky) may have helped them seal the deal. Apparently Hayes contract with Marmon wasn't exclusive as the Grand Rapids-based body manufacturer is known to have constructed bodies for Peerless alongside bodies for Marmon and Roosevelt in the Indianapolis facility.

All three automobiles (1930-31 Marmon-Roosevelt Models 69, 79 and Big Eight and Peerless Standard 8, Master 8 and Custom 8) shared the same fenders, basic body dies and assembly fixtures, with slight variations being imparted by the use of secondary dies and trim. The Marmon featured larger moldings and a slightly more artistic treatment than the Peerless which imbued with a more uniform belt molding which included an odd panel above the molding and below the window.

With the onset of the Depression, manufacturers began sharing bodies to help reduce cost. In addition to the shared Marmon-Roosevelt and Peerless line, a different Hayes body shell and fender set made its appearance on the 1932 Marmon 8-125, 1932-34 Reo Flying Cloud 6S and 1933-34 Franklin Olympic.

Automobile customers rarely compared the actual bodies, and addressed their attention to a vehicle’s front end, which could be easily disguised using a different grill or front fenders. General Motors started doing it at the same time, and the practice continues today.

The following synopsis of de Sakhnoffsky presentation at the December 10, 1928 S.A.E conference appeared in the January 1929 issue of the SAE Journal:

"How Europeans View Our Cars

"Friendly and constructive criticism of American car design was made by the last speaker, Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, who has assumed direction of the newly created art department of the Haynes Body Corp. Being primarily an artist, he is concerned with creating new designs and does not take the trouble to see whether an idea is readily adaptable for production. For this reason, and because it is important to have the body and chassis designs blend into a harmonious ensemble, he believes it is desirable to have chassis designers and production engineers work in very close cooperation with the body designer. An advanced idea which the speaker advocated some time ago in Paris is that, in developing a new car design, the working out of the whole external and internal outline should be placed in the hands of "mechanical" artists, without interference by body engineers, so that every part of the car and its mechanism shall be artistic. Only when the general lines have been fixed should the body and mechanical engineers go into action to work out the mechanical details so that they fit into the visualized chassis and body.

"Large-scale production body designers, thinks Mr. Sakhnoffsky, should study the trends in custom-body building and follow them more closely in production. Although the present trend is to lengthen the hood and cowl as much as possible and to emphasize streamlining, almost all car builders in America nickel-plate the cowl bead and so break up the longitudinal effect by a bright transverse and vertical line.

"The Roosevelt was a handsome automobile, viewed from any vantage point, particularly in the optional side-mount configuration. It was the credible work of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, styling consultant to Hayes Body and Marmon, who gave it an athletic look. Reportedly he proposed, and promoted unsuccessfully, the placement of the cameo portrait on the radiator core, pendant to a necklace from the shell."

Hayes quickly set about building up their new star, naming its new 'Alsac' line of bodies (Al-Sak for Alexis Saknhoffsky) in his honor. The Hayes-Alsac line was introduced in a series of advertisements that appeared in the 1929-early 1930 automobile trades and featured curved bottom sills and through reveals (a window reveal which ignored the inter-window - aka B & C pillars) as seen on 1930-1932 Marmon and Peerless automobiles.

A Hayes advertisement included in the January 18, 1930 issue of Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record showed a line drawing of the Marmon 8-79 noting that:

"Already, such discerning manufacturers as Marmon and Peerless have adopted these Hayes-Alsic creations. Already, custom designers have recognized in this sound design a trend that bids Fair to win widespread popularity. Already, still other manufacturers have sensed the sales advantages this design makes possible. To an additional few progressive automobile manufacturers the creative talent of Hayes is still available. To those manufacturers and their engineers, consultation with Hayes designers and exhaustive investigation of Hayes Facilities should prove profitable."

Although de Sakhnoffsky doesn't mention her in his Classic Car articles, it is assumed that Countess Madeline (Parlongue) de Sakhnoffsky accompanied him when he first moved to the United States. She was most certainly here at the time of the 1930 US Census which lists the couple as residents of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In a 1933 interview he mentions her briefly, explaining that while in Belgium he met a girl who during the war had risked her life for her country in the intelligence service. She had a hatful of citations for her bravery – and also she had a pretty face and that indefinite something the stylist loved – "chic".

The April 16, 1931 issue of the Sheboygan Press included a picture of the new DeVeaux automobile which was accompanied by the following caption:

"Outstanding exterior characteristics of the new DeVaux are the distinctive V-type radiator and low, roomy body designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, European artist and master of coachcraft, winner of last year's Monte Carlo competition. A wide tread of 58 inches permits roomier passenger compartments in the body."

The May 31, 1931 Oakland Tribune included the following article which states that the de Sakhnoffsky-designed coachwork would be an integral part of the advertising scheme for the DeVaux:

"Body Builders Plan Campaign of Advertising

"GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May — W.W. Hoagland. president and general manager of the Hayes Body Corporation, today announced the appointment of James Houlihan, Inc., as advertising counsel of his organization. He also informed members of the executive staff that James Houlihan, who will personally supervise the account, would, in the future, be a member of the executive council as well as serving as advertising and merchandising counsel.

"No announcement was made, by Hoagland concerning the plan of campaign that had been presented and approved. It was said, however, that the copy theme was a tie-in with the quality construction of Hayes bodies and the appreciation of motorists for artistry of design. It is claimed that Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, chief designer of the Hayes Body Corporation, and the man who is responsible for the body lines of the De Vaux 6-75, will be featured in much of the national advertising that is placed by the company.

"As advertising counsel to De Vaux-Hall Motors Corporation, the Houlihan organization has played an important part in the creation and introduction of the De Vaux car. The introductory campaign was created and placed by Houlihan—the heavy advertising schedule including leading national weeklies and more than 3000 newspapers being placed from James Houlihan's offices."

He was also mentioned in press releases sent out by DeVaux-Hall, one of which was published verbatim in the June 7, 1931 Luddington (MI) News:

"Three Leaders Bring Out De Vaux Auto

"Norman DeVaux, the manufacturer; Col. Elbert J. Hall, the engineer; and Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, the artist—each a recognized leader in his field of endeavor, are the men who are responsible for the DeVaux automobile, product of DeVaux-Hall Motors corporation of Grand Rapids. Powered by the famous six-port, six-cylinder Hall motor, a creation of the internationally recognized authority on internal Combustion engines who won world-wide renown as co-designer of the Liberty motor, the DeVaux out-performs other cars in its price class.

"Because of its flexibility and the ease with which it is handled by women in traffic and on the highway, the DeVaux has won the approval of feminine motorists within a remarkably short time.

"In designing the body, Count de Sakhnoffsky has achieved the chic effect that is desired and appreciated by women everywhere. When Sakhnoffsky created the body lines for the DeVaux, he asked that his designs be executed by Hayes Body corporation, craftsmen of proved ability."

Although DeVaux advertisements stated that deSakhnoffsky had designed the cars coachwork, in reality the bodies he originally designed for the new car weren’t actually used. Instead, leftover Hayes-built Durant bodies were supplied to DeVaux with deSakhnoffsky-designed fenders, hood and grill to update them.

The DeVaux was built in a leased portion of Hayes huge Grand Rapids plant, and its bodies transported across a second floor bridge that ran over the street that separated the two buildings. DeVaux’s successor, Continental, continued to utilize various leftover Hayes-built bodies into late 1932.

De Sakhnoffsky left Hayes as soon as his two year contract was up and started taking on various free-lance assignments, one of his first projects being the design of a 15' metal runabout for the Mullins Mfg. Co. of Salem Ohio. The firm is best known today as the manufacturer of the diminutive 'Red Cap' travel trailer, but during the early thirties they were producing metal fishing boats under the Sea Eagle trade name. The March 12, 1931 issue of the Sheboygan Press included a description of their new de Sakhnoffsky-designed craft:

"New Model Of Motor Boat Is Displayed Here

"William F Schmitt and Son, 711-13 Center avenue, have taken over the agency in the Sheboygan territory of motor boat products of the Mullins Manufacturing corporation of Salem, Ohio. The Sea Eagle, which is featured in the line to be handled by the local representative, is being displayed in a private 'boat show' in the Hensel building, southwest corner of N. Seventh street and Center.

"The boat represents a beautiful piece of workmanship. Styled by Count Alex de Sakhnoffsky, five times winner of the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, the craft has a hull of steel, a 4.0 horse power Lycoming motor having a speed ability of over thirty miles an hour, and a fluted bottom feature that makes it easy to manipulate It has a fine quality of finish, equipment and instruments, and two upholstered seats having a capacity of five Three may be seated in the cockpit and two in the rear."

The Count and Countess were lucky to escape with their lives following a late May 1931 boating mishap. The May 28, 1931 Woodland Daily Democrat (California), reported on the heroic efforts of their local son:


"SAN FRANCISCO — Richard P. Hurst, son of a San Francisco family, is a candidate for a Carnegie medal, following his rescue of Count and Countess Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. Hurst and the Sakhnoffskys were cruising about Lake Higgins, Michigan, when their speedboat overturned and sunk a mile from shore. Hurst dived to the bottom, disengaged the motor and permitted the craft to rise to the surface. Then he discovered the Countess, apparently sinking for the last time. He dragged her to the overturned craft, and then helped the Count to clamber aboard. Hurst, former student at Hitchcock and Palo Alto military academies, is the son of F. H. and Mrs. Hurst, of 1435 Bay street. Six months ago he eloped with Miss Helen Houlihan, University of California co-ed."

The August 2, 1931 New York Times Motors and Motor Men column mentioned Auburn's hiring of de Sakhnoffsky as an outside consultant:

“Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky has been appointed counsel to the body design staff of the Auburn Automobile Company, according to Herbert Snow, vice-president in charge of engineering. For five years Count Sakhnoffsky was art director of the Van Den Plas Company, coach builders of Brussels, and during that time won five consecutive Grand Prix awards at Monte Carlo Elegance contests. He also won the Grand Prix at Bournemouth, England, for automobile body designs, and a special body designed by him for the Cord front drive car won the Grand Prix at Paris, Monte Carlo and Beaulieu in 1930.”

According to Griffith Borgeson, the well-known Cord historian, no vehicles resulted from the relationship:

"It should be noted in passing that, in August of '31, vice president in charge of engineering Herb Snow announced the addition of stylist Alexis de Sakhnoffsky as counsel to Auburn's body design staff. This no doubt was related to Sakhnoffsky's design of a striking coupe body for an L-29 chassis which he did for an independent body builder. We have been unable to identify any specific work done by him on Auburn's direct behalf."

Although no work was produced, de Sakhnoffsky's short tenure at Auburn provided him with one big benefit, Auburn successfully petitioned the Immigration Department to convert his status to one of a resident alien, which allowed him to stay in the country indefinitely. His change in status allowed him to pursue work as an independent stylist and during the next decade his freelance assignments made him a household name. Later in his career Sakhnoffsky worked with Auburn for a second time but the project was limited to illustrations for a 1935 Auburn ad campaign.

At about the same time (mid-1931) William Crapo Durant attempted to try and re-coup some of his stock market losses by building a small European –style car in an unused Lansing, Michigan factory. He decided upon the French-built Mathis and invited its manufacturer, Emile Mathis, to Detroit to see if a deal could be struck. The multilingual de Sakhnoffsky was hired to arrange a series of luncheons between the two men and to inject some humor into the discussions to help alleviate the language barrier. The meetings were memorable to de Sakhnoffsky, who fondly recalled them in his Classic Car articles:

"Monsieur Mathis was a highly opinionated individual, who came to America with the idea of -showing us a thing or two, and his feelings were very easily ruffled. He felt that his brain-child, an atrocious little vehicle with an over-sized stylized flame for the radiator cap ornament, had to be copied without any alteration. At the same time, smooth, soft-spoken veteran Durant knew that the car would not be acceptable here, even though the famous jeweler Cartier was responsible for the flame mascot. The situation came to an impasse, and I was retained as a combination interpreter-styling-moderator.

"I remember particularly one incident during a lunch at the old Olds Hotel. After a long session which resulted in a decision to build 'several samples of the US version of the Mathis car, he could hardly control his irritation, 'You Americans take such a long time to make a decision,' he cried. 'We do not work that way in France. We are straight shooters, we make one model and hit the goal. Viola!'

"I translated verbatim. The Americans did not like the remark, shook their heads and sharply questioned the French methods.

"Mathis realized that he may have gone a little too far and decided to temper his outburst with a little humor. 'All right,' he told me. 'Ask them, if they can shoot so straight why do they use rubber pads around their spittoons?'"

Needless to say, the meetings did not result in the building of an American Mathis. However, Emile Mathis' journey to Detroit laid the groundwork for a successful Continental joint venture with the Ford Motor Company. The firms joined forced in 1934 to produce the Matford, the Ford-engined successor to the Mathis, which was constructed in Mathis' Strasbourg factory from 1934-1940.

In January 1932, a little over three years to the day of his initial meeting with Packard Motor Co.'s Alvan Macauley, de Sakhnoffsky was hired by Alvan's son Edward as a styling consultant to Packard's styling department. The 3-month contract stipulated that de Sakhnoffsky would devote 2 days a week to Packard projects, at a salary of $800 per month. His role was to introduce newness to Packard styling, and to oversee the seamless integration of his own designs with that of the departing Ray Dietrich, who had recently moved on to Chrysler.

The result was de Sakhnoffsky's famous false hood, which was first seen on the 12-cylinder Packard 1108 Sport Phaeton introduced at the 1933 Century of Progress exhibition in Chicago. Additional de Sakhnoffsky touches include the slanted 'A'-pillar and the transfer of the spare tire from the fender-well to the rear of the car which won the 1933 best-in-show award at the Chicago Fair.

De Sakhnoffsky was not the only person working on a false or long hood treatment at the time, and historically the 1932 Chrysler Imperial was the first American production car to be fitted with the attractive feature. That car was the work of Le Baron's Ralph Roberts who, by his own admission, had 'borrowed' it from a design he saw at the 1931 Paris Salon.

During his short stint at Packard de Sakhnoffsky designed the very un-Packard like coachwork that graced Packard's secret (R&V) front-wheel-drive 12-cylinder prototype of 1932.

De Sakhnoffsky worked as a styling consultant for Studebaker at about the same time, although what projects he contributed to – if any – are currently unknown.

He also worked for Chrysler, helping to revamp the firm's exhibits at the 1934 Century of Progress in Chicago. Although early orders for the firm's new line of Airflow automobiles which debuted at the 1933 national auto shows, were strong, within a few months they had trickled to next to nothing and Chrysler pulled out all the stops in an effort to revive interest in the car.

Much of the interior of the Holabird and Root-designed structure were restyled by de Sakhnoffsky and Barney Oldfield and his 'Hell-Drivers' were hired to drive various Chryslers around an adjacent quarter-mile banked oval, the end of each show highlighted by barrel roll though a sandpit to demonstrate the durability of the firm's all-steel bodies.

Automotive Industries reported that:

"Each niche of the Chrysler fair building, designed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, was given up to major demonstrations of Chrysler car features from an engineering design view."

De Sakhnoffsky claimed to have been wiped out in the panic of 1933, but reports his income had returned to five-figures by the middle of 1934. A mid-summer 1933 visit to the West Coast was covered in the August 7, 1933 issue of the Oakland Tribune:


"Count Alexis de Sakhnoffskv is one member of the Russian nobility who finds the revolution did him good. He turns his ideas of beauty into cash by designing styles for automobiles, airplanes, refrigerators, motorboats and women's gowns.


"Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, whose father was a privy councilor to the Czar of Russia, and who fled his native land when a youth to become an 'engineering stylist' whose ideas of beauty find expressions in automobiles, refrigerators, motor boats, airplanes and women's clothes, thinks the Russian Revolution did him a lot of good.

"And he thinks the upheaval also was helpful to other of his class who fled from Russia the last of the Soviet.

"'It was the cry of Communism that the nobles were useless creatures wasting the wealth accumulated by the toilers.' Observed Count de Sakhnoffsky during a visit to Oakland today. 'But practically all the Russian refugees have carved out niches for themselves in commercial fields outside of Russia. They have proved their own worth.'


"The Count, who makes no use of his title unless Americans insist, thinks it a bit amusing that so many wealthy Americans women should be willing to trade money for 'noble' husbands. Take, for instance, the Princes M'divani; Serge, Alexis, and David, who have been marrying and divorcing American heiresses, movie stars and divas for some years.

"'In their native Georgia anybody who owns a thousand sheep can be a prince,' commented Count de Sakhnoffsky. 'When Georgia was annexed to Russia, the people of the little country who were helpful to the Czar were made princes and became attached to the court. They were looked down upon somewhat, however, because of their ignorant and half-savage customs.'

"'As regards the three M'divani brothers America hears so much about their father became a prince after they were born – and their name, translated from the original tongue means secretary.'


"The Count, who prefers to known as Alex, escaped from Russia in 1920, when he was 17, and made his way to Switzerland, where he studied engineering. Running out of money he went to Paris and in desperation began sketching gowns, and attempting to sell sketches to couturiers.

"'But a style designer can't get anywhere in Paris unless he can also cut and fit dresses,' said the Count. 'So I could get only 17 or 20 francs for a sketch, and even then didn't make a sale very often. So I turned to automobile designing.'

"Then he went to Belgium and met a girl who during the war had risked her life for her country in the intelligence service. She had a hatful of citations for her bravery – and also she had a pretty face and that indefinite something the stylist loves – 'chic'. So he married her – and even yet, after considerable years of matrimony, he designs her dresses and believes she does them credit.


"Nowadays Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky designs bodies and ornaments for some of America's finest automobiles. His automobile designs have five times in seven years won the international competition for elegance at Monte Carlo. He designs motorboat interiors, the 'outsides' of refrigerators, airplane interiors – and, for a side-line, women's gowns. His next job, he expects will be the designs of a streamline car for the new type of speed train now being planned by various railroads."

In the summer of 1933 de Sakhnoffsky had the good fortune of joining the staff of a new upscale 'Quarterly Magazine for Men', called Esquire. The well-funded Hearst publication appeared on the news-stands in October of 1933 and included a number of technical illustrations by de Sakhnoffsky who was eventually given a permanent position as its technical illustrator. The magazine's debut proved so popular, that its January 1934 issue marked its debut as a monthly. To make sure everyone was aware of that fact the following press release was published in Hearst's newspapers during the first week of 1934:


"With the exception of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Esquire's most widely known and violently discussed contributor, and one or two others, the array of artists and writers who marked the debut of Esquire, the magazine for men, has returned in toto for the second issue, which marks the debut of the magazine as a monthly publication.

"Fairbanks was to do an expose on Hollywood's male stars, but missed the mail boat from London with his manuscript, while others who attended the inception of ESQUIRE but will not be found in the current issue, have been replaced by such luminaries as Paul Morand, Andre Maurois, Emil Ludwig, Westbrook Pegler, Jack Dempsey and others.

"Esquire, incidentally, has been enlarged to 160 pages, a third more, than were contained in the first issue, and 40 of these are in full color. Ernest Hemingway again is well up in the list, this time with a Spanish letter that has to do with bullfights, stranded American writers and the country in general. Other writers of "non-fiction" '(for the contents may best be summarized in departments) are Paul Morand, who prepares the world for the coming of the cocktail. Ex-President of France, Alexander Millerand and Owen Johnson, who very nearly come to blows on 'Two Sides of France.'

"Frederick Van Ryn, who collaborated with Grand Duke Alexander on his much discussed memoirs that created enough interest to make a sequel necessary, writes about America and its congressmen. Fred C. Kelly, Edward M. Harrows, Louis Joseph Vance, Louis Golding and Pitts Sanborn, among others, write of subjects ranging from bridge and exclusive clubs to London, music and real estate.

"Fiction is represented by Thomas Burke, Andre Maurois, Morley Callaghan. Pierre Mills and others.

"Regular features include Gilbert, Seldes, who writes of radio; Burton Bascoe, of books; John V. A. Weaver of the stage; Stuart Rose on etiquette, and Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky on the Illusion of Speed.

"George Ade, Montague Glass, Irwin S. Cobb, Geoffrey Kerr, Robert Buckner and Dwight Fiske make up the humor category with respectively, a one-act play, a discussion of marriage, a tale of fishing, a portrait of a butler, honor among the French, and Fiske of course with his riotous rendition of 'Mrs. Pettibone.'

"Under the heading, 'Personalities' come Emil Ludwig with a sketch of Charlie Chaplin as the first of a series to include Hitler, Stalin and the Prince of Wales. John Dos Passos tells the story of 'Speedy' Taylor - high mogul of production. Editor Arnold Gingrich, whose 'Poor Man's Night Club,' a treatise on the 'Walkathon' in the first issue, aroused considerable comment, repeats with the 'Bedtime Story Teller'.

"Westbrook Pegler, Jack Dempsey and Bobby Jones head the sports department list. Joseph Auslander and Audrey Wurdemann remain the only two writers of verse. Auslander with 'Night Court,' morbid sequel to his 'Down at the Morgue'; Miss Wurdemann with 'The Court of Anger,' second of the seven deadly sins. Incidentally, Esquire's poetry department has merged since the first issue, Miss Wurdemann, who hails from Seattle, and Mr. Auslander, who writes from Manhattan, having been married during the past month.

"Cartoons in color by John Croth, E. Simms Campbell, Wm. Staig. Howard Baer and D. McKay make Esquire colorful."

January 1934 also marked the debut of the 1934 Nash, whose design was a joint project of de Sakhnoffsky and Budd, its production body supplier. His 'Speedstream Styling' extended from the front grill to the spats covering the real wheels, about which MoTor magazine commented:

"Shields for the rear wheels, optional at small extra cost, constitute an innovation which should become popular."

It didn't, but the car was generally well-received, as evidenced by the February 6, 1934 issue of the Wisconsin State Journal:

"Streamlining Seen Even in Dignified Car

"Nash Designer Adds Style to Staid Cars

"Count Alexis do Sakhnoffsky, Russian nobleman and internationally prominent designer of things mechanical from fountain pens and radios to the new 1934 Nash models, has in the February issue of Esquire presented to the automobile public eye a modern and advanced conception of stream lining and illusion of speed applied to types which for years past, have been anonymous with cumbersome dignity and slow speed.

"'A type of vehicle always associated with slow motion, a dowager occupant and an old, old driver, is the chauffeur driven town car', writes Sakhnoffsky. 'Not the misnamed close coupled sedan called town car by sorne sales manager ignoring the traditional names of bodies, but the good old square two-passenger car with no roof over the driver's head.'

"Tools In Running Board

"'Almost extinct in the U.S.A. where it is seldom encountered even in the largest cities, it is still considered a smart vehicle in Europe, and every year quite a few of them are shown at the Paris Salon. And it is entirely erroneous to consider it solely a dowager car, because a lot of the young continental people use them as part of their line of cars. Our problem will be in incorporating the latest streamline features into this slightly antiquated model.'

"'The details which 'make' the design include new funnel type louvers in the hood, a racing type compartment with a V windshield and both are out for the elbow. A new type running board which was originated by H.M. Coachbuilders Barker and Co. and having an airfoil surface completes the streamline effect. The practical nature of this running board is that it brings out a side door hinged at the bottom, giving access to a spacious tool compartment.'

"Victoria Goes Modern

"'The courtesy light is sunk into the top portion of the rear running board and is illuminated when the door is open. Finally an opera light with the owners own color combination is streamlined into the front partition. Its individual color will help to locate your car in the long stream of automobiles at the Opera entrance.'

"'Another type of body apparently derived from one more old timer is fast becoming the most fashionable type of vehicle on the continent, but as yet is practically unknown here. The Victoria top which makes it so distinctive is a modernized version of a collapsible top widely used in the horse-drawn carriage days. When folded it is stowed away flush with the sides into a compartment back of the rear seats. The advantage to shit type of body is that an extension can be quickly fastened to the front of the top, joining it to the windshield. By winding up the door windows you obtain a regular five-passenger Victoria.'"

In an interview with stylist/historian Dave G. Holls, industrial designer (and one-time Nash stylist) Don Mortrude provided insight into the problems de Sakhnoffsky presented to Nash's body engineer, Nils Erik Wahlberg:

"Alex Sakhnoffsky came in and tried to woo Wahlberg. Sakhnoffsky was in there making drawings for Nash long before we came into the picture. He made all kinds of fancy drawings right there in front of Wahlberg and Wahlberg's eyes were bugging. Alex was just giving him the old Sakhnoffsky show. And then when Nash tried to build his stuff from just perspective illustrations—pencil sketches on black paper—why they had one helluva time trying to transpose those designs into reality."

Although Wahlberg and company where happy so see de Sakhnoffsky leave, the designs he created provided some much-needed traffic into Nash's showrooms, as well as an occasional mention in the national press as evidenced by the following item that was included in the April 29, 1934 issue of the Wisconsin State Journal:

"Nash Designer Sees Trend

"Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, Russian royalist and designer of the new 1934 Nash, gives, in the May issue of Esquire magazine, an insight into just what the trend in automobile streamlining tends to be in the very near future.

"Appealing directly to the modern Nomad, Sakhnoffsky pictures his conception of a highway cruiser formed by linking together a medium powered coupe and a palatial trailer. The vehicle combines the luxury of Pullman comfort but with total disregard for time-tables, and is large enough to accommodate a dozen people comfortably. Book-shelves, leather trimmed walls, serving as a protection from occasional bumps, radio, bright chrome window mouldings, a long rear light, and a large modern clock, are the useful and decorative details.

"An optional convenience is a complete bar which occupies the front end of the trailer and boasts of flat, square bottles fitting snugly into labeled compartments, a row of square decanters, and double beer taps.

Parabolic fenders coupled with rear wheel shields serve to unify car and trailer, an effect that is emphasized by the V-windshields and matching color treatment."

The Vollrath Co., a Sheboygan, Wisconsin-based cookware manufacturer, was another client of de Sakhnoffsky's at the time, his name being included in the firm's display advertisements as follows:

"The striking, modem, streamline beauty of "Kook King" Ware is the achievement of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a designer of international fame. Flavor Seal Rim on pots, pans and sauce pots retain the valuable food vitamins. Hollowsteel lifters on enameled covers, side grips on pots and pans, handles on sauce pans are shaped to fit the hand, and gas-welded —cannot come loose or burn. No grooves or crevices to catch water or grease. Many other distinctive features, and the famous Vollrath Quality guaranteed."

An article in the March 30, 1935 Twin Falls Daily News mentions his work with Vollrath:

"Pots 'N' Pans Go Streamline Under Count's Direction

"Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, famed engineering stylist, who turned away from a successful career in designing fashionable gowns to bring his ideas of streamline design to other fields, points to the kitchen as a place where women should receive the benefits of modern design.

"Count Sakhnoffsky, whose illustrations in Esquire magazine have gained wide recognition for the streamline design he fosters, has applied his ideas of style with notable success to such varied products as suspenders, automobiles, airplanes, women's dresses and foundation garments. It is his favorite contention that pots and pans should have the same sweeping beauty of design and illusion of speed that a woman appreciates in her automobile. To this end he already has designed an electric iron which looks forever as if it were about to take off on a speed night about the room. He also has drawn up plans for teakettles and other kitchen ware which are as handsome and practical as they are radical. Count Sakhnoffsky points out that the same elements of beauty and harmony of line which a woman instinctively seeks in her gowns, are just as important in her refrigerator and can contribute as much to her sub-conscious comfort."

Hearst had de Sakhnoffsky contribute items for its newspaper chain, an example - which was syndicated by Hearst in July of 1934 - follows:

"Next: Streamlined Humans

"By Madelin Blitzstein, Everyweek Magazine (a fictitious Hearst periodical)

"Since the Great God of our modern era is speed and ever greater speed, the result on every hand is what we call streamlining. Look at our most rapid automobiles, our swiftest trains, our most mercurial aeroplanes, our fleetest motorboats. All the very newest models suggest speed with ever-increasing emphasis, and succeed in giving the illusion of velocity even when they are standing still. But when we face ourselves in the mirror or look at each other, what do we find?

"The same old-fashioned body, head and limbs, the same ears that stick out like handles on a sugar bowl, the same protruding; nose that offers severe wind resistance, hair, that occurs in the wrong places and interferes with the best principles of design, coloring that is often diametrically opposed to the fundamentals of artistic ornament.

"And now an internationally famous engineering stylist steps forward with a twinkle in his eye to present a plan for bringing the human body up-to-date on the streamline principles which he has applied with phenomenal success to a host of inanimate objects. Look as if you, too, are going places and doing things in a speedy, 1934 way - that is the advice of tall, slender, Slavic Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky.

"Why, he asks, shouldn't men and women have their cars clipped to a torpedo raciness, get their trunks wind-curved, be equipped with a set of toe-less, graceful feet and possess a filtering device which will give them pure rather than germ-laden air?

"Not only has the count, who is to become an American citizen in a year and a half, and prefers to be called just plain Mister or, better yet, Alex, been thinking about what streamlined humans should look like. He has gone even further. He has put to paper his talented pen, from which have come designs for streamlined radios and refrigerators, and drawn concrete examples of the ideal form toward which he feels genuine moderns should be striving.

"Count Sakhnoffsky, though only 32, has already had an amazingly crowded and active career since his boyhood in Kiev, in southern Russia. When the war broke out, the count was too young to fight, but in 1920 he fought with the White Russian Army against the Bolsheviks.

"That same year he fled, with his mother and sisters, to Marseilles, and a little later he went to the Engineering School of the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland. It was there that the count was first inspired with the streamline idea. After three years of school he went to Paris, and before long he was working at the Vanden Plas auto plant in Brussels.

"Soon enough the young engineer's talent brought him the admiration of his superiors; he was asked to write for French and American trade magazines on the future shapes which automobiles would take; he made a mottled aluminum sports car for big-game hunting by order of the Prince de Ligne; and he advanced to the post of art director of the firm in a very short time.

"In that position he made designs for Rolls-Royce, Minerva, Hispano-Suiza and Bentley cars. In 1928 he came to the United States, and in 1930 an automobile of his design, the Cord, took first place at the same Monte Carlo competition.

"Since then the count has been hopping from place to place and object to object, putting his inimitable streamline touch on frying pans, tea pots, motorboats, aeroplanes, haberdashery, cigar lighters, jewelry and ice-boxes. But he thinks the most fascinating idea upon which he spends much thought is the possibility of streamlining human beings.

"'Perhaps people, will call me crazy,' said the count, 'but they will have to admit that I have plenty of imagination.'

"'Everyone will agree with me that the faster, accelerated tempo in which we work and play, eat and sleep, travel and fly today, needs and requires snappier reactions and simpler shapes.'

"'In the midst of all this advance, man remains the same as he always was. He is lamentably old-fashioned and I think it is time he were changed. Don't think for a minute that I advocate the robots visualized by cubists. Far from it. Nor do I hanker for anything bizarre or freakish.'

"'But I do think that a little foolproof functioning would go a long way. When a mechanic tears a motor apart, and sees what's inside, he often says to himself: 'I would not have put it together that way. I would have put the valves further apart and the spark plugs in a different place.'

"'When a surgeon opens a body, doesn't he often think to himself: "Some support should have been put under this floating kidney. Why was this appendix ever included?" That is the attitude with which I approach the old-fashioned, human body.'

"'I think it would be fine if we could make the air we breathe pass through some filtering apparatus before it reaches our lungs. Everyone knows that an automobile motor is fed with gas, oil, water and air scientifically purified.'

"'And yet we breathe microbes, pollens and other irritating and harmful substances. Something should be done about this.'

"'But health is not the only angle. If you think of the enormous number of people who patronize plastic surgeons and the depilatory industry, you will easily see how far from perfect we think we are. Why, people first realized this imperfection of the human body when they invented clothes.'

"'And now I say fearlessly that we are not 'up-to-date models. We need redesigning.'

"'Look at the feet. Toes . . . ghastly! I should lop off those abominations and streamline the feet so that there would be no left and right and shoes would be interchangeable.'

"'Is there anything more ugly than an ear? Why, they tape back the ears of Hollywood Adonises when they are engaged in the business of emoting. Ears should look more like racing car fenders if they are to add beauty and design to the human body.'

"'Our cumbersome body is an anachronism. We must trim it; push it in here and pull it out there until the whole has the appearance of being caressed into shape by a gentle breeze. The nose as well as the ears must be brought into the proper line, to look right.'

"'Then there is the matter of decoration. Coloring is often used effectively on bodies today, but. There are insufficient highlights. To produce good highlights, hair can be used decoratively. At present, hair is used without much method. It should be used only as ac cents like lipstick instead of profusely as it is now used on the human body.'

"'I favor the organization of a great committee or world-wide conference, to be located in the United States, the most advanced-country in the world today. To this conference, each country should send two delegates, one a distinguished surgeon, the other a famous artist.'

"'The chairman of the conference will say to the delegates: Let your imagination run loose. Suppose there are no barriers to the execution of your ideal. Don't drift too far. Start from the existing model which we urge you to improve.'

"'IMMEDIATELY suggestions will pour in. The committee will then have the job of picking out the best of all, combining them into a perfect human being, building it in tour dimensions properly described so as to avoid misinterpretations, copyrighting it for use on the Planet Earth only, other planets to pay royalty if wanted, and conveying it in a specially-built apparatus to the special heaven where man was designed so mysteriously, centuries ago.'

"'I know that my ideas on beauty and design are not the ultimate. But seriously I want to start the ball rolling in the interests of humanity, for I do feel that the old-fashioned human body can be made up-to-date by application of the principles of streamlining.'

"Count Sakhnoffsky believes that streamlining is not just a fashion nor a short-lived decorative scheme but something that, represents the requirements of the age we live in. He calls himself an engineering stylist for he believes that title is the modern equivalent of industrial designer.

"'In former days color was necessary for design, but today we redesign the object itself by developing new shapes,' the count points out, in support of his thesis."

It is estimated that de Sakhnoffsky divorced his first wife Madeleine, sometime during late 1934, the October 5, 1934 New York Times reporting on a trip to the Continent by the Count and Countess:

“Ocean Travelers

"The North German Lloyd liner Europa will sail tonight for Channel ports and Bremen. Among her passengers will be: … Mr. & Mrs. Alexis de Sakhnoffsky …"

As to which 'Countess' he was sailing with – Number 1 or number 2 - is a matter of conjecture, his marriage to number 2, the former Phoebe Ethleene Frasier, is reported to have taken place in New York during 1935 after a "fifteen-month romance". Perhaps he was returning number 1 (Madeleine) to Europe after which he would pick up number 2 when he arrived back in New York. The November 25, 1934 issue of the Wisconsin State Journal claims he was still in Europe studying:

"Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, who is 'technical fashion editor' of Esquire and is now touring Europe to study new developments in stream line, offers some novel suggestions in predicting the streamlined car you may expect for Christmas – 1935.

"'A narrow radiator effect,' Sakhnoffsky writes, 'is achieved by running the decorative chrome strips in two different directions, the vertical strips making the radiator look much narrower than it actually is.'

"'The fenders are of a parabolic shape, streamlined into the side of the body. Strips of Chromium are used to give added protection, as well as to enhance the decorative value, of this expensive sheet metal effect.'"

De Sakhnoffsky's visit to the 1935 New York Automobile show was mentioned in the January 8, 1935 New York Times:

"PRODUCTION GAIN SEEN FOR AUTOS; Show Official Says Revived Public Interest Indicates Better Year Than 1934.

"The first full day at the automobile show yesterday brought capacity crowds to Grand Central Palace to view the 200 or more models of new cars displayed on three floors of the building. Before the doors opened at 10:30 A.M., more than 400 persons waited in two long lines at the Lexington Avenue entrance…

"It was Artist’s Day yesterday and a number of painters, illustrators and others in the profession visited the exposition. Among those listed by the show committee were Wallace Morgan, president of the Society of Illustrators, a member of the new Municipal Art Committee created by Mayor LaGuardia; Dean Cornwell, Bradshaw Crandell, C.D. Williams, Russell Patterson, Helen Dryden, Walter Dorwin Teague, Lynn Bogue Hunt, Peter Helck, McClelland Barclay, Ray Greenleaf, Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, Denys Wortman, Clayton Knight, Frank Godwin, Lejaren a Hiller, Ethel Plummer, Arthur William Brown, John La Gatta, Willard Fairchild and Ernest Lynn Stone."

Between 1929 and 1934 De Sakhnoffsky gave his address as Grand Rapids, which was followed by a 5-year residence in Philadelphia, the 1940 US Census providing a 106 N. State St., Chicago address. Ethleene's stated age is 31-yo, Alexis' 40-yo and his occupation auto designer.

In 1934 de Sakhnoffsky was hired as a styling consultant by the Gruen Watch Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio. They were about to introduce their Curvex watch and wanted the Count's input on the design of it dial and case. He had nothing to do with the revolutionary movement which was designed by Bienne, Switzerland's Emile Frey and dates to a patent he originally applied for in 1929. On April 26, 1932 he was awarded U.S. patent No. 1855952 which he assigned to Gruen. The Curvex claimed to be 'the world's first truly curved wrist watch' and was sold using the catchphrase 'your curved wrist deserves the world's only truly curved watch'.

Numerous men's and women's Curvex were produced during the coming decade and de Saknoffsky's original 1934 design served as the basis for the models introduced during the thirties which included the two most popular styles, the long, thin calibre 311 of 1935 and the 330 of 1937. Period ad copy mentioned the Count as follows:

"Styled by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, that genius of industrial design, built to exacting standards of Gruen and tested to split second life and death accuracy by Commander Frank Hawks - what more can money buy.

"Only the world-famous genius of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky combined with Gruen time-honored craftsmanship could produce a watch such as Curvex - uniting brilliant beauty and pocket-watch accuracy!"

E.L. Cord's advertising agency hired de Sakhnoffsky to illustrate the new 1935 Auburn line in a series of ads that appeared in the country's top-selling magazines during the year. Midway through 1935 he was hired as a styling consultant by the Kelvinator Corp., at that time the nation's largest manufacturer of refrigerators, the July 21, 1935 Paris News (TX) reporting:


"Famed Artist of Esquire Designs Kelvinators

"The same elements of beauty and harmony of line - which, women seek in gowns are the same which more and more are ruling the design of kitchen appliances according to Fred Caddel of the Arthur Caddel company, local Kelvinator dealer, who Saturday related the interesting fact that Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, famed engineering stylist, is consulting stylist of Kelvinator Corporation.

"County Sakhnoffsky, whose automobile illustrations in Esquire magazine have gained wide recognition of his streamline principles of design, has applied his ideas of style with notable success to such varied products as automobiles, airplanes, electric irons, women's dresses, foundation garments, suspenders and tea-kettles.

"It is his favorite contention that pots and pans – 'should have the same sweeping beauty of design that a woman appreciates in her gowns and her automobile. A woman should not have to experience a slowing down feeling when she walks into her kitchen, and. should have things around her that look as trim and speedy as the rest of her world'.

"'The appointment of Count Sakhnoffsky as engineering stylist for Kelvinator Corporation is another example of the sincere effort which Kelvinator always is making to keep its products ahead of the field in both appearance and performance,' Mr. Caddel said. He pointed out that the P35 Kelvinator models now on display at the local company's showroom represent the latest achievements in both cabinet design and technical performance. Sales records in Kelvinator showrooms all over the country further indicate that these new models in all probability will enable Kelvinator to establish, a new high sales record for 1935."

Earlier in the year he accepted a similar position with the White Motor Company of Cleveland, Ohio – the September 8, 1935 issue of the New York Times reporting:

"New White Trucks

"The White Motor Company last week announced a new series of trucks headed by the White 704, designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, industrial stylist, and said to be the first completely streamlined truck in the world. R.F. Black, president of the company, said that 500 orders for the new model were placed before it went into production and that he expected subsequent orders to double the production of the Cleveland plant in the remaining months of the year. Preparations are being made, he added, to produce from 15,000 to 20,000 units of the new model next year.

“The White 704 is powered by the six-cylinder, White-built Pep Head 270-inch engine with screwed-in valve seats; it has four-wheel booster hydraulic brakes and the chassis is built of heat treated steel. It is equipped with what is said to be the first automatic air-conditioned cab ever placed on a truck. It is in the 1½-2 ton field and the chassis is priced at $1,240, f.o.b. factory. Its chassis may be obtained with a standard body.

“Other new models in the line range from the small model 703 to the 709 A in the 3-4 ton field."

Designed in collaboration with White's Vicktor Schreckengost the new White line went on sale that fall, an October 10, 1935 display advertisement mentions his involvement:

"THE NEW COMPLETELY STREAMLINED Model 70S Deluxe Panel truck, powered by the famous White-built, six-cylinder Pep Head engine with screwed in Stellite valve seats, four-wheel booster-operated hydraulic brakes, and automatically air-conditioned cab. This track was styled exclusively for the White Motor Company by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, Internationally famed Industrial stylist."

The November 3, 1935 issue of the New York Times announced White's return to the New York Automobile Show after a 20-year hiatus:


"FOR the first time in twenty years, White trucks are being exhibited at the New York Automobile Show. The purpose is to display the company's streamlined trucks introduced a short time ago. They were designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, motor vehicle stylist and winner of the Grand Prix in Paris for six consecutive years.

"In addition to appearance and automatic air conditioning of the cab, emphasis has been placed on new safety features in the construction of the truck.

"These include oversize four-wheel hydraulic brakes, equipped with a new type of power booster; rugged, heat-treated frames and a White-designed and built engine said to have unusual responsiveness.

"Road tests, covering 100,000 miles in the mountains of Pennsylvania, were made before the new models were announced. Motion pictures of these tests are a featured of the exhibit at the show.

"More than 700 orders for the trucks were placed prior to the first announcement, it is reported by Robert F. Black, White president. H added that production has been doubled at the factory in Cleveland. Three shifts a day are being employed with payrolls at their highest point since 1929. Since the new models were first introduced, orders have been received from all forty-eight States and twenty-seven countries, it is said."

De Sakhnoffsky also styled White's companion Indiana-badged truck line starting with the 1937 model year.

De Sakhnoffsky's advertising work for Auburn during the year caused a slight kerfuffle when the existence of E.L. Cord's new front-wheel-drive Auburn was leaked by Louis M. Schneider, a McClure Newspaper syndicated columnist in his 'Financial Whirligig' column of November 13, 1935:

"The new Auburn Automobile offering is a creation of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. He's the man who designed the streamlined White Motor truck. And - he's the man who styled the buckles on the Pioneer Suspenders. Versatile, what?"

Although the vehicle in question, which debuted a month later as the Cord 810, looked as if it had been designed by Sakhnoffsky – it was actually the work of Gordon M. Beuhrig, E.L. Cord's brilliant young designer, although the firm never gave Buehrig credit for his work. Schneider issued a retraction in the following week's column (dated Nov. 20, 1935):


"Last week your correspondent stated that 'the new Auburn auto mobile offering is a creation of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky'. That isn't so. The model was created and designed by Gordon Miller Beuhig* of Auburn Ind. Patents for the design are owned by Cord Corporation."

(*should be Gordon Miller Buehrig)

The matter was finally put to rest by Automotive Daily News' Chris Sinsabaugh, who wrote in his November 30, 1935 column:

"Since Roy Faulkner sprung his sensational Cord front-drive at the New York Show it has been gossiped around that the body designing was an outside job: that is the work had been done by a consultant brought in for the occasion. Now I have it on the authority of Faulkner that the credit belongs to Gordon Buehrig, who has been in charge of designing work at Auburn for two years and who was with Duesenberg several years prior to this. The design is covered by design patents in Buehrig's name, which have been assigned to the Cord Corp."

On the same day (November 30, 1935), Sakhnoffsky sent the following wire to Buehrig:

"G. M. Buehrig, Director Design Department, Auburn Automobile Company

"Re letter: can assure you have never claimed any participation design nineteen thirty six Cord car – stop - Believe your design was the only refreshing note at the New York Show - stop - You are free to use this statement in any way you desire.

"Alexis de Sakhnoffsky"

On a similar note, de Sakhnoffsky is sometimes given credit for the design of the Burlington Route Zephyr streamliners. He was hired to draw renderings of the Zephyr for advertising purposes but had nothing to do with its design or engineering which was handled by a five-man team; Budd engineers Earl J. Ragsdale and Walter B. Dean, aeronautical engineer Albert Gardner Dean (Walter's brother), architect John Harbeson and industrial designer Paul Philippe Cret.

The confusion derives from several factors, a statement by the Count stating he was working on the design of a passenger train, the second a number of streamlined trains he drew for Esquire, and the third a set of playing cards issued by Burlington Route that feature a de Sakhnoffsky-penned rendering of a Zephyr in motion.

Although two year earlier, the count had expounded upon streamlined human beings, a February 26, 1936 Hearst Newspapers 'tidbit' shows a slight reversal of his earlier stance:

"There can be no such thing as streamlined wearing apparel. There are certain well defined lines beyond which we cannot go. — Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, authority on streamlined design."

Both White, de Sakhnoffsky, and the Bender Body Co. were kept busy during late 1935 and early 1936 readying the Cleveland truck manufacturer's exhibit at the upcoming Great Lakes Exposition. White and Bender were also pegged to supply the Exposition with people movers, which were constructed using a streamlined White tractor mated to a de Sakhnoffsky-designed, Bender-built, trailer bus.

Prior to the Great Lakes Exposition, de Sakhnoffsky had been involved in another well-known White Bender collaboration, a series of thirty-seven canvas-topped 15- to 19-passenger buses constructed for the Glacier Park Transport Co., the sole 'recognized transport concessioner' at Montana's Glacier National Park. The Count, F.W. Black (White's president) and Herman Bender were all credited with the design of the coaches, which were delivered between 1935 and 1937 and cost the Transport Co. a reported $5,000 each.

An August 1936 White press release included the following description of the Bender-built White Dream Coach, which was just one of many de Sakhnoffsky-styled Whites displayed at the Exposition which was held along the southern shore of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio from June 27 to October 4, 1936 and May 29 to September 6, 1937:

"Dream Coach Produced

"Rocket ships and stratospheres, popular symbols of transportation of the future, are not likely to be commonplace to the next generation. But a vehicle equally stimulating to the imagination has already been built to provide a glimpse into the future of highway travel and to test the public's reaction to a revolutionary type of bus.

"Known as the 'Dream Coach of 1950,' this amazing vehicle will carry bus riders of the future over their super-highways with greater safety, speed and comfort than any form of highway transportation so far developed.

"Several large national manufacturers cooperated in producing the Dream Coach for exhibition at the Great Lakes Exposition this summer. It was styled by the internationally noted authority on streamlining. Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, famous for his work on articulated trains, air transports, streamlined trucks, and other advanced forms of modern transportation.

"Among the Dream Coach's many unique features is a complete air conditioning plant, making it the world's first air conditioned coach, completely independent of outside weather conditions. The sheer novelty of this advance cannot be appreciated without actually experiencing a ride, in the Dream Coach. Strong winds, dust and rain are sealed outside the completely insulated body with its closed, double-glazed windows. Road noises, too, are completely eliminated. The passenger sees and feels himself being transported, but that is all. The accompanying noise of travel to which his cars have been so long accustomed, are completely lacking. A ride is a unique and unforgettable experience.

"True air conditioning involves the automatic control of temperature, humidity, circulation, and purity of the air. Lacking any one of these, air conditioning Is not complete. The problem of applying complete air conditioning even to buildings is of comparatively recent solution. Its difficulty is not to be compared with developing n lightweight, mobile unit suitable for a moving bus.

"Transportation authorities are enthusiasting about its possibilities for making the highway coach of tomorrow as comfortable in all kinds of weather as a modern air conditioned living room. With the perfection of super-highways, they see the last obstacle to perfectly comfortable highway transportation removed.

"In commenting on the styling of the Dream Coach its originator, Count Sakhnoffsky, points out that all restrictions imposed by practical considerations have been taken into account. Although unique in appearance, the Dream Coach's design is thoroughly practical. Its scientifically streamlined exterior offers a minimum of wind resistance in motion. This is important to fuel economy and smooth riding because in a vehicle as large as a bus this factor is many times greater than in a passenger car.

"A special type of reclining airplane seats was developed especially for the Dream Coach. The seat spacing is unusually large and both the seat backs and cushions arc of a new type of sponge rubber."

Souvenir postcards issued during the second year (1937) of the Great Lakes Exposition depict de Sakhnoffsky's Dream Coach and the recently constructed Labatt's streamlined tractor-trailer:

"Souvenir. Great Lakes Exposition. Cleveland. The World's Greatest exhibit of streamlined trucks and busses, styled by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, is presented by the White Motor Company, in the Automotive Building   at the Great Lakes Exposition. Included in the exhibit are: the first White Steam Car, loaned by the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; The Dream Coach of 1950-the world's first air-conditioned coach; the White12-cylinder "pancake" engine; and many other interesting and instructive mechanical exhibits."

"These pretty Yoemenettes, bedecked in ear muffs, are shown shivering as they christen the coolest spot in town, inside the air-cooled white "Dream Coach of 1950," which is part of the outstanding exhibit of the Great Lakes Exposition now running at Cleveland. The "Dream Coach," styled by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, is the feature attraction in the White Motor Company exhibit in the Exposition's Automotive Building. The air-cooling system, first ever placed in a motor coach, was developed by Kelvinator engineers."

The story of the Labatts streamliner, undoubtedly de Sakhnoffsky's best-known design, is an interesting one. Although most Canadian Provinces repealed Prohibition during the mid-twenties, Canadian brewers, vintners and distillers were prohibited from advertising their beverages in the Province of Ontario into the 1950s. During the 30s and 40s brightly colored aerodynamic delivery trucks were built for numerous Canadian alcoholic beverage manufacturers to provide them with some much-needed publicity.

The most outrageous of the bunch featured White chassis, Fruehauf trailers and Smith Bros. (of Toronto) coachwork, all designed by de Sakhnoffsky. In 1935 White received an order from the London, Ontario brewer John Labatt Ltd. to create an eye-catching show-piece for the 1936 CNE (Canadian National Exhibition - opened on August 28, 1936). White's London office presented the project to the firm's Cleveland-based designs studio who recommended Sakhnoffsky for the design portion of the project.

According to Labatt's, de Sakhnoffsky produced four streamlined tractor-trailers designs, whose introduction was to be stretched over the upcoming decade, each one more futuristic and streamlined than the previous.

The first, of which 4 examples were built, debuted in 1936. It featured a basically stock White Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. single axle tractor cab & chassis mated to a Fruehauf of Canada Ltd. single-axle drop-frame trailer chassis which bore aerodynamic Smith Bros. coachwork built using an ash and maple framework sheathed with hand-formed sheet-aluminum panels.

Toronto's Smith Bros. customized the tractor/cab, adding custom running boards that flowed into the rear fenders, whose distinctive spats matched the ones on the rear of the trailer. According to Labatts, the distinctive firm's red paint and striking gold graphics were applied in Labatt's own paint shop.

In a 1978 article Toronto-based Canadian transport historian Rolland Lewis Jerry (b.1924-d.2002) states that the Phildalephia-based de Saknoffsky "came to Canada in the mid-30s" but provides no further details.

In mid-1937 the second series, a more advanced design - which included a streamlined White model 812 cab mated to a matching Fruehauf drop-deck trailer - debuted. Twelve examples were constructed in Smith Bros. shop, all of which wore Labatt's red & gold color scheme, which was once again applied in Labatt's London, Ontario paint shop.

One of the first examples of the second series was readied in time for White to display it at the 1937 Great Lakes Exhibition after which it returned to Toronto where it was the star of the brewer's exhibit at the 1937 Canadian National Exhibition. It was later sent to the 1939 New York World's Fair where it was awarded 'Best Design'.

The June 20, 1937 Motors and Motor Men column of the New York Times reported on the increased efficiency of the de Sakhnoffsky-designed beer transporters:

"Tests made recently by transportation engineers for John Labatt, Ltd., brewers of London, Canada, proved that revolutionary style in truck design and for increased efficiency and low cost operation per unit. The Canadian Company placed an order with the White Motor Company for additional all-streamlined cab-over-engine tractor-trailer units, one of which is now on display at the Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland. They are to be radically styled by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. Two trucks, one streamlined and the other conventional but of the same model and carrying identical loads made a 125-mile run between Toronto and London. Heading into a fifteen-mile-an-hour west wind, the streamlined truck reached its destination using 9 per cent less gasoline, making the trip approximately ten miles per hour faster than its conventional mate."

The tractor and trailer combined were 37 feet long, 10 feet high, and eight feet wide. The body was made from aluminum sheets pinned over a frame made from hundreds of pieces of hard wood. The empty trucks weighed as much as 10 tons and had a trailer capacity of about 825 cubic feet. They could carry eight and a half tons of beer and were still capable of about 50 miles per hour.

The seldom-seen third version, two of which were constructed in 1939-1940 before the War halted such frivolous projects, featured even more sweeping curves added to the roof of the tractor and long tail fin added to the trailer which featured dark blue side panels not found on the postwar streamliners. Once again White furnished the cab, Fruehauf the trailer and Smith Brothers the coachwork.A surviving picture reveals a similarly styled straight van was also produced using the same paint scheme.

When hostilities ceased, the fourth version debuted, of which 10 examples were constructed during 1947 at a cost of $16,000 each. They were constructed using de Sakhnoffsky's 4th design, whose cab was radically different from the pre-War units. Photographs exist of stock White cabs towing post-war streamline trailers  and LaBatt itself doesn't state exactly how many of the post-war cabs were streamliners, so the exact number of streamline trailers and streamline cabs is currently open to debate.

The forward raked cab featured a curved windshield and side windows for great visibility when travelling forward or backing up, its roof gently arced from the top of the cab both downwards and rearwards leaving more distance between the cab and the trailer. Built on a White WA122 COE (cab-over-engine) single-axle chassis, the cabs of the postwar streamliners tilted from the rear to allow easy access to the motor for maintenance and repair. The drop-frame trailers' streamlined coachwork was slightly lower than before in order to match the all-new cabs.

The 1947 streamliners once again featured White cabs, Fruehauf trailers and Smith Bros. coachwork – all paint and gold-leaf lettering once again applied in Labatt's own garage paint shop – the trailers of the two 1939 versions bearing Labatt's blue and red paint scheme with gold leaf trim and lettering.

A 1948 issue of Canadian Transportation featured a small article describing the streamliners constructed in 1947:

"Another 'Streamliner' for John LaBatt, Ltd.

"The London, Ont. Brewing and bottling firm, long noted for operation of handsome, streamlined motor truck equipment on Ontario highways has added a fourth model to its fleet, designed like its predecessors, by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky.

"What is spoken of as the most modern transport on the road in Canada, a fourth design of freight automotive equipment has been added to the fleet of John LaBatt, Ltd., London, Ont. The most recent addition is a tractor-trailer (or, more properly, semitrailer) combination, and the design is, like that of the three forerunners, the work of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, designer with international reputation.

"LaBatt streamliners, which have always been the subject of much public and industrial comment both for their utility and their beauty, were introduced by the London breweries firm in 1936. All four designs which are now in use were drawn by Count de Sakhnoffsky at the same time, to allow for a steady progression in streamlining. These great sleek highway trucks are designed basically for hauling. They are practical equipment, but the lines which fit them for their work on the road also give them their beauty.

"The new streamliner has a White tractor, built by the White Motor Co. of Canada, Ltd., Montreal. The drop-frame trailer was constructed by Fruehauf Trailer Co. of Canada, Ltd., Weston, Ont. The body of the streamliner, cab and trailer, was supplied by Smith Bros. Motor Body Works, Toronto. It is an all-metal body of aluminum, over a wood framework. The aluminum reduces weight. All Labatt transportation equipment is painted in the company paint shop. The new streamliners are all red, with lettering and ornamentation in gold leaf. This latest model is minus the dark blue side panels which characterize the previous design.

"The new streamliner differs quite radically from the earlier model, particularly in the tractor. The front of the cab is more vertical and flatter in the latest model, but the most noticeable change is in the rear of the cab, which is curved in one smooth line from the top front, leaving greater distance between the cab and the trailer.

"The older cab had an almost flat top and an almost vertical back. The new cab has a curved windshield for better view, and curved side windows at the back for greater visibility in backing and turning. All cabs of the new streamliners tilt from the rear, to allow easy access to the motors.

"The trailer of the new streamliner is set lower than the trailer of the previous model, and is rounded on both upper and lower surfaces at both front and rear, rather than being rounded to a flat bottom surface. This makes the front and rear more similar, the front less snubbed and the rear less sloped. The trailer features a stainless steel 'dorsal fin', principally for ornamentation.

"All the new streamliners are equipped with an anti-jacknife device on the fifth wheel. The Labatt firm was the first in Canada to employ the anti-jacknife device, and many of the older models have been fitted with this equipment.

"Combination stop and directional arrow lights are located on both sides, front and rear of the new streamliner. The tractor-trailer is 36 ft. 10 in. long over all. The combination has wheelbase of 28 ft. 5 in., the wheelbase of the tractor alone being 121 in. Height over all is 9 ft. 8 in., and width over all, 8 ft. 5 in. The trailer length is 28 ft., and trailer capacity is approximately 825 cu. ft.

"The tractor-trailer is 36 ft. 10 in. long over all. The combination has wheelbase of 28 ft. 5 in., the wheelbase of the tractor alone being 121 in. Height over all, 8 ft. 5 in. The trailer length is 28 ft., and the trailer capacity is approximately 825 cu. ft. The trailer is the White model W.A. 122, and is powered with the 'Super Power' model 140A engine, which develops 125 h.p. and has piston displacement of 362 cu. in. The transmission, model 501B, provides five forward speeds. Westinghouse air brakes are employed, and the equipment includes air-operated windshield wipers and horn."

The June 11, 1949 issue of the London Free Press provided a look at Labatt Streamliner history:

"Variety of Changes Shown in Style of Transportation

"Labatt's modern streamlined fleet of transport vehicles – the finest fleet on the continent – had a humble beginning 36 years ago when a Ford truck was bought to supplement the horse-drawn vehicles in use by the Company. In 1917 a second Ford truck was bought and from then on the fleet began to take shape with the addition of various trucks, square single vans, tractor-trailer units, double hook-ups, diesels, tandems.

"In 1936 the first of four streamliners designed by internationally famous Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky made its appearance. Four of these sleek giants were built. In 1938 the second series, a more advanced design, appeared and 12 streamliners were built along this pattern. The 1939 streamliner with forward-sloping lines appeared but only two were built before the war began. Last year ten new streamliners were built at a cost of $16,500 each – unpainted. All paint and gold-leaf lettering is applied in LaBatt's own garage paint shop.

"It is interesting to note that all four streamline designs were drawn at the same time 12 years ago by Count Sakhnoffsky. In spite of the intervening years the streamliners are the most modern design of transport to be seen anywhere on the highways. Another interesting fact is that Labatt streamlined trucks had fenders sweeping back to the rear wheels and full windows in the back of the cab before these modern designs were ever used on passenger cars!"

The vehicles moved beer across Ontario until l955, when Labatt's sold off its Streamliner fleet and brought an end to an era.

A pair of streamliners survive, the first a complete 1937 version which is currently undergoing restoration, the second a totally restored 1947 version built using an original trailer and a re-created cab.

The 1937's owner, Campbell, California's Jeffrey W. Glenzer, reports:

"The one I am restoring is an original tractor and trailer built in 1937 one of twelve built and pretty much the only complete tractor and trailer still around….  I did start working on it in January 2010, I took a class with LAZZE metal shaping and did make some new fenders for the tractor and some aluminum panels for the trailer. I am gearing up to really get on it this summer, so I guess I’ll shoot for the 2013 (ATHS) show in Washington."

While Glenzer is utilizing his own funds to restore his 1937, Labatt's footed for the restoration of the 1947 unit which was finished in time for a planned debut at the 1986 Vancouver Expo. To commemorate the event Canada Post released a 10 and 90 cent commemorative stamp in 1986 that featured a side view of a 1947 streamliner.

The following caption accompanied a wire photo of a new White Model 706 tanker that was carried in many of the nation's papers on November 26, 1936:

"STREAMLINED trucks to bring new beauty to the highways. Compare the appearance of this new White tank truck, styled by Count Sakhnoffsky (right), with the ugly ducklings of the highways a few years ago. COUNT ALEXIS DE SAKHNOFFSKY; 'world-famed authority on streamlining, who styled the truck at the left, recently returned on the Hindenburg from Europe."

The Count must have spent a lot of time in Cleveland during 1936, as he also served as a styling consultant to the Murray-Ohio Mfg. Co., for whom he designed a series of bicycles, tricycles, pedal cars and toy trucks, as evidenced by the following text that appeared in a display ad for a mid-west department store chain dated November 26, 1936:

"Gamble's present the very newest streamlined bicycle, designed and styled by Count Alexis De Sakhnoffsky, today's leading engineer of modern streamlining. Count Sakhnoffsky has won prize for prize in Monte Carlo for his Deluxe, special automobile body designs. His work includes some of the most outstanding, modem designs, 'everything from men's clothing to motor cars. Gamble's offer his very newest creation in streamlined bicycles. So new, so different, and so modern that they will undoubtedly grasp the middle west by storm!"

The Count's bicycles were marketed under the Mercury brand, a display ad dating from September 29, 1937 is transcribed below:

"Murray Bicycles - Manufactured by Murray-Ohio Manufacturing Co. Styled by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky All "Mercury" Bicycles have a 19 inch frame—1 inch tubing with automatic electrically flash welded joints—"V" type drop forged crown—"V" type fenders —one-piece drop forged crank—all steel hook type rims —2 125x20 balloon tires with inner tubes—standard bicycle pedals—Troxel saddle— New Departure coaster brakes."

Another 1937 advertisement for Steelcraft, the trade-name assigned to Murray's pressed-steel toys and juvenile vehicles (aka pedal cars), proclaimed that:

"the artistic wizardry of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, the world's premier engineering stylist, is most evident in the Steelcraft Juvenile Automobile Line in 1937. Count de Sakhnoffsky was the winner of the Grand Prix at Monte Carlo for six consecutive years in the Elegance Contest for his automobile designs."

Known de Sakhnoffsky-designed pedal cars included the streamlined Super Charge Deluxe, the Chrysler Imperial Airflow, a slightly smaller Plymouth and a bright-red Pontiac Chief Auto Deluxe fire truck, complete with a hood-mounted bell and pull cord.

De Sakhnoffsky's work for White attracted the attention of the Budd Manufacturing Co., which was conveniently located in de Sakhnoffsky's hometown of Philadelphia, and during late 1936 and early 1937 he designed a series of fluted aluminum trailers for the firm. Although they weren't constructed right away, Budd resurrected his designs at the start of the Second World War when they were commissioned to build a series of tractor-trailer buses which were used to transport War Workers to and from work.

The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States, 1931-1941, gives 'Alex de Sakhnoffsky' an art department credit (special sets) on Hal Roach's 1937 feature film 'Topper' directed by Norman Z. McLeod, which starred Constance Bennett, Cary Grant, Roland Young and Billie Burke. His involvement with the project was mentioned in Louella Parsons' March 19, 1937 syndicated column:

"High Priced Favorites to Parade for Topper/ Show of Ultra Contraptions

"Gary Grant Cast Addition; Fancy Settings of DeLuxe Autos, Trains.

"Louella O. Parsons, Motion Picture Editor, Universal Service (Copyright, 1937, by Universal Service)

"Los Angeles, Cal.—(US)—Wowie! What a parade of box office names Hal Roach is gathering for "Topper" his most pretentious feature to date. Gary Grant, at the moment the most sought-after leading man in movies, has been signed to emote opposite Constance Bennett. Roland Young, expert farceur, Billie Burke, Hedda Hopper and Alan Mowbray, all high-priced favorites, complete the cast for Thorne Smith's comedy.

"And wait a minute—that's not the half of it. Hal is building a huge new sound stage and is bringing Alex de Sakhnoffsky, designer of trick airplanes, etc., for Esquire, here for special sets.

"A deluxe tourist train that is expected to give the railroad builders ideas and super-streamlined automobiles on the same order are being built by Mons. De Sakh—(Oh, just sneeze it!) Norman McLeod, the director, is so intrigued with it all I wouldn't be surprised to see him dashing about in one of those ultra, ultra motors."

In April 1937 the Count appeared on the nightly W.O.R. Variety Show, which was broadcast throughout the Metropolitan New York listening region, which included most of New Jersey, Western Connecticut and northeast Pennsylvania. His appearance was noted in the April 27, 1937 New York Times 'Today On The Radio' program guide:

"8:00 p.m. WOR – Variety Show: Streamlining – Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky; Key Men Quartet; Brussiloff Orchestra."

In a somewhat related item de Sakhnoffsky was hired by band leader Phil Spitalny to makeover some of his instruments. His All-Girl-Orchestra was immortalized in the Billy Wilder classic 'Some Like it Hot'.

Don O'Malley's syndicated 'New York Inside Out' column of June 22, 1937 reported on the unusual commission:

"TUNED UP - Everything is streamlined these days, and now Phil Spitalny has decided to carry out the modern motif in a field that has hardly been touched. Spitalny, who leads the all-girl orchestra, will give his musicians something really fancy to play with. Working with Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, the Industrial designer, Spitalny has worked out new fashions for musical instruments, three of which are completed. They've got a new piano that looks like a super super 16-cylinder special. The music rack and pedals are built-in, with the compact economy of the flowing line. The top of the piano doesn't lift up, but instead is sealed against dust. The music comes out from a series of vents which look like exhaust pipes.

"Their violin is less radical. But I disperse with the little curlicues which were typical of the early Italian violin makers art. Their prize, so far, is the drums. This is designed like a round Swiss cheese a la modern. Hope the drummer's enthusiasm doesn't make him punch holes in the new innovation."

De Sakhnoffsky designed advertisements for Revlon during the late 1930s, the July 20, 1937 New York Times Advertising News & Notes reporting:

"Doubles Magazine Budget

"The magazine advertising appropriation of Revlon Nail Polish is now double that of 1936. Copy is now running regularly in Woman’s Home Companion, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and Photoplay. Count Sakhnoffsky is doing the illustrations. H.B. Le Quatte, Inc. is the agency."

The November 6, 1937 issue of Automotive Industries reported the Count was now working with the Murray Corp of America:

"COUNT ALEXIS DE SAKHNOFFSKY, designer of automobiles and other industrial products, has been engaged as consulting stylist by the Murray Corp. of America, C. W. Avery, president of the corporation, announced. Count Sakhnoffsky's activities on behalf of the Murray Corporation will include research in the development of new lines for the motor car of the near future, as well as application of his decorative knowledge to the design of striking instrument boards and interiors."

His work for Murray may have been related to the 1939 announcement that de Sakhnoffsky had styled the coachwork for Powell Crosley's new self-named automobile, whose bodies were supplied by Murray.

While we're on the subject of diminutive automobiles, de Sakhnoffsky designed the coachwork for the 1938-41 Bantam which was a reinterpretation of the American Austin, a design he had worked on almost a decade earlier.

In 1936 Roy Evans purchased the assets of the bankrupt (in 1934) American Austin Co. and reorganized it as the American Bantam Car Co. Evans contacted de Sakhnoffsky, who had designed the bodies of the American Austin, to see if he was interested in designed the coachwork for its successor. An early Bantam press release noted that Sakhnoffsky only charged $300 for the work as the American Bantam Co. was living hand to mouth and that the design work only took 3 days.

During the mid-to-late thirties de Sakhnoffsky lived in Philadelphia and maintained some sort of office in Manhattan. He was periodically mentioned in the various metropolitan newspapers, once of which was the Advertising News column of the November 10, 1937 New York Times:

"Kay Kamen Ltd., will represent Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky in all commercial activities."

Two months later, January 23, 1938, his name appeared in the same paper's Society Page:

“PHILADELPHIA DANCE IS ATTENDED BY MANY; George Draper Lewises Among Hosts at Supper Party of Knights of Rhythm Club.

"Among the 355 guests of the Knights of Rhythm Supper Club in the Hotel Warwick ballroom tonight were Mr. and Mrs. George Draper Lewis of Chestnut Hill, with their daughter, Miss Betty Lewis, and her fiance, William R. Nichols of New York, and Mr. and Mrs. Luther Kellogg, also of New York. Count and Countess De Sakhnoffsky were guests of George Lamaze."

One month later, February 20, 1938, an art exhibit taking place at Manhattan's Decorator Club, included some of his work, the New York Times Reviewer’s Notebook reporting:

"'Art Takes to the Air' is the theme of the exhibition at the Decorators Club, where paintings by William Heaslip (a little on the illustrative side), dry-points by Jesse Harrison Mason, drawings of Plane Interiors by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, water-colors by Clayton Knight (including one made at a height of nearly five miles over the Andes) and a number of other works ranging from sketches for murals to the 'Wright' portfolio by Frank Lemmon, are on view (until Feb. 26)."

In late 1937 he was retained by the Emerson Radio & Phonograph Corp. to lend his streamlining expertise to their somewhat dated model range. The Advertising News column of the March 12, 1938 New York Times reported:

"Emerson Ads Feature New Model

"Emerson Radio and Phonograph Corporation is introducing a new radio model designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, industrial designer, who recently joined the Emerson staff. The new model is being featured in the company’s cooperative newspaper advertising with dealers in key markets throughout the country and will be promoted in Emerson’s national advertising, beginning in the Fall. Grady & Wagner, Inc. have the account."

The most desirable of his Emerson creations was the boldly-styled BD-197 which has become popularly known as the 'Mae West' to old radio collectors. Other de Sakhnoffsky designed models included the AX-211, AX-212 and AU-213 and the attractive bent-wood cabinets were supplied to Emerson by the Elias Ingraham Co. of Bristol, Connecticut, a firm that was better known as a clock manufacturer.

The Count was kept busy during 1937, his most interesting project being the design of a pair of jungle caravans for Attilio Gatti an Italian author, explorer and film-maker who travelled extensively through Africa in the first half of the 20th century.

The 1938 Fleetwheels trailers were towed behind a long wheelbase International tractor whose coachwork was designed by de Sakhnoffsky.

(FYI some sources erroneously list the constructor as Elkhart, Indiana's Shult Trailer Co. The firm did construct three trailers for Gatti, however, it was involved in 1947's Gatti-Hallicrafter African expedition, which toured the interior of British East-Africa, not his 1938 Tour of the Belgian Congo.)

The 28-foot stainless steel trailers were constructed in Fleetwheels-Coates' Bristol, Pennsylvania, factory, which also built the stylish bodies of the matching International 5th wheel tractors. A March 13, 1938 news story written by Lillian G. Genn, a syndicated writer and editor who worked for Colliers and Argosy, provided details of the trip and its vehicles:

"Through Africa in a Trailer - by Lillian G. Genn

"THE most amazing, luxurious caravan the world has ever seen sets out soon under Commander Attllio Gatti to open a tourist route in Africa. Only fifty years ago the great explorer, Stanley, was the first to penetrate the depths of Africa with what was deemed great heroism and valor. Today Commander Gatti will follow Stanley's trail with every comfort that civilization can offer. Stanley would have thought that

only the magic of Aladdin's lamp could have produced anything like this caravan.

"TO GIVE you an idea, the caravan is composed of three trailers, each twenty-five feet long and constructed of stainless steel. They are ultra-insulated against heat, humidity, insects and even the pollen of tropical flowers, which is often the cause of deadly fevers.

"One trailer contains the sleeping quarters of Gatti and his wife, with couches that can be turned into beds at night, a dressing table, bath and shower. Mrs. Gatti's cabin is decorated in dusty pink. Over the bed is a rolling door which opens into a receptacle. In the rear of the car, especially insulated for the preservation of dry foods, camera negatives and perishables. The bed has a night light in the form of an African idol.

The wardrobe is lined with chromium and is automatically lighted, and so constructed that no insects or dust can sneak in. The small dressing table is indirectly lighted. The walls are mirrored and there are shelves for books as well as plenty of drawer space. The rug on the floor is a beautiful shade of blue.

The bathroom is in black and coral, with a thermometer to show the temperature of the bathwater and a radio set. Gatti's room is done in light green and henna.

"The second trailer is a combination dining room and observation car decorated in French gray, brown and citron yellow. There are comfortable armchairs, a small bar and a radio, and receptacles for guns and cameras. In one corner is a library desk with a two-way radio. This allows for easy broadcasting between trailers within a radius of sixty miles. At the right of the desk is an instrument vault and at the left a metal relief map of the Belgian Congo.

"The ultra-modern kitchen is so compactly designed that Mrs. Gatti, by sitting on the stool in the center of the room, can easily reach the refrigerator, the sink, the stove, the oven, the door to the insulated receptacle, the table, lockers and drawers. It is in soft tones of gray and yellow.

"In the third car are the living quarters of the two camera men and a complete dark room and photographic laboratory. Each is pulled by a power car which forms one unit with the trailer and which has the electric-generating plant. There is also a truck with camp material and a station wagon, all in the same color scheme and lines.

"The trailers are air-conditioned and have indirect lighting. There are special electric fans which, when plugged into one of the outlets, make the voltage so high that any prowlers will be thrown away without being killed. The screens of the doors are electrified in such a way that as soon as an insect touches them it will be electrocuted.

"A novel feature is the periscope which has been installed in the dining car so that when Gatti and his guests are sitting down they can see the whole road in front of them for miles ahead. There is also a small concertina which is hidden when not in use. But it can be put between the doors of the two trailers, thus making it a self-contained apartment.

"These are the highlights of this luxurious caravan, executed with so much beauty and grace of line that is like a Park Avenue home on wheels….

"ON THE last expedition Gatti and his wife began to feel somewhat fed up with tent life. They got tired of packing and unpacking, of having things broken and never being able to have fresh, food. And they spent all their energies fighting the insects.

"'If we could only have a-trailer,' exclaimed Mrs. Gatti, 'things would be much easier!' 'Yes,' agreed Gatti. 'The insects wouldn't be able-to climb the-rubber.' 'We could-have fresh food, too,' said Mrs. Gatti. 'And we wouldn't have to pitch camp every day,' put in the commander.

"So an idea was born. As they both began to think about it, it occurred to them that if trailers were available and a good road, people who could afford the trip but would not put up with all the discomforts, would come to Africa to see its beauties.

"Commander Gatti told the idea to Belgian Government officials (and they were immediately interested in it. He was commissioned to make these trailers and put them on the road to see what modifications would be needed, to study all the itineraries in the Belgian Congo so that something extremely, attractive could be included in the trip.

"Gatti and his wife arrived in America nearly a year ago to begin work on the trailers. They tried several designers but could not get anyone who could execute them as they visualized them. It was difficult for them to explain the idea. Again and again the work was begun, and discarded. It looked as though they would not be able to get the type of trailer they wanted.

"Then Commander Gatti met Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, one of the foremost designers and stylists of America, who had designed the Burlington train. Gatti's idea excited his imagination, and he quickly went to work on the trailers.

"So at last Gatti's caravan came into being and is ready to be shipped to Africa. Gatti expects to spend a year making the survey. When everything is ready a dozen trailers will be built. A big firm will prepare a standard kit for men and women, so that one has only to write to receive a colonial, trunk containing everything he needs for the trip – from shorts to helmet, all packed and initialed."

An article in the April 12, 1938 New York Times confirms the trailers were built by Fleetwheels-Coates:

"'JUNGLE' TRAILERS EQUIPPED WITH BAR; Air-Conditioned Vehicles for Use in Congo Are Shown Here

"Two 'jungle yachts', equipped with all the comforts and conveniences of a modern apartment, were shown in a preview yesterday at the showrooms of the International Harvester Company at Eleventh Avenue and Forty-second Street.

“Designed for an expedition into the Belgian Congo, the two- 25-foot trailers are air-conditioned, have two bedrooms, a tiled bath, a combination living-room and library, and even a bar. One unit contains the two bedrooms with the bath in between and the other the living-room and kitchenette with refrigeration. Both are powered by tractors.

"The 'jungle yachts' were built by the Fleetwheels-Coates Corporation of Bristol, Pa., from designs by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. They will be used as base camps for the tenth expedition to Africa of Commander and Mrs. Attilio Gatti.

"Commander and Mrs. Gatti will start on the expedition April 30 to capture animals in Africa for zoological collections and to make a survey for the proposed opening of the Belgian Congo to tourist travel."

The Advertising News column of the October 21, 1938 New York Times announced the Count had hired an agent:

"Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, designer of motor cars, radios and other products, will enter merchandise design in men’s and women’s footwear and women’s accessories. He has appointed Samuel G. Krivit Company, Inc., as his representative."

Aircraft and watercraft were frequent subjects of his illustrations for Esquire and in early 1938 he served as a design consultant to the Yacht Sales & Service Co., of Oakland, California, the April 24, 1938 issue of the Oakland Tribune reporting:

"Boatbuilding Firm Establishes Plant Here to Serve Customers

"The various forms of boating around and about San Francisco Bay, Oakland's Outer Harbor has become the scene of a new industry, the Yacht Sales and Service Company. This company is featuring the building of stock and custom yachts, both power and sail, the power boats under the trade name 'Frost-Craft', and it also offers to coast yachtsmen a complete service in the design and construction of individual yachts and are also the builders of 'Sunset' class racing boats as the partnership of Morris P. Frost and William T. Cross in the yacht brokerage and insurance business in 1936. The company was incorporated under the present name in 1937, with Frost as president, Cross as vice-president, and Geoffrey H. James, secretary-treasurer.


"Boat yard operations were started at the "Outer Harbor location in August, 1937, with the erection of marine ways, a machine shop, a pattern shop and mill, two boat shops and a mold loft. The service facilities at the Berkeley Yacht Harbor were acquired in October, with shops and a completely stocked chandlery, for servicing the boats of the harbor.

"A long-distance, boat hauling service was inaugurated in January, with special equipment for the overland transporting of boats between all points in the United States. The three boats exhibited by the company at the recent Los Angeles boat show were transported with this equipment.

"The well-known stylist, Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, is responsible for the graceful lines of the exterior and the streamlining of the interior of 'Frost-Craft' custom models. His careful choice of the most adaptable materials serve to heighten the effects of beauty and motion, so that artistic streamlining has become a reality.

"James B. Dewitt, marine architect, is also a member of our staff, who has effected a notable compromise between racing lines and cruising accommodations, with a minimum sacrifice of the desirable characteristics of each. This is well emphasized in his creation of 'Sunset One-Design,' our featured racing cruiser."

While on the West Coast Sakhnoffsky was also commissioned to design a promotion brochure for a club aimed at the rich and famous in Hollywood, the Inner Circle. While the club never materialized due to the oncoming war, the brochure revealed a streamlined paradise of its own.

He did, however, have a hand in the design of a Hollywood nightspot that did get off the ground, the Earl Carroll Theatre, which was located at 6230 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Built in 1938 and located at 6230 Sunset Blvd (just east of Vine), the theatre was designed by architect Gordon B. Kauffman and its exterior graced by a 20-foot high neon silhouette of Earl Carroll's girlfriend Beryl Wallace.

De Sakhnoffsky assisted Kauffman with the design of the interiors where Carroll's girl-centric stage shows, a modern adaptation of a Florence Ziegfeld revue, took place. The 1,000-seat theatre boasted of an 80-foot wide stage equipped with a 60-foot wide revolving turntable, a revolving staircase, and three huge swings. from which various lovelies would rigged with three swings that could be lowered from the ceiling.

During the 30s Heywood-Wakefield Co. invited the nation's top modernist designers (de Sakhnoffsky, Leo Jiranek, Gilbert Rohde and Frank Lloyd Wright) to create new lines of furniture using the latest machinery, reinforcing a Bauhaus principle that attractive, well-made furniture could be made on a production line.

In 1938 de Sakhnoffsky was invited to design a special line of Heywood-Wakefield furniture for display at the 1939 World's Fair' House of Tomorrow, a project which was covered in great detail by George Herrick in the September 1939 issue of The Woodworker:

"New Furniture of Classic Simplicity Is All Streamlined By George Herrick.

"When four furniture manufacturers in co-operation – Heywood-Wakefield, Simmons Co., Red Lion Furniture Co. and Red Lion Table Co. - retained an industrial designer to create something new, they got what may prove to be a new trend in furniture, as described in this article.

"As an industrial designer, Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, who has done distinguished work in everything from men's apparel and jewelry to motor cars, refrigerators and radio cabinets, has brought a fresh point of view to furniture design. He is a proponent of what we call 'streamline'. Fine flow of line and proportion and close attention to the function of the object constitute his basic decoration without addition of non-essential ornament. It is the same basic principle that has entered so widely into the modern motor car and been approved by the buying public. But while the Sakhnoffsky-designed furniture has the simplicity and streamlining of the automobile body, it is by no stretch of the imagination an attempt to turn a bed into a commercial truck or a chest of drawers into a 12-cylinder streamlined juggernaut. The lines of each piece 'flow' instead of being tortured and twisted around acute corners interrupted at intervals by ornamental accretions that serve no purpose and mean nothing. Part of this streamlining was possible in practice because of the equipment of one of the manufacturers, Heywood-Wakefield. Chests of drawers in solid maple, for example, have bowed fronts on the drawers, with a 46-in. span. The plant of the Heywood-Wakefield company is one of the few in the country that can handle bends of this magnitude with success. The other wood is natural walnut veneer, the darker pieces shown in accompanying illustrations; the maple is wheat tone in finish. In the desire to secure an unusual finish, several methods were tried. Finally it was found that on the natural walnut best results were secured from merely filling and then waxing to bring out the grain. No stain was used and the result is a slight grayish cast that the designer finds highly desirable.

"A lengthy thesis might be written on Count de Sakhnoffsky's treatment of lines in any product, or place. He usually tries to carry the line seen by the eye, to as nearly a logical conclusion as possible, with a pleasant and soothing effect on the mind as a result. The accompanying illustrations indicate the smoothness resulting from this treatment that results in an almost complete absence of acute angles and corners. Even a right-angle turn is rounded so that the line flows instead of being suddenly arrested and starting off again at a tangent. Treatment of drawers is an example of swinging lines away into infinity, especially in the case of the vanity table. Even the legs are streamlined, with the edge of the piece extending and then turning at a slightly curved right-angle to form the foot or foundation. With all this, a quick glance at a room furnished with streamlined furniture gives an impression of classic simplicity rather than ultramodern. With all this attention to line and texture of furniture, Sakhnoffsky did not overlook function, a factor always given a prominent place in the considerations of the industrial designer. Regardless of the product, the designer today not only tries to make it more attractive in appearance, but more useful in its application.

"Count de Sakhnoffsky believes that furniture and home decoration should conform to the requirements and eccentricities of the occupant. The individual should not be forced to adjust his living and personal peculiarities to the furniture. Furthermore, furniture should be as efficient in its service to the owner as possible. All this is by way of explaining several departures in the furniture and the decoration done by Sakhnoffsky at the preliminary showing of the new designs in Bloomingdale's department store, New York. His cylindrical bookcase is a good example. Here is plenty of precedent in the revolving cases that once graced libraries of the 18th and 19th-century homes, but the modern version has been installed in the wall between two rooms. With a semi-circle projecting in the living-room on one side and the bed-room on the other side of the wall, occupants of either room may be served with the entire contents by revolving the shelves. An empty section at table level provides a console with frosted glass top illuminated from beneath.

"Here, the influence of an automobile body might be detected by the exercise of imagination, but in this case the design is of a piece of furniture that moves. The skirting at the base conceals the wheels, so that when it is rolled over the floor it appears to glide: at the same time the skirt projection provides a bumper. The small circular table in the cocktail lounge is a unit of fully curved lines. Functionally it has been improved by having the top set to revolve. In decorative treatment of this room the photograph indicates how curved lines have been carried out even to the window. A rectangular opening would have contributed a jarring note to an otherwise pleasing ensemble.

"The master bed-room in this 'Home of Tomorrow,' as it was termed by Bloomingdale, has the latest development in functional headboards for the beds. The headboard has been troubling designers of the modern school considerably. Its only function remaining was to stop the pillows from falling off, and as a result, various attempts have been made to combine in it other functions, such as storage space and shelves. The Sakhnoffsky version carries this trend forward.

(Captions follow)

"Lower Left — The cocktail lounge at the end of the dining-room Is both snug and functional; the small cocktail table has a revolving top; the perambulator or ' tea wagon' is fully streamlined, of natural walnut veneer. Above – This walnut desk is patterned on Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky's own desk, which he designed for his office in New York. Upper Right — Here, Count de Sakhnoffsky carried the ambition of every designer of furniture forward another step by combining more functions In the headboard."

The August 1939 issue of Popular Science also included illustrations of the aforementioned Bloomingdales installation:

"A legless dining-room table suspended from the ceiling by a internally lighted glass tube, a streamline desk with a radio, barometer, thermometer, and clock built into a desk-top dashboard, a circular wall bookcase that revolves to allow volumes to be reached from either bedroom or the living room – these are some of the outstanding features of a models apartment designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, well-known industrial designer. Set up for display in a New York City department store, the ultramodern apartment utilizes various new plastic materials, glass walls lighted from behind by fluorescent lamps, and a circular fireplace set in the wall between the dining and living rooms so that it may be seen from either."

The 1940 US Census lists the Sakhnoffskys (Ethleene & Alexis) at 106 N. State St., Chicago. She was 31, born in Missouri, he gives his age as 40, occupation auto designer.

During the previous year de Sakhnoffsky had approached Nash with an idea to create a Nash-based sport roadster along the same lines as the Packard-Darrin. Rather than start with an all-new body de Sakhnoffsky proposed modifying a standard Nash Ambassador Eight Convertible (whose design is attributed to Don Mortrude).

A prototype was constructed and shown to George Mason who agreed to manufacture a limited number of the coupes, which would be made available in a limited number of Metropolitan Nash distributors. It featured sports-car-style cut-down doors and a lowered split-screen windshield to which an equally cut-down convertible top was attached. As the cut-down doors were too short to contain a window regulator, side curtains were substituted and the exposed top edge of the door covered in padded leather. The suspension was lowered, the running boards and exterior chrome discarded, and the rear tires sheathed with spats.

The prototype Nash Special 4081 cabriolet was shown to Nash president George Mason who agreed to manufacture a limited number of the roadsters, which would be made available through most Metropolitan Nash distributors. Bodies were constructed at Seaman, shipped to Kenosha, and trimmed in blue, red or tan leather at the United Body Co. in Chicago. The admittedly attractive vehicles were considered too impractical and expensive by the buying public with a purported 11 of the reportedly $5,000 vehicles delivered during the 1940 model year.

According to Nash historians what little remained of the car's brightwork could be ordered in Duragold (a copper-based faux-gold finish), and at least one of the gold-finished cars was delivered to Prof. Andrew Primo of New Orleans, Louisiana. Dubbed the 'Golden Chariot' it was used to help sell war bonds during the Second World War - a period wire service photo shows an attached banner reading 'Kill a Nazi! Kill a Fascist! One Dime - One Bullet will kill a Jap!'

Although the de Sakhnoffsky roadster proved to be a sales disaster it provided Nash with some much needed publicity, the May 19, 1940 issue of the Oakland Tribune included the following announcement of its San Francisco debut:

(Caption:)"Limited edition, signed by the author, this new Nash sports car was signed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky to meet the demands of an exclusive market for a custom-built version of the lithe Nashes that have won so much popularity this year. The car is now on display at Pacific Nash Motor Company, Van Ness at Sutter, San Francisco

"Specially Built Nash On Display in S.F.

"A new custom-built Nash sports roadster, which Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, Internationally known motor car stylist, was especially commissioned to design, is being given its formal introduction to the motoring public this week by Nash Motors in several leading markets. The first model will be placed on display Monday at Pacific Nash Motor Company, Van Ness and Butter, San Francisco, and a general invitation has been issued to the Bay area public to view the new car by E. B. Zane, general manager.

"Glorifying by ultra-modern treatment the smooth, dynamic lines that have won the regular members of the 1940 Nash family a large share of their current popularity, the new "Limited Edition" Nash is believed to be the lowest of all American cars, standing less than 63 inches at the highest point. Lithe Nash streamlining has been accentuated, making the car look even longer than its rangy 207 inches.

"Conceived by Count Sakhnoffsky to meet an exclusive market, the six-passenger convertible is being offered as a very limited Nash, edition and represents the last word in swank automotive styling throughout. Doors are cut away, curved rakishly at the top, padded with a roll of top-grain leather that is colored in keeping with the color scheme of the car as a whole. Upholstery is of tan Wiese whipcord, faced along the front edge of the seat and at the shoulder of the seat with colored leather. Auxiliary seat is entirely in matching leather.

"Built on the standard Ambassador Eight chassis, the car is somewhat lighter and faster than the regular model. Equipped with Nash's cruising gear, or fourth speed forward, and automatic overtake, the car will travel between 95 and 100 m.p.h. Because engine speed is reduced by 30 per cent when the Nash fourth speed forward cuts in, tachometer, favorite instrument of European sportsmen, has been made a part of the standard equipment of the car."

On February 19, 1941 a syndicated column mentioned that the Count had partnered with Bob Cobb in the design of the serving trays and place settings that were to be used in the swanky new Brown Derby restaurant, which was just opening on Los Feliz Boulevard, Los Angeles.

The April 12, 1941 issue of the Brownsville Herald mentioned the Count stopped in town to change planes:


"Returning to Los Angeles from a business trip to Mexico. Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, of the American Electric Fusion corporation, arrived in Brownsville by Pan American plane Friday afternoon, and left for San Antonio."

His involvement with the American Electric Fusion Corp., a Chicago-based manufacturer of resistance welding equipment is currently unknown as was the reason for his trip to Mexico.

By this point in time, the nation's gossip columnists thought the Count sufficiently notorious to begin mentioning his marital problems. On February 18, 1941 one of the wire services transmitted a picture of the Countess with the following caption:

"Countess Ethleene Sakhnoffsky, above, is seeking separate maintenance of $1,000 a month from Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, magazine illustrator. In her suit being heard in Los Angeles, she charges cruelty."

Bad news travels fast, and the Count was briefly mentioned by Walter Winchell in his March 5, 1941 'On Broadway' column:

". . .The Mexican division Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky is arranging. She is a Powers pretty. . . "

One month later, April 9, 1941, the Associated Press provided more details:

"Russian Declared Partial To Blonde

"LOS ANGELES. April 9 (AP)— The American-born wife of Count Alexis do Sakhnoffsky, airplane, automobile and boat designer, charges that he left her three months ago for another woman, a 'buxom and voluptuous blonde'. The countess, suing for separate maintenance, asked $1,000 a month for support from the Russian-horn count, now a naturalized American. The count filed an answer resisting his wife's demands, but agreed to pay her $600 a month pending settlement of the suit."

Two months later an unnamed reporter for the American Weekly news syndicate wrote the following story of the Count's struggle with un-streamlined love, which appeared alongside wire photos of the Count and Countess in happier times (this version appeared in the June 1, 1941 edition of the San Antonio Light):

"Streamliner Count Alexis Struggle with Unstreamlined Love (distributed by American Weekly, Inc.)

"Designing Streamlined Refrigerators and Autos Was Perfectly All Right But When He Discovered the Streamlined Blonde His Unstreamlined Wife Rebelled and the Judge, After Getting All the Angles, Streamlines the Count's Bankroll to Fill Up Her Financial Curves

"I have found the perfect, streamlined, blonde and have discovered streamlined love." Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, alleged to have burst In upon his wife with this news, is an artist-engineer whose business is streamlining everything, from furniture to automobiles. It is a wife's business to encourage and applaud her husband's work but Countess Ethleene de Sakhnoffsky admits that she showed no enthusiasm.

"The Countess, though a charming brunette, knew she was neither blond nor streamlined and could not see any good news in the announcement for herself. So perhaps there was some justification for the impression the Count says she gave him of on unstreamlined refrigerator.

"Anyhow something so offended his artistic or engineering temperament that she says he slammed the front door on this comment; 'Of course you wouldn't understand. You American women are more rookies at love, choked with inhibitions.'

"Countess Ethleene, the former Phoebe Ethleene (Teddy) Frasier,' daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Darrell Frasier of Chicago, decided that after five years married life, it was high time to re-survey this thing called love.

"First she took a long look at a streamlined portrait of herself by her gifted husband. There was a strong' hint in it and she had not taken the hint but why should she, even if she could? He had streamlined her.

"We know that Claude Robert, the French author, had said: 'Streamlining is to the engineer, what strawberries are to cream. Everything today is streamlined from the human chassis to the eggbeater.'

"True, but her husband was also an artist and why couldn't he do like Rubens, the great Flemish painter. When he married Isabella Brant in 1600, she was a streamlined creature, a slim, graceful girl, with only immature traces of curves. As she grew older so did the curves. Rubens kept right on painting her as she was and-was so popular that his paintings made his wife's figure the style and envy of all others. Not many could 'eat themselves stylish' and therefore had to make up the deficiency with padding. That suggests what the noble Count should have done for his wife, instead of finding a streamlined blonde.

"From her portrait the Countess went to the kitchen of their Hollywood apartment, and somehow looked in the garbage can, she saw several scraps of a torn letter. A mixture of women's intuition and curiosity compelled her to gather them up, piece them together, and read the note.

"The letter was addressed to 'Dear Harmony' and seemed to refer to an advertisement which the lady had answered. It had an interesting confirmatory effect upon some vague suspicions she had held because, as the Countess later explained: 'My husband many times had broken our luncheon engagements — we long had been in the habit of lunching together. He would tell me he had to be with a business associate.'

"'Several times he overstayed the cocktail parties and was late arriving home for dinner. When I read that letter, I knew there had been justification for my suspicions because it was addressed to 'Dear Harmony,' and Alexis never called me 'Harmony'.

"So the Countess traced the ad and found that it had read: 'Companion wanted by continental gentleman with private means and open auto.'

"The Count admitted having placed the ad, and told the Countess that he had gotten about 100 answers to it. Later, in making his deposition, he admitted writing the Harmony letter, but said it never was mailed.

"At any rate, with this and some other evidence, the unstreamlined wife went to Attorney James B. Salem, who secured a divorce for her in the Superior Court of Los Angeles. There Justice Thomas C. Gould entered into the spirit of the filing, streamlining the Count's $30,000 a year income by ordering him to pay one quarter of it to the now ex-Countess.

"The following in part is the letter, which was introduced in evidence:

"'Dear Harmony:'

"'Your answer to my ad picked up yesterday. It frankly amused me, though you did not comply with my request for a photo. And since I enjoy people who amuse me here is my answer to your answer.'

"'I called myself Continental American because I was born and raised outside of American borders. Have traveled all my life, and get restless at the idea of having to stay somewhere longer than a year. Still I have lived In America 13 years and am a full-fledged U.S. citizen. Am delighted to be one, however without an over-emphasis on my patriotic feelings.'

"'All my life I hated bargains. When I want something badly, and it is within reach —why waste time in trying to get it cheaper, at a price? Besides I dislike to be obligated to people, so why look for a wealthy companion with a car, when I can supply both? Does that make me real?'

"'I have done many crazy things just to add a few new experiences to my roster, and am forever looking for color in life. You may be able to supply a colorful angle to Hollywood which I have missed. I never have been extremely wealthy but through my own ways of living always managed to own sport cars, expensive clothes, a yearly trip, to Europe, and always, made it profitable for an attractive companion who knew how to make romantic the satisfaction of our physical requirements. My checkered life, instead of making me cynical, made me dreadfully sentimental. Do you think I am suffering from introvertis?'

"'I prefer ash blondes and redheads, but have had many enjoyable moments with brunettes. Hate very short, very thin and muscular women.'

"'I am sorry I got your letter too late to call as you suggest.'

"'So send me a snapshot of yourself, H.H., if you care to have us get together. I always liked to have the opportunity of examining the image of the being with which I plan to spend some time.'

"The self – asserted sentimentalist having thus laid bare his innermost heart to Harmony, then mailed the letter, not in a letter box, but the garbage can, where his wife got the message and began to understand.

"The Count, son of a Russian sugar magnate, was born in Kiev, to a life of wealth and luxury but after the revolution found himself, like the other White Russians, an exile with empty pockets.

"Yet by combining his skill at engineering and painting, he was able to earn as high as $35,000 a year, making such motionless objects as refrigerators look as if they could be shot like a shell through space with a minimum of air resistance. Air resistance is not terribly important to such sheltered things, but his designs also reduced sales resistance. He streamlined automobiles both artistically and scientifically. Streamlining, by the way, is defined as 'a scientific principle based on the resistance of moving objects to wind pressure.'

"The present vogue was brought into mathematical terms by the Swiss family Bernoulli, who expressed it in the equation: P plus one half PV square equals Constant. While this means that streamlining is a constant principle, it does not mean that husbands devoted to streamlining are necessarily constant to their wives.

"Another scientific formula is that the attraction of a streamlined blonde upon a husband is in inverse ratio to the square of the distance between the bodies, especially if the wife is an increasing variable. Astronomers say that the moral of this formula is to keep all heavenly bodies several light years distant.

"The formula also proved that Lillian Harvey, famous as the modern European exponent of streamlining, could not have been the bright star that pulled the Count out of his matrimonial orbit, because she wasn't even in the country at the time. In fact, the blonde referred to by the Countess as having been so extolled by the Count, has never been named.

"'He only, told me he was in love with this woman and that she was blond and voluptuous,' she testified.

"The Count had also told her he intended going to Mexico with the blonde — an artist — to study Aztec art for ideas to incorporate in modem designing and, she said:

"'He told me he intended to live with her and work with her. He said I couldn't come along, but later said if I did come I would have to live apart from them. When I refused, he suggested I consult an attorney.'

"The Count naturally took into his marriage many Old World beliefs. Those concepts, upon which many an European woman must close on eye, could not totally be accepted by the Countess, also expensively reared but taught in the conservative American school that holds no brief for the average highly-bred European's view on marriage.

"When the artistic engineering stylist tried to streamline his Old World marriage concepts and make them fit into his marriage with the vivacious, St. Louis-born girl, he failed completely. In endeavoring to give his version of why the marriage collapsed, the Count told his wife's attorneys, James B. Salem and Vincent A. Marco:

"'She was reared in mid-Victorian manners by her grandmother (the late Mrs. Douglas Knox Frasier, prominent In San Francisco social circles) and this gave her a rather queer idea as to what marital life really is.'

"The Countess took exception to this remark, insisted her rearing by her parents was that of an average American girl of wealthy family, then added:

"'Perhaps European women of distinction would accept without comment his design for marriage. To me, however, I found it wrought only conflict. His ideas struck deeply against my American regard of marriage. I have always held marriage a sacred thing, a union not to be taken lightly. I tried to make a success of ours, but eventually it resulted in a conflict I no longer could bear.'

"Her husband, she asserted, switched his attitude toward her almost before the honeymoon was over. It was a rapid change from 'a, romantic lover to a husband who looked upon me as chattel, as property — as just something secondary in his life.'

"This contrasted sharply to his attitude during the fifteen-month romance, culminated with marriage in New York in 1935. Ethleene, a lovely black-haired girl, with dark, flashing eyes, gives the husband she has just fired, a fine reference as a fiancé, before, but not after taking. She said: 'Ours was a perfect romance. For those fifteen months, we rode the clouds of happiness. I was captivated by his graciousness, his capacity for good times, his gay mode of living.'

"'He was a 'Prince Charming' fresh from the pages of a story book. No girl could have been happier than he made me in those months. During his absences, I received nightly telephone calls from him. Every day he had flowers delivered to me — beautiful things, and always white ones. Roses and orchids.'

"After all this giant build-up came the wedding and a gay honeymoon in Europe where the first signs appeared that the perfect lover was not going to be quite as advertised. Her husband and his friends had alarmingly modernistic even futuristic ideas about marriage. The first time he forgot to come home, the Count seemed pained at her questioning and, she says, gave out this explanatory comment: 'You have to take love where you find it, don't you?'

"And now the Countess says: 'Can one really streamline anything as old as life itself?'"

A January 17, 1943 UPI news wire announced the divorce was finalized:

"Designer-artist Count Alex de Sakhnoffsky, now a major in Army Camouflage Service, 'found a 'very gay person' and wanted nothing further to do with his wife' Countess Ethleene testified in winning a divorce from the Russian nobleman."

Although his personal life was now better-known than his design work de Sakhnoffsky continued to produce illustrations for Esquire as well as a series of cover illustrations and articles for the Aeronautical monthly, Skyways - which debuted in early 1942.

He received his U.S. citizenship in 1939, proudly serving for the duration of the war in a number of posts, the first of which was for the U.S. Army Air Force Combat Intelligence Corps., stationed at Maxton Air Base, Laurinburg, North Carolina. As the war dragged on his quadrilingual talents got him transferred to Moscow, where he served as Chief Air Intelligence Officer and interpreter to U.S. Ambassador W. Averell Harriman.

His introduction to Skyways' readers follows:

"CAPTAIN de SAKHNOFFSKY of the United States Army Air Force has won considerable acclaim as an outstanding artist-designer. The former Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky says, 'I love to draw fast things'. His visionary conceptions of 'fast things' have not only inspired advanced airplane design but have also streamlined many practical every-day articles into new beauty."

An article from the January 1943 issue of Skyways included an article on the Transport of Tomorrow:

"Transport of Tomorrow by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky.

"A vision of the luxury liner of the future is as amazing to us as the swimming pool on the Queen Mary would be to Chris Columbus.

"A large plane is always dramatic by its size. As in the “Flivver” plane of tomorrow, pictured under the wing of the “Transport of the Future,” the emphasis of this luxury liner will not be on its general appearance or lines, but will be on its interior appointments and deluxe accommodation.  In the accompanying sketch of the 'Transport of Tomorrow,' note the “lines” which offer the extreme in streamlining, and also produce a picture of power. There is no doubt that this 'feeling' of power from the drawing actually must be in force in the four engines which provide the power plant of this flying skyliner.

"The streamlined airport limousines, parked alongside of the plane, permit a scale idea of the enormity of this plane of the future. With the use of the tricycle landing gear, wings of the modern planes are being moved further and further back. This sketch shows a rather extreme version of this trend. Practically unlimited visibility is obtained for the passengers and crew. The top sketch pictures the swimming pool and solarium. Walls of the solarium-pool section of the luxury liner are in padded leather. A swimming pool may not seem feasible – and yet Christopher Columbus probably would have shivered his timbers had someone suggested a pool in a ship.

"The bottom sketch shows a spot in the dining salon. Tables are of translucent frosted plastic and are arranged in a continuous built-in fashion. Many aviation enthusiasts may scoff at this idea of the plane of the future. However, there were those, too, who in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, would have scoffed at the idea of a 164,000 pound plane such as the B-19. There may be some question as to the amount of power needed to lift this super-plane…or maybe to lift just the landing gear… and there are those who insist this plane would be into a dive if it ever did get into the air… let such arguments fall where they may.

"Someday, somehow, someone will successfully design an airplane luxury liner which will meet many of the comfort and extra feature requirements that are incorporated in this one. These sketches are, of course, mere suggestions of design, and not contentions of aeronautical engineering.

"Note: Captain Alexis de Sakhnoffsky has long been known as an outstanding artist-designer. At the present, he’s busy with official duties at an Army Air base. His sketches, covered with prop-washed mud from 'Somewhere', had to go to the cleaners before printing. Artist Sakhnoffsky has to dream up schemes of futurism while getting eight hours on his Army cot."

Before he was assigned overseas he made a presentation to a group of students that appeared in the Feb 5, 1943 issue of the Robesonian (Lumberton, North Carolina):

"Major Speaks In Chapel

"A guest speaker of unusual interest at chapel Tuesday morning at Flora MacDonald was Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a native of Poland, and now a major in the intelligence department at the Maxton Air Base.

"Major Sakhnoffsky was presented by Miss Katherine Cameron, head of the clothing department at the college, as a designer of the most versatile type, and in the very interesting story of his life with which the major entertained the audience for three-quarters of an hour, he proved his right to the rank. He had been a designer, he said, from practically everything from dresses to automobile bodies. Apparently the latter is his specialty.

"For the past six years, Major Sakhnoffsky has run an illustrated page regularly in 'Esquire' in which he predicts the style of automobile sin the immediate and distant future. He has also been a constant contributor to 'Fortune' and to the American magazine."

Discharged in late 1945, the Count was still deemed newsworthy by the nation's gossip columnists. The International New Service's Miami correspondent, Ruth Brigham, reported on his recent visit to Miami on January 13, 1946:

"Zombies on Mind by Ruth Brigham, I.N.S. Staff Correspondant

"Miami, Fla.,'Jan. 12.—(INS)

"Vacationers include Count and Countess Alexis de Sakhnoffsky currently of New York. Chased from Moscow in 1919 as a 'White,' Sakhnoffsky recently returned there as a lieutenant colonel on our side, invited with a United States military mission. For years Sakhnoffsky's drawings of modernistic, racy autos and such, were featured in Esquire. He's contracted to start again in May.

"While in Miami he's the yacht guest of Sportsman R. S. Evans the lad who helped revive polo in Florida. Evans and Sakhnoffsky are said to be formulating plans to build a new, tiny car— with the gas tank to be filled by an eyedropper.

"Sakhnoffsky rarely goes night clubbing. But this week he was seen at the Beachcomber in Miami. The count says zombies fascinate him. Not to drink, just to think about."

The recently acquired Countess de Sakhnoffsky mentioned above was his third wife, Joan Morris Stevens (b. August 15, 1917, in Dayton, Ohio), the daughter of Samual Rawlins and Sara Gertrude (Morris) Stevens, of Waveland, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia respectively. The third Countess de Sakhnoffsky was an accomplished artist and clothes designer who as a student became enamored with de Sakhnoffsky's published drawings.

Upon his return from service de Sakhnoffsky discovered job opportunities for a free-lance styling consultant, even a famous one, were few and far between. Luckily his young friend and protégé, Brooks Stevens, sent some work his way.

The pair had met back in 1934 when a young 'Kippie' Stevens travelled to Chicago to visit the Century of Progress Exhibition. A Milwaukee newspaper described the meeting as follows: "Asked what his fees were, the count told told Kippie between $350 and $400 a day. Whereupon Kippie fell off his chair."

At the time Stevens was working for Willys-Overland who were in the middle of designing their post-war lineup. He proposed a sedan based on the basic pre-war Willys dimensions and drivetrain and hired de Sakhnoffsky to assist with the finishing touches. Three prototypes, code-named 6/66, 6/70 and 6/71, were constructed, and the project, which required all-new tooling was green-lit by Willys-Overland president Joe Frazer.

However a sudden change in management put an end to the project. Frazer had a falling out with Ward Canaday, the firm's chairman, and he was promptly replaced by former Ford executive Charles 'Cast Iron Charlie' Sorenson.

Sorenson proposed an entirely different vehicle, one that would remind the buying public of the wartime Jeep. Stevens was given the task of designing a more utilitarian vehicle whose body could be stamped out in a recently acquired appliance factory. The presses had a maximum draw of six inches, which naturally made the expressively curved sedans that Stevens and de Sakhnoffsky had designed out of the question as their streamlined bodies required expensive deep-draw presses and dies.

Many Jeep-Willys enthusiast are happy that the prototypes were shelved, as in a short three days Stevens came up with the cleverly designed 1947-1948 Willys Pickup, Station Wagon and Jeepster, all three of which remain popular to this day.

In early 1947 de Sakhnoffsky was hired by Texas ice baron Hugh A. Drane to design the interior of his new private coach, the 'Nisise' - the May 19, 1947 Corsicana Daily Sun reporting:


"Special Vehicle Is Ordered By Drane; Excels Pullman

"Hugh Drane through the years has employed the latest and best transportation available He now travels in his new specially built bus—that is more like but excels the finest Pullman coach on the railroads in its accommodate and conveniences.

"The 26,000 pound beauty, with "Nisise" at the sides and rear, the trademark copywrited by Crane's

Industries, costing approximately $50,000, is complete in every detail and is one of two similar coaches In the country (the other is owned by Augustus Busch III).

"Visits Ice Plants

"Drane plans to travel some 3,000 miles per month to his various ice plants over an area of 1,000 miles, extending from Amarillo to Corpus Christi. By using this method, he can sleep all night while the vehicle is piloted by the drivers, arise refreshed and ready for a busy day's work. Sleeping accommodations are one of the features.

"The coach was driven home early Wednesday morning from New York and is now located at the Drane home northwest of Corsicana. En route home the party, Mr. and Mrs. Drane, Ben B. Blackmon, Earl Pressley and Gilliean Rea, spent two days in Detroit visiting T. B. Futk, a lawn mower company executive, and friend.

"Sleeping accommodations are available for four persons, along with quarters for three crewmen if day and night driving is done. If a one-day trip is planned, fifteen can be cared for.

"In discussing his newest mode of travel, Drane said that he had a plane for a decade to get to his ten ice establishments, much faster and better than automobile or railroad travel, but weather conditions frequently grounded his plane and much valuable time is lost. The coach can go in most any kind of weather. The capitalist had been thinking of the new mode of travel for the past three years. He considered a special railroad car, but abandoned that idea in favor of the bus.

"Special Features

"Among the special features are an intercommunicating phone system from the compartments to the driver's seat, a fire detector on the driver's dash, carbon dioxide fire extinguishers, air pressure that operates the brakes, opens the doors and keeps up the water pressure, hot and cold running water with 110 gallon storage of cold and 20 gallons in the hot water container. The hot water is heated from the engine exhaust. A two horse-power direct current generator is a feature, while the entire coach is air cooled and heated.

"Clothes closet is one added luxury while there is a shower lavatory and toilet accommodations to the main compartment and to the guest quarters. Propane gas is used in the four-burner and broiler stove located in the kitchen between the two compartments. There is a turn indicator in the kitchen connected with the driver who signals when and in what direction a turn is contemplated so that the cook can adjust or accommodate himself and his pots and pans to the changed directions without the danger of mishaps or accidents. An ice refrigerator provides sufficient storage for food. The dishes and silverware are located in specially built compartments, placed in cushioned rows so they will neither rattle nor be broken. Each compartment has storage spaces, ample drawers for cosmetics, etc., humidors for men's smokes, etc., and ample mirrors are found, including one full lengthed mirror door for the ladies. A septic tank is found under the coach. Tires are 11" x 22" and dual rear wheels are provided. The coach is white and stainless steel.

"Designed by Belgian

"Alexis Sakhnoffsky, New Canaan, Conn., Belgian automobile designer prior to World War I, friend of Drane, designed the interior of the coach. After World War I, Sakhnoffsky came to America, is a naturalized American. His wife, a countess, is also an American. They plan to visit Mr. and Mrs. Drane this summer. The designer was a colonel in the U.S. Army during World War II. He frequently contributes to Esquire magazine. A ship-building concern prepared the interior.

"In discussing the relative cost of airplane travel and the bus, it was brought out the planes cost from $15,000 to $22,000, but a pilot's salary is from $750 to $1,000 per month.

"Gillean Rea, Corsicana a former Corsicana High School football star and recently separated from the armed forces, will be the operator of the bus. The newest travel method looks like it would be ideal for a fishing trip to the choice sites on rivers off the main highways, but it won't. The long coach requires considerable space in which to be turned around, and besides, the 26,000 pound conveyance could not negotiate the trails that lead to fishing sites, and would break through the timber and comparatively weak bridge structures generally found on the by-roads. Life Magazine will carry a special article on the new coach and representatives will be here within a few days."

Brook Stevens brought in de Sakhnoffsky as a consultant when he was hired to assist Kaiser-Frazer's in-house designer (Duncan McRae) and engineer (Dean Hammond) with the firm's 1949 and 1950 model offerings. Stevens and de Sakhnoffsky were given the task of preparing the firm auto show exhibits and dealer showrooms, and also provided minor styling adjustments to the 1949 models and helped McRae and Hammond with some of Kaiser-Frazer's 1950 models.

Throughout the 1950s de Sakhnoffsky contributed illustrations and articles to a number of magazines, one of which was Motor Trend, one of the first automotive 'buff books' – a term that refers to a magazine written for enthusiasts, rather than consumers or industry insiders.

He penned several articles for the publication, including a recurring column entitled 'Trend of the Future' which presented new designs of interest to Motor Trend's readers. The following column accompanied illustrations that appeared in the September 1949 issue of Motor Trend, Vol.1, No. 1:

“Trend of the Future

"On the following two pages, Colonel Alexis de Sakhnoffsky presents his version of the coming trend in automobile styling. Many readers will recall his futuristic designs presented several years ago in Esquire magazine.

"Some of the more important features of this design are the following:

'bubble' windshield
rear deck handle integral with license plate light
massively-designed bumper combined with airs scoop
and… 'psychological styling' (suggesting speed) consisting of louvers and twin exhausts

"The instrument panel is composed of a large speedometer, a tachometer, and a matching round dial for other standard instruments. The round buttons on the steering wheel spokes are blinker lights to indicate that gas or oil supply is low.  Center of the panel has a combined radio grill and round television screen."

The Count was also interested in early automobiles and was a charter member of the Michigan Region of the CCCA (Classic Car Club of America) which was organized on April 15, 1949. He was also an active member of the Western Michigan chapter of the VMCCA (Veteran Motor Car Club of America).

Even being the Count's ex-wife was deemed newsworthy, an INS News wire story dated October 21, 1949 announced her second divorce:

"Marriage of East-West Ends

"Los Angeles (INS) - Ethleene Singh, 30, writer and one time designer, obtained an uncontested divorce Thursday from importer Gurdial Singh, 40, after she testified that 'It's impossible for an American woman to make a go of marriage with a Hindu.' Mrs. Singh, formerly married to Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, famous industrial designer, said that the spiritual conflict between the American and Indian ways of life gave her stomach trouble and caused her to lose five pounds a week."

Apparently de Sakhnoffsky's work on the American Austin and Bantam made him the country's de facto small car expert and he produced a illustrations for Powel Crosley's advertisements. In 1950 he was brought on board to facelift the 1951 Crosley line, which due to budget constraints resulted in a new grill and not much else. The Count's new grill included a miniature reinterpretation of the pre-war Crosley's bullet-nose, abandoned in its 1949 redesign by Powel Crosley and Carl W. Sundberg a partner in the Southfield, Michigan industrial design firm of Sundberg & Ferar.

De Sakhnoffsky and August Duesenberg served as judges at the inaugural 1952 International Motor Sports Show's Concours d'Elegance. He also contributed to the program as follows:

"The Thrill of Speed by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky

"What is this thing called speed?

"Few among those who enjoy it will venture to define the thrill which speed gives them.  Bobsled pilots claim that the thrill of this sport consists of traveling at over 80 mph, with an all-time knowledge that you cannot stop. Fighter pilots indulge in 'buzzing' or landing their ships at unnecessary high speed for the sheer 'kick' which they get out of it. Does it bolster their ego? Does it give them relief from an inferiority complex? Or is it an outlet for the bravado instinct, which can be found in all of us?

"Opinions of psychologists, who study reactions of men who enjoy the excitement of flirting with death, are divided. They report such sensations as:

"'The exhilarating feeling of a powerful machine throbbing beneath you…'
'The thrill of being in control of your life and death…'
'The peculiar delight of being at liberty to take risks or avoid them…'

"Whichever facet of this fascinating vice fits you, you know you will always continue to indulge in it and will consider being called a reckless madman an unthinkable affront. This is a close affinity between those who enjoy this 'flat out' feeling” and the relatively few who can capture the illusion of speed on paper.

"It is impossible to convey the full measure of fast movement with pencils, brushes, and paint.  But artists, who have been blessed with the opportunity of handling a thoroughbred at 100 plus, retain an eternal imprint on their output, which cannot be easily erased.

"To draw sport cars, you have to be deeply conscious of what is mechanical beauty.  There is something human in the appeal of a custom-built creation.  After driving fast cars, a motor artist discovers that as he becomes more mechanical, the magnificent beast is becoming more human.  The tapered highlights on its metal skin are reminiscent of taut, young muscles under an athlete’s sweaty skin.

"The whole body of a thoroughbred sports car becomes a symphony of fast, functional lines, accented by power bulges, oversized tachs, twin exhausts, and knock-on wheels.

"What makes a car look fast? Naturally there are such elementary features as lowness, length of hood, etc.  These are “musts” in a speedy silhouette since they are directly related to air resistance and feeling of power. Psychological styling adds details which suggest, by inference, thoughts related to speed.

"For instance, a large tachometer does not add a single extra mile to the top speed of a car, but reminds one of the oversized revolution counters observed on Grand Prix jobs. Tiny, short gear-shift lever 'reeks' of lightning gear changes, and rows of louvers symbolize a high performance engine. An oval grille brings to mind Ferraris and Maseratis and a honey-comb air intake the roar of an SSK.

"There is a wealth of inspiration for a designer in a close study of characteristic features of real racing cars, in which power-bulges are not molded by phony stylists, nor port holes added to identify a new model. Some of these details are authentic elements of a modern sports car design, but a seasoned designer will use them sparingly, as an experienced chef, who accents his creations with mere dabs of spices.

"What are forecasts for fashions in the sports car field? Who copies whom in this industry? There is a peculiar anomaly among style trends of today. We can see Detroit stylists adopting simplified, functional shapes favored by European designers, while on the other hand, original American style features are being beautifully interpreted by Italian craftsmen. Such names as Farina, Vignale, and Ghia are fast becoming as well known as the reputed Saoutchic and Figoni & Falaschi.

"There is no doubt, however, that the tussle for supremacy in sports car design is confined to Britain and Italy. British leadership, with classic but 'passé' designs, is being seriously challenged by pure, exciting lines of the latest creations from Milan and Turin.

"Recent Continental Shows provide some interesting international fashion hints. Smart sports cars in 1952 will 'wear' exposed wheels, hoods plunging lower than headlights, and simple functional accessories. Enclosed wheels and deep décolleté on doors are not chic anymore. Finally, some recent road races bear indications that a trend is developing toward enclosed sports car bodies for long distance competitions.

"Let us hope that the timid steps taken by Detroit manufacturers in unveiling a few prototypes of U.S. sports cars will result in an ultimate style leadership. The enthusiasm of American sportsmen should outweigh indecision and production consideration."

A 1955 issue of Bus Transportation mentioned that de Sakhnoffsky was working on a project for Mack:

"LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE of bus design is famed automotive stylist Alexis De Sakhnoffsky, hired by Mack to design the bus of tomorrow.

"There could be new developments in bus design soon... as Mack Trucks, Inc., has just retained famed engineering stylist Alexis de Sakhnoffsky to look into the future and translate what he sees into today's buses. A leading authority on automotive design, Sakhnoffsky has pioneered major style trends both here and abroad, where for six years in a row he captured the Gran Prix for design at the Monte Carlo Elegance Contest."

During 1952 he was retained by Preston Tucker to help him design a second Tucker, a sports car that was christened the Carioca. The Count wrote a short article about the project shortly before his death that was published posthumously in Automobile Quarterly (Vol. 4, No.1) and titled 'The Second Tucker'. The car was also featured on the cover of the July 1955 issue of Car Life which included an article entitled 'Preston Tucker's Production Line Rod'.

In his article for Automobile Quarterly the Count fondly recalled his friend:

"Preston Tucker was easy to know and hard not to like. In the four years prior to his death of lung cancer, our acquaintance, which began strictly on a business level, grew into a close friendship. And I came to admire his unvarying optimism and consistently logical approach to the most complex problems. How can I describe such a man as Tucker? 'Audacious' is the word that comes quickest to mind, for it was indeed audacious of him, in the first place, to have tried to invade a field dominated by experienced industrial giants. Then, though he suffered a moral as well as monetary defeat in the downfall of his enterprise, he began immediately to conceive of means to try again.

"Hounded by creditors, his own credit at its lowest ebb, and bitter at the manifest injustices that had been dealt him, Preston racked his brain to find another approach to the problem of turning his dream of a car into a reality. He came to me to seek help in putting down on paper what he planned as the Tucker Number Two.

"Preston felt that much of the sheer enjoyment of motoring was missed when you drove a boxy family sedan, functional though it may be. He wanted to build cars that were fun to drive. His conception of a fun car was a sporty looking vehicle of intriguing design, whose performance was sparkling, and which could be sold at a profit for $1,000.

"My first meeting with him took place in 1952 in his Ypsilanti, Michigan, headquarters where he had salvaged a rather well-equipped machine shop from his first automotive venture. There, laid out on long tables, was a complete assortment of automotive parts that could be purchased readily on a C.O.D. basis. Noting my surprise, Preston explained that as soon as a new model produced by any of the Big Three automakers reached the manufacturing stage, the 'gray market' immediately tooled up to produce identical or facsimile parts for the replacement business. Such facsimile parts included wheels, steering mechanisms, electrical systems, transmissions, radiator cores, brakes and what have you. Some of them were already in sub-assembly form.

"The designer's problem had thus been simplified, or made more complex, depending on how you looked at it: he would have to create a car that utilized a maximum number of available parts and a minimum number of parts that had to be built from new tooling. Also, it should be a car that could be put together with little difficulty. Aware of the pitfalls, but fascinated by the thought of becoming associated with such an incredibly imaginative man as Preston Tucker, I agreed to submit ideas for the design of the Tucker Number Two.

"In his original car building program, Preston had employed a team of bright, young engineers who had helped him develop the first Tucker car. Later, unable to remain idle, these men drifted away, accepting jobs with various established manufacturers. It is a tribute to Preston's magnetism that all these men remained on call in the event he would ever be able to start up again. The loyalty of some of the men I met personally was heartwarming.

"Preston's ideas were unorthodox, to say the least, and he was unabashedly dogmatic about imposing them. For one thing, he claimed that research had proved that from ten to twelve pounds of accumulated mud, gravel and tar are carried at times under each of the four fenders of a conventionally designed car. His solution: cycle fenders, which could be removed easily for cleaning and thereby abet the road performance of the car. He also insisted on what I can only describe as Pierce-Arrow-like headlights, rising part-way out of the front fenders, which would turn with the wheels as the car was steered. And of course there would be a third headlight—in the center, and stationary — because it had now become a sort of Tucker trademark.

"The third Tucker mandate was a rear engine. Preston believed that this location offered several advantages. There would be much less noise; the front end could have a slim and streamlined shape; and there would be added safety for passengers in case of a front-end collision.

"The instrument panel of the new car was to be the acme of simplicity: an oversized speedometer surrounded by four blinkers—for fuel, oil, temperature and amperes. The pointed tail of the eventual design had been advised by the racing car designer Harry Miller, with whom Preston had worked earlier in his career and whom Preston deeply respected. In fact, one of Miller's sketches was turned over to me for inspiration. To further the fun car notion, there was to be an unusual, curved rear-seat design, reminiscent of that of a motorboat.

"The greatest deterrent to producing the car was the cost of body and sheet-metal dies. Naturally, some die work (hood and rear-engine cover, specifically) had to be considered. But for constructing doors and other components involving simple one-way stretch or rolled operations, Preston received an enthusiastic response from a number of house-trailer builders. He believed, and I concurred, that since composite bodies had given more than satisfactory service to trailer owners for many years, there was no reason why such assemblies could not be used on the new Tucker car and shipped directly to the buyer along with the rest of the parts. The Tucker fun car was to be sold in kit form.

"Since Preston's credit was nil, a Detroit bank was designated to act as a kind of trustee and deal directly with the parts manufacturers. When a customer made a suitable and sufficient payment to the bank— either directly or through a finance company—orders were to be immediately dispatched by the bank to participating manufacturers, who in turn began shipping parts to the customer. Bills of lading were also to be credited by the fiduciary bank to each manufacturer, but no bill was actually to be paid until all the parts had been delivered.

"Tucker knew that among the nation's repair garage owners there were a great many who were eager to obtain Big Three franchises, but unable to, for one reason or another. Preston hoped to tap this reservoir of frustrated car dealers and also to provide the future Tucker owner with a service outlet. The customer would be urged to have his car assembled by a specially authorized garage owner for a prearranged fee of $60 (that is, ten hours at $6 an hour, as outlined in a manual accompanying the components). In this manner, the new Tucker company would acquire a dealer organization, and the customer would be assured of service for his car.

"Hearing about plans to build this car, Juscelino Kubitschek, who was then the president of Brazil and a friend of Preston's, offered inducements in the form of tax-free plants, if the car could be assembled in his country. Intrigued by the offer, Tucker made several trips to Brazil and even considered launching the car in South America. Because of this possibility, Preston and I agreed to call the car the Tucker Carioca — Carioca being the name of the ballroom version of the samba and also the name applied to a citizen of Rio de Janeiro.

"Although I did not agree entirely with Preston's conception of how the car should look, I prepared a number of roughs that embodied his ideas, and from these he selected the design herewith. Close scrutiny of the concept will reveal some flaws, of course, but it is reasonable to assume that many of the inherent problems would have been solved eventually. Unfortunately, the project progressed no farther than the rough-sketch stage, which was a profound disappointment to me, for the idea of a strictly fun car is always present in the auto designer's mind. And I think this would have been a fun car to build."

Although a prototype was never constructed by Tucker, one enterprising fan of the vehicle claims to have one currently under construction.

In 1957 de Sakhnoffsky was retained by the footwear manufacturer Pedwin to design a series of automobiles that would be included in an imaginative series of full-page magazine advertisements during the coming year. A press release announced:

"The Pedwin Sports Car Design Promotion: 'Mr. Dream Car'

"The man who invented dream cars is back with a complete new line of sleek imaginary sports cars. This month, American magazine readers will see once more a style of drawing that to many of them – especially those who were reading men’s magazines before World War II – is as familiar as the pin-up girls of Petty or Vargas. The sleek, imaginative dream cars of Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, which graced the pages of Esquire for years, are to appear in a series of monthly magazine ads.

"The series will include 12 Sakhnoffsky designed sports cars and will run one each month in the pages of several national magazines as part of an advertising campaign for Pedwin Shoes. Reason for the sports car theme, says the shoe concern, is the 'increasing interest nationally in sports cars by the young men of America'. Admirers of the Sakhnoffsky drawings will be able to obtain dye-transfer color reproductions by writing for them.'

A de Sakhnoffsky speaking engagement was covered by the April 4, 1958 issue of the Holland Evening Sentinel (MI):

"Alexis de Sakhnoffsky Addresses Rotary Club

"Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, Russian commercial artist and designer of furniture, automobiles, radios and electrical appliances spoke to the Rotary Club Thursday noon at the luncheon meeting at the Warm Friend Tavern. He told of his experiences while in the Intelligence Corps as Lt. Col. with the U. S. Army in World War II, stationed in Moscow. Harold Ramsey introduced Mr. Sakhnoffsky to the 55 members present. Seven guests and one visiting Rotarian were also present."

During the 1950s de Sakhnoffsky maintained a residence in Grand Rapids, making periodic visits to Milwaukee, as a part-time illustrator and styling consultant to Brooks Stevens Associates. He also did some freelance work for third parties which included the Attwood Manufacturing Co., a major supplier of aftermarket and OEM boating hardware. A circa 1961 Attwood catalog offered a 'Seaflite Riviera line designed by de Sakhnoffsky'.

In 1961 he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia with his third wife, Joan, to take a part-time position with Mills B. Lane, the wealthy president of Atlanta-based Citizens and Southern National Bank for whom he created portraits of his rather extensive collection of Classic motor cars.

In partnership with Lane the Count sold sets of lithographs of some of his early works through small display ads in the back pages of Road & Track, Motor Trend and Antique Automobile, Bulb Horn and Classic Car, the address being 'Stable of the Thoroughbreds, Box 4899, Atlanta, Georgia'.

He also designed a series of runabouts for Atlanta's Feather Craft Boat Co., one of which was mentioned in a review of the 1962 New York Boat Show published in the January 14, 1962 New York Times:

"SMALL OUTBOARDS STILL APPEALING; 40 Builders Have 180 Such Craft at Coliseum

"The New York show probably surpasses all others in tonnage, but without the small outboard propelled craft it would lose much of its popular appeal. This year more than forty builders have installed about 180 such runabouts and cruisers in the Coliseum.

"Builders of the metal boats appear to have gone in for refinements more strongly than most. Among them is Feather Craft’s 16-footer Meteor, selling for $950. Her styling was conceived by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky."

Some of de Sakhnoffsky's work for Mills B. Lane Jr. was published in a 1978 issue of Automobile Quarterly which also included a Beverly Rae Kimes interview with Lane concerning his relationship with de Sakhnoffsky, which is excerpted below:

"'I think he came to Atlanta to die,' Mills Lane said quietly.

"Alexis de Sakhnoffsky had lived a full life. He was sixty now. Behind him stretched a career that had seen his ideas grace such diverse chassis as Panhard Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, Mercedes-Benz, Fiat, Puch, Minerva, Packard, Willys, Cord, American Bantam and Nash. Ahead of him? 'As long as I can hold a pencil and draw cars,' he once said, 'I will be happy.' But that was difficult now. His hands were stiffened with arthritis.

"And he was poor, by his standards certainly. A man accustomed to the superlative, who considered the 'better' things in life merely adequate, an aesthete who looked upon life as a work of art, a man like that could but spend profligately. Alexis de Sakhnoffsky had. And now the money was gone. An occasional assignment from Esquire magazine and a war pension earned in two years' service—he left a lieutenant colonel—for the United States Air Force during World War II provided subsistence, but not much more. And so he traveled to Atlanta. There was a military cemetery in nearby Marietta; when the time came there would be space for him there. It was 1961.

"If all this suggests melancholia, that impression should be dispelled immediately. Alexis de Sakhnoffsky was too proud a man to feel sorry for himself. And he was too imaginative not to find some way to enjoy life despite his circumstances. Besides, he had just met Mills Lane.

"What Mills B. Lane and Alexis de Sakhnoffsky shared was, from disparate sectors, a common flair for the flamboyant—and, on an aesthetic level, that perhaps innate quality, a sense of good taste in the possessions with which one surrounds himself. The only difference between them now was that Mills Lane could afford to indulge in possessions and Alexis de Sakhnoffsky could not. Fortuitously for the latter, among the things the former chose to collect were automobiles.

"'Daddy owned one of the first little Maxwell roadsters, the last car he drove was a Detroit Electric,' Mills remembers. The first Packard in the Lane garage was a Twin Six touring car, followed by more Packards, then a Cadillac Type 57 and more Cadillacs. 'When I was fifteen the Lane family took a tour of Great Britain in a Silver Ghost and I fell in love with that car. When I was at Yale in the mid-Thirties I bought a secondhand Model A Ford roadster for $65 and drove it back and forth between New Haven and Savannah for two years. I was reading a lot about Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, I was fascinated by what he did to cars.'

"It was during this period, when the most exotic collection of automobiles anywhere in the United States was gathering itself together in Atlanta, that Mills Lane met Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. 'I'm a hero worshipper,' Mills admits. 'I was in awe of him. After a few drinks, I relaxed a little more and we became friendly, but I was in awe of him until the day he died.' For Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, meeting Mills Lane was the tonic he needed. Here was a man who not only loved beautiful cars, and could talk about them, but who also possessed an assemblage of them that would impress the most blasé sophisticate.

"Mills and Alexis became fast friends. 'I loved him,' Mills remarks with affection. 'I was crazy about the guy. He was such a proud man, and perfectly delightful, a marvelous companion.' The two discovered other interests in common. Mills is a genuine gourmet, appreciative of fine food elegantly served; Alexis regarded eating as an ethereal experience. Alexis was a connoisseur of good wines; since the age of twelve when he had his first glass of port in Juarez, Mills has been likewise.

"But principally it was Mills' cars that drew the two men together. 'You could see him become younger, you could visually see it, when he was around them,' Mills remembers. 'All of a sudden, he seemed less ill, as if his health had come back so he could fully enjoy himself among the objects that were his first love.' When Mills decided to open his collection to the public, he commissioned Alexis to paint the cars which comprised it. Ultimately, he would complete forty-two of the portraits, which were displayed in the new museum. 'He exercised poetic license on some of them,' Mills smiles, 'but I guess I expected that.' They were the last illustrations Alexis ever did..."

Count Alexis Vladimir de Sakhnoffsky died on April 29, 1964, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Following de Sakhnoffsky's passing, David R. Holls, former assistant to the Vice President of Design at General Motors Corporation, acquired a large number of the Count's original pieces of artwork which were donated to the Benson Ford Research Library after Holls' death in 2000.

Surprisingly certain pieces of de Sakhnoffsky's streamlined blond furniture remain in production today. Leonard Riforgiato, owner of the South Beach Furniture Co., Miami, and investment banker Andrew Capitman bought Heywood-Wakefield's assets and by 1993 were reproducing more than 35 examples of the firm's streamlined furniture, which included a number of the de Sakhnoffsky-designed Crescendo line.

They're still in business at 2300 Southwest 23rd Street Miami, FL.

A gorgeous 1:16 replica of de Sakhnoffsky's L-29 Cord was offered by Danbury Mint and remains in high demand today.

In 2011 Finish illustrator Janne Kutja produced a limited edition tribute to de Sakhnoffsky that's available from his website.

©2012 Mark Theobald for

With special thanks to Beverly Rae Kimes, The Classic Car Club of America, Automobile Quarterly, Esquire and the Labatt Brewing Co.

Some Pics ©2012 Labatt Brewing Co.

Appendix 1 de Sakhnoffsky Patents:

USD92032 tea kettle and cover - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
USD92033 saucepan and cover - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
USD92034 saucepot and cover - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
USD92035 sauce kettle and cover - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
USD92037 cover - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
USD92038 saucepan - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
USD92039 saucepot - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
USD92040 drip coffeepot - Filed Jan 22, 1934 - Issued Apr 17, 1934
US2056002 Radio apparatus - Filed Jan 29, 1934 - Issued Sep 29, 1936
USD99417 radio receiver cabinet - Filed Aug 10, 1935 - Issued Apr 21, 1936
USD98919 radiator shell - Filed Jul 17, 1935 - Issued Mar 17, 1936
USD100757 sadiron - Filed Nov 30, 1935 - Issued Aug 11, 1936
USD101507 vehicle - Filed Aug 10, 1936 - Issued Oct 6, 1936
USD105268 vehicle - Filed Oct 29, 1936 - Issued Jul 13, 1937
USD101809 vehicle body - Filed Oct 1, 1936 - Issued Nov 3, 1936
USD109995 vehicle - Filed Oct 29, 1936 - Issued Jun 7, 1938
USD108827 vehicle - Filed Jul 20, 1937 - Issued Mar 15, 1938
USD108892 grill work - Filed Jan 21, 1937 - Issued Mar 22, 1938
USD105899 coe fuel tank truck - Filed Jan 21, 1937 - Issued Aug 31, 1937
USD110857 vehicle body - Filed Jun 22, 1937 - Issued Aug 16, 1938
USD103645 velocipede - Filed Jan 27, 1937 - Issued Mar 16, 1937
USD106063 semi-trailer body - Filed Jan 21, 1937 - Issued Sep 14, 1937
USD108346 fuel tank truck - Filed Jan 21, 1937 - Issued Feb 8, 1938
USD108269 gasoline tank vehicle - Filed Jan 21, 1937 - Issued Feb 1, 1938
USD109013 brewery delivery vehicle - Filed Jan 21, 1937 - Issued Mar 22, 1938
USD108780 trailer vehicle - Filed Jul 20, 1937 - Issued Mar 15, 1938
US2154472 Velocipede construction - Filed Jan 29, 1937 - Issued Apr 18, 1939
USD109885 lighter - Filed Jan 10, 1938 - Issued May 31, 1938
USD131683 flatware - Filed Jul 26, 1941 - Issued Mar 24, 1942
USD174112 Industrial Truck - Filed Dec 31, 1953 - Issued Mar 1, 1955
USD186965 fluid pressure-actuated horn - Filed Jul 23, 1958 – Issued 1959
USD188996 navigation light - Filed Apr 13, 1960 – Issued 1960
USD190679 nautical chock - Filed Apr 13, 1960 – Issued 1960
USD192185 boat hook for ski rope - Filed Apr 13, 1960 - Issued Feb 6, 1962
USD192182 boat light and rope cleat - Filed Apr 13, 1960 - Issued Feb 6, 1962
USD190977 flagstaff - Filed Apr 13, 1960 – Issued 1962
USD192183 bow handle - Filed Apr 13, 1960 - Issued Feb 6, 1962
USD192186 eye cleat - Filed Apr 13, 1960 – Issued 1962

©2012 Mark Theobald for






Алесис де Сакчноффскы


Alexis de Sakhnoffsky Papers; 1901-1964; Finding Aids - Benson Ford Research Center, pub. 2011

Kathleen Franz - Tinkering: Consumers Reinvent the Early Automobile

Griffith Borgeson  - Errett Lobban Cord: His Empire, His Motor Cars

Rusty McClure, David Stern, Michael A. Banks - Crosley: Two Brothers and a Business Empire That Transformed the Nation

David LaChance - The Count of Kenosha: The 1940 Nash Ambassador Eight Special Cabriolet, with a dash of continental flair, Hemmings Classic Car March, 2007 issue

Charles K. Hyde - Storied Independent Automakers: Nash, Hudson, and American Motors

Alexis de Sakhnoffsky - A Portfolio of Antique and Modern Horseless Carriages, pub. 1960

Michael Lamm & Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style, pub. 1996

Beverly Rae Kimes – Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, Automobile Quarterly Vol. III, No. 4, pub. 1965

Alexis de Sakhnoffsky – Tucker Number Two: the Carioca, Automobile Quarterly Vol. 4, No 1

Beverly Rae Kimes - Automobile Quarterly Vol. X, No. 4, pub. 1972

Beverly Rae Kimes - Memories of a Friendship: Alexis, Mills and the Stable of Thoroughbreds, Automobile Quarterly Vol XVI, No. 4, pub. 1978

American Film Institute - The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States 1931-1941. Pub. 1993

Glenn Adamson - Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World, pub. 2003

Steven & Roger W. Rouland - Heywood-Wakefield Modern Furniture, pub. 1994

Harris Gertz - Heywood-Wakefield, pub. 2001

Rusty McClure, David Stern & Michael A. Banks – Crosley; Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation, pub. 2008

Ray Djuff - Glacier on Wheels: A History of the Park Buses, Part 2: 1927 to 1939, The Inside Trail, Winter, 2000 issue

Beverly Rae Kimes, Winston Goodfellow & Michael Furman - Speed, style, and beauty: cars from the Ralph Lauren collection, pub. 2005

Beverly Rae Kimes – The Classic Era, pub. 2001

Peter Hunn - Tail Fins and Two-tones, The Guide to America's Classic Fiberglass and Aluminum Runabouts pub. 2006

George Philip Hanley & Stacey Pankiw Hanley – The Marmon Heritage, pub.1985

Beverly Rae Kimes - Alexis de Sakhnoffsky Obituary, The Classic Car, Spring 1964 issue

Alexis de Sakhnoffsky – Memo From Sakhnoffsky, Installment 1, The Classic Car, Winter 1955 issue

Alexis de Sakhnoffsky - Memo From Sakhnoffsky, Installment 2, The Classic Car, Fall 1957 issue

Alexis de Sakhnoffsky - Memo From Sakhnoffsky, Installment 3, The Classic Car, Spring 1961 issue 

Alexis de Sakhnoffsky – Memo From Sakhnoffsky, The Classic Car, March 1990 issue

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

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