Hugo Pfau 1908-1978
Although Pfau was not the famous body designer as he sometimes inferred, he did work alongside Ray Dietrich, Frank Pease, Ralph Roberts and Roland Stickney as a young office assistant/draftsman at LeBaron when it's offices were located in Manhattan. Long before he went to work there during high school he was already a rabid fan of custom auto bodies and attended all of the NY Salons and auto shows during the heyday of the custom body era.
He remained a fan during the "dark ages" of custom bodies (1940-1970) when they were regularly scrapped for their materials, and continued his life-long interest through his retirement when he wrote about his reminisces of the east coast's great body-building firms in his two books, The Custom Body Era and the Coachbuilt Packard. He also wrote an amazing series of coachbuilding articles in Cars & Parts magazine (plus a few in Motor Trend) that to this day remain the only record of many of these long-forgotten firms.
After his stint at LeBaron, Pfau worked as a salesman for a depression-era Long Island Ford dealer and sold insurance until his retirement. He died unexpectedly in 1978 at the age of 70.
At the same time, Frank W. Pease was employed as an additional body draftsman. He subsequently became chief engineer of the Hayes Body Company in Grand Rapids. A few months later, I was hired and much of my time the first few months was spent assisting Ray Dietrich or Frank Pease in working on the full-size body drafts, and incidentally picking up a good general knowledge of how bodies were built. I was attending New York City's first technical high school and had already completed some basic courses in mechanical drawing.
In 1925 when I graduated from high school, I joined LeBaron on a full-time basis. For the next few years all designs by LeBaron came from the drawing boards of R. L. Stickney and myself. Between us, we turned out about 200 a year.
Hugo Pfau's wife Irene was a first grade teacher on
|For more information please read:
Cars & Parts - various issues 1971-1978
Hugo Pfau at LeBaron - Motor Trend, August, 1964
Motor Trend - various issues early 1970s
Hugo Pfau - The Coachbuilt Packard
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