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 Long Island.

    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

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Biographies of Prominent Carriage Draftsmen - Carriage Monthly, April 1904

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

George Arthur Oliver - A History of Coachbuilding

George Arthur Oliver - Cars and Coachbuilding: One Hundred Years of Road Vehicle Development

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

James J. Schild - Fleetwood: the Company and the Coachcraft

John R. Velliky - Dodge Brothers/Budd Co. Historical Photo Album

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 1

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 2

Stephen Newbury -  Car Design Yearbook 3

Dennis Adler - The Art of the Sports Car: The Greatest Designs of the 20th Century

C. Edson Armi - The Art of American Car Design: The Profession and Personalities

C. Edson Armi - American Car Design Now

Penny Sparke - A Century of Car Design

John Tipler - The World's Great Automobile Stylists

Ivan Margolius - Automobiles by Architects

Jonathan Bell - Concept Car Design

Erminie Shaeffer Hafer - A century of vehicle craftsmanship

Ronald Barker & Anthony Harding - Automobile Design: Twelve Great Designers and Their Work

John McLelland - Bodies beautiful: A history of car styling and craftsmanship

Frederic A. Sharf - Future Retro: Drawings From The Great Age Of American Automobiles

Paul Carroll Wilson - Chrome Dreams: Automobile Styling Since 1893

David Gartman - Auto Opium: A Social History of American Automobile Design

Nick Georgano - Art of the American Automobile: The Greatest Stylists and Their Work

Matt Delorenzo - Modern Chrysler Concept Cars: The Designs That Saved the Company

Thom Taylor - How to Draw Cars Like a Pro

Tony Lewin & Ryan Borroff - How To Design Cars Like a Pro

Frederick E. Hoadley - Automobile Design Techniques and Design Modeling: the Men, the Methods, the Materials

Doug DuBosque - Draw Cars

Jonathan Wood - Concept Cars

D. Nesbitt - 50 Years Of American Auto Design

David Gartman - Auto Opium: A Social History of American Automobile Design

Lennart W. Haajanen & Karl Ludvigsen - Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles

L. J. K Setright - The designers: Great automobiles and the men who made them

Goro Tamai - The Leading Edge: Aerodynamic Design of Ultra-Streamlined Land Vehicles

Brian Peacock & Waldemar Karwowski - Automotive Ergonomics

Bob Thomas - Confessions of an Automotive Stylist

Brooke Hodge & C. Edson Armi - Retrofuturism: The Car Design of J Mays

Gordon M. Buehrig - Rolling sculpture: A designer and his work

Henry L. Dominguez - Edsel Ford and E.T. Gregorie: The Remarkable Design Team...

Stephen Bayley - Harley Earl (Design Heroes Series)

Stephen Bayley - Harley Earl and the Dream Machine

Serge Bellu - 500 Fantastic Cars: A Century of the World Concept Cars

Raymond Loewy - Industrial Design

Raymond Loewy - Never Leave Well Enough Alone

Philippe Tretiack - Raymond Loewy and Streamlined Design

Angela Schoenberger - Raymond Loewy: Pioneer of American Industrial Design

Laura Cordin - Raymond Loewy



2004, Inc. | Index | Disclaimer | Privacy