Chances are you’re familiar with something Viktor Schreckengost designed. He turned 100 years old in 2006. He’s had a long career, and the breadth of his work is amazing.
From Viktor Schreckengost – American Da Vinci:
He created the first cab-over-engine truck, the first modern mass-produced dinnerware, and the first economical pedal-cars for children. He designed stage sets and costumes, flashlights, printing presses, riding lawn mowers, electric fans, and bicycles. At the same time, his work in the fine arts flourished.
The cab-over truck is what caught my attention. I’d always wondered why that funny looking design caught on, and why it disappeared again in the 1980s. In 1932 Schreckengost teamed up with engineer Ray Spiller to design the first cab over truck. The laws at the time limited truck length to 42′ on the highways. By locating the cab over the engine, they could save several feet of cab length and that to the trailer capacity.
According to Schreckengost “The man who bought one of those could pay for it in one year with the additional hauling load.”
Long haul cab-over trucks disappeared from the US when the highway length limit was relaxed in the 1980s. Sitting ahead of the front axle makes for a rough ride, and the engine noise is louder in the cab. However, the design is still common for small delivery trucks that need more maneuverability and in Europe where the highway length limits are more restrictive.
Schreckengost’s fine arts designs include paintings, sculpture, and ceramics. This bowl designed for Eleanor Roosevelt is probably his most famous artwork.
Parabolic Jazz Bowl. Sold December 2004, Sotheby’s, US$254,400
In addition Schreckengost has been teaching design at the Cleveland Institute of Art for 70 years. His students are responsible for the design of a large part of our environment including the best-selling car in North America.
:: ViktorSchreckengost.org :: All Things Considered