Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Viktor Schreckengost, genius designer of such a wide variety of things, like the COE and he designed inexpensive pedal cars in the 1930s from sheet metal

Schreckengost wasn't the first to create the child's pedal car, but before his design, such toys were prohibitively expensive for most families. As Murray-Ohio's chief bicycle designer in the late 1930s, Schreckengost used scrap sheet metal and a simplified design to make a high-end toy accessible to generations of children.

In 1932 Schreckengost teamed up with engineer Ray Spiller to design the first cab-over-engine truck for White Truck. Schreckengost was later joined by other designers such as Raymond Loewy who designed the Metro series of vans and trucks for International Harvester.

The laws of the time limited overall truck length to 42 feet on highways. By locating the cab over the engine, they could shave several feet of cab length, adding it back to the trailer length, increasing cargo capacity while keeping the dimensions of the entire truck within the permissible limit.

Schreckengost patented the design in 1934, saying“The man who bought one of those could pay for it in one year with the additional hauling load.”

When World War II began, Viktor was 37 years old, not eligible for the draft. By 1943, however, he decided that he wanted active duty, so he joined the US Navy.

The Navy quickly recognized Viktor's skills, so he was assigned to a top-secret project: radar object recognition, which entailed producing accurate terrain models for infantry movements. As a Navy expert, he was secretly flown to Europe to trouble-shoot problems the Allies were having with their radar during the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war ended, Viktor was made the Commanding Officer at the Naval Research Center in New York. There he worked on projects ranging from voice recognition through radio static to improving the design of artificial limb.  for a huge gallery of a LOT of things he designed, very impressive!

He taught industrial design at the Cleveland Institute of Art for decades and founded their school of industrial design, at age 66, the first of its kind in the country.

 His notable students include Giuseppe Delena, chief designer at Ford Motor Co.;
 Larry Nagode, principal designer at Fisher-Price;
 John Nottingham and John Spirk, inventors of the first Dirt Devil handheld Vacuum;
 Joe Oros, head of the studio at Ford that designed the 1965 Ford Mustang,
 and Jerry Hirschberg, designer of the the 1971 boat tail Buick Riviera.

He designed bicycles for Murray and Sears. And he created simple, modern dinnerware designs that became popular throughout the United States. He kept whole industries humming throughout the Depression and the post-World War II years by designing products consumers loved.

Some of his designs are safer and cleaner printing presses, economical pedal cars, cab-over-engine trucks, banana-seat bicycles, electric fans, lawn mowers and lawn chairs.

In the 1941 creation of his “Beverly Hills” lawn chair molded a prototype of this chair out of plastocene clay and asked each employee to sit in it. A day's worth of warm bodies softened the clay into a seat custom-designed for comfort. The metal chair was stamped from the clay prototype and mounted on a single steel tube crafted into a frame.

Also tractors, stoves, dinnerware, refrigerators, flashlights, theater costumes and ball gowns.'s-legacy-of-design

Clients who saw one product wondered if he would like to turn his hand to something similar. Over the course of his career, this often led him far from his starting point. Pedal cars, for example, would lead to golf carts, to lawn mowers; printing presses would lead to consoles for electronic controls; bicycle headlights would lead to flashlights, which in turn would lead to prismatic lighting fixtures streetlights, and modular lighting systems.


  1. Replies
    1. exactly, thanks for agreeing! 3 months have went by since I posted this, and I could not figure out why no one was as enthusiastic about him as I am, until you commented.