November 12, 1901
Industrial designer Alexis de Sakhnoffsky was born in the Ukrainian city of Kiev in what was then the Russian Empire. He fled his homeland by 1920 in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution and ended up pursuing a wide-ranging design career that included many transportation makes and models.
Throughout a large part of the 1920s, de Sakhnoffsky lived mostly in Switzerland and increasingly focused on preparing designs for various European automotive clients. These clients included Rolls-Royce; Mercedes-Benz; and such Belgian coach builders as Lejeune A. Fils Aine and D’Ieteren Freres. He eventually established a worldwide reputation for high-quality automotive designs.
In 1928, de Sakhnoffsky made his way across the Atlantic Ocean to work for the Michigan-based Hayes Body Corporation. As an employee of that company, de Sakhnoffsky developed designs for Hayes customers like Auburn Automobile Company and American Austin Car Company. His unique streamlined designs, which highlighted both modernity and efficiency, struck a chord with the American public.
De Sakhnoffsky, who became a U.S. citizen in 1939, also developed contours and chassis for the automotive heavyweights General Motors, Packard Motor Company, and White Motor Company, to name just a few. He gained renown as well for designing the streamlined delivery trucks used by the Ontario-based Labatt Brewing Company; these vehicles transported the company’s beverages from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s and became popular fixtures on Canadian highways.
De Sakhnoffsky’s other designs involved a variety of non-automobile projects that ranged from the set for the 1937 comedy film classic Topper to kitchen items. He also developed designs for other types of transportation, including vessels for the Feather-Craft Boat Company; travel trailers for the Fleetwheels Company; and bicycles for Murray Ohio Manufacturing Company. De Sakhnoffsky died in 1964 at the age of 62.
Photo Credit: Coachbuilt.com, Inc.
For more information on Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, please check out http://www.coachbuilt.com/des/d/desakhnoffsky/desakhnoffsky.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_de_Sakhnoffsky