On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
THE ART of Leo Bestgen enriched the pages of Road & Track for four decades. His illustrations entertained readers of R&T columns ranging from “Miscellaneous Ramblings” through “Side Glances” to my own “Tech Tidbits.” In fact, his loose-but-not-careless style found its informative way into purely technical articles.
Here are several of my favorite Bestgen pieces. Also, another has already appeared at this website: wp.me/p2ETap-c8 includes Leo’s Sherlock Holmes.
His fine character study of friend Innes Ireland was inspired by a post-race photograph of this grand prix driver. Leo recognized immediately that intensity and determination were the theme.
It was always good fun to give Leo the manuscript of a story and see what he’d conjure up. One “Tech Tidbits” column bounced around concepts of iconic industrial design: Raymond Loewy’s Studebakers, Lurelle Guild’s Electrolux vacuum cleaner and other stuff.
Leo and I had a good chuckle over his artistic interpretation of “and other stuff.”
One of Leo’s last contributions to R&T came within two months of his death, at age 61, from a heart attack in 2002. “Tech Tidbits” reviewed a book on Wunderkabinetten, shadowboxes of miscellaneous art and collage. The same column also had details of Mercedes-Benz offering full-size operating replicas of the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen, generally regarded as the world’s first automobile.
Leo and I chatted about an illustration, but instead he proposed his own interpretation of the Wunderkabinett theme.
The pastoral scene in his Wunderkabinett arose through Leo learning that Karl’s wife, Bertha, took the car on a 121-mile round-trip driving adventure in 1888.
I’m not surprised by the dog chasing Bertha and her Patent-Motorwagen. The cowboy encouraging her on? He’s part of the wizardry and charm of Leo Bestgen, rest his soul. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012