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FOR MANY years, the talented artist Bill Dobson (1935-2011) did the side view drawings—little gems of automotive art—for Road & Track road tests.
Bill was also a world-recognized authority on many marques, Rolls-Royce and Bentley among them, and for years served as an Honorary Judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. He was also a good friend.
Bill once played a role in the travel of America’s foremost architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and his entourage.
Mr. Wright (as he’s always known to his followers) was an auto enthusiast. His cars ranged from the heights of a Packard Speedster, an L29 Cord, an English AC Roadster, a Bentley and a Lincoln Continental to fleets of American Bantams—and Crosley Hotshots.
Twice yearly, the Wright entourage would make cross-country trips between the Taliesin Fellowship’s Wisconsin summer residence and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mr. Wright always drove something lofty; his apprentices were assigned the Crosleys.
And this is where Bill Dobson enters the picture. It was a spring day in 1951, the Dobsons living in Bethany, Oklahoma, along Route 66. A 16-year-old car nut, Bill was hanging out at the dusty courtyard of the local two-pump gas station.
Limping into the gas station came a 1940 Lincoln Continental, with two young men aboard evidently in need of mechanical aid. And Bill was just the kid to offer it. He ran home, returned with his tool box, helped jury-rig a fix on the Continental and wished the guys well as they sped off heading east.
Bill’s artistic bent was already strong, and he immediately began sketching the car’s details from memory. Its customized features included a chopped windshield, semicircular rear-quarter windows giving the car an almost nautical appearance—and no rear window whatsoever.
It was quite the exotic for a 16-year-old car nut in Bethany in 1951. And it was quite the reunion when Bill saw Mr. Wright’s Continental 42 years later at the 1993 Pebble Beach Concours. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2012