Checker Designer Herbert Snow
Herb Snow is probably one of the least popular early designers found in the archives of automotive history. Within Checker circles he is equally unknown, but one of his designs for Checker has had significant impact on all Checker fans and the cars we drive today.
Snow attended the Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated in 1906. Soon after he graduated, Snow developed a practical formula for automobile steering geometry. His entire career involved engineering design and it spanned over 50 years from 1906 thru 1960. Snow first worked for the Cleveland, Ohio based Peerless Company. At Peerless, Snow was involved with the Knight Sleeve Valve engine development. After leaving Peerless Snow would move on to work for Willys Overland, Winton, and Velie.
Over the time Snow continued to refine his automotive design skills and ultimately landed a job at the Auburn Automobile Company in July 1927 where he was hired as chief engineer, replacing James Crawford. He was intensely involved in the Cord L-29 front-drive project. While at Auburn, Snow would ultimately lead the development of the landmark classic car, the Cord 810.
We all love our Checkers and more importantly we all love our sturdy X braced frames, this design feature was introduced to ACD by Herb Snow. Years earlier in 1927, Snow was impressed with Lancia Dilambda on display at the New York auto show, it was equipped with an X-brace frame. So impressed, Snow ultimately would utilize this design first on the Cord L-29 then on Auburns.
Snows use of the “X” frame member was a method of adding structural rigidity to a ladder-style automobile frame a feature that now has been used by nearly every automobile company in the world.
Snow's first application of the “X” frame for a rear wheel drive set up was on the 1931 Auburn 8-98. The 8-98 featured an engine by Lycoming that produced 98 horsepower.
The 8-98 carried a base price of $1,195, and top end price of $1,395 - in the Great Depression. Fortune magazine reported the Auburn to be 'the biggest package in the world for the price.' Business Week described the 8-98 as more car for the money than the public has ever seen.