Barney Roos

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Delmar G. "Barney" Roos (1888 – February 13, 1960) was an American automotive engineer who served as Studebaker's head of engineering from 1926[1]:p237 to 1936,[1]:p247 specialising in straight-eight engines. He later worked for the British Rootes Group in the design of Humber, Hillman and Sunbeam Talbot cars. During World War II, he returned to the USA and co-designed the famous Willys Jeep, experience which was later applied in advising the British Motor Corporation (BMC) on constant-velocity joint design for the Mini.

Early life[edit]

Delmar Roos was born in the Bronx and attended Manual Training High School, Brooklyn, New York, then studied for degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering at Cornell University. He gained distinction as a photographer —a picture he took of a three-horse fire-engine team was syndicated throughout the world[2]— and as an athlete (winning the intercollegiate and national fencing championships).[1]:p248 He has been described as tall, well built and handsome, and a brilliant conversationalist on art, drama, economics, politics and science.

On graduating from Cornell in 1911, he joined General Electric and worked under Sanford Alexander Moss on steam, gas turbine and centrifugal compressor development. In 1913 he went to Locomobile as assistant research engineer. In 1919, he was assistant to Pierce-Arrow's David Fergusson and succeeded him briefly as chief engineer in 1921 before rejoining Locomobile as chief engineer. After an intermediate stint with Marmon in 1925, he succeeded Guy P Henry as Studebaker's chief engineer in 1926.

He was married to the former Frances Schreiner. They had one daughter.

Work at Studebaker[edit]

Barney Roos joined Studebaker just as that company's Detroit, Michigan operation was being transferred to South Bend, Indiana. He oversaw the relocation of the entire engineering department and personnel into a new building. He redesigned the Standard Six and Big Six engines and made other changes to the 1927 model range.

Roos had considerable experience with eight-cylinder engines, having designed the Locomobile Junior Eight and the Marmon Little Eight. Neither was outstanding but the extensive basis of experimentation gave rise to the Studebaker straight-eights, beginning with the President Eight, announced in January 1928.[1]:p238

Work at Willys[edit]

After working on a one-year temporary assignment for the Rootes Group in England 1938, Roos was ready to come back to the Unites States.[3]

Roos accepted an offer by Ward M. Canaday, president and major shareholder of Willys-Overland Motors, to become the automaker's Executive Vice President and Chief Engineer.[4] "He made his biggest dent in automotive history when he laid his hands on the World War II Jeep."[5] He was responsible for the design that ultimately became the military Willys MB.[6]

Roos also worked to develop the Willys Go Devil engine. It was the most powerful and durable of the three prototype reconnaissance vehicles that were evaluated by the U.S. Army for production in 1940.[7][8] The Go Devil engine became famous in the Willys MB Jeep produced during World War II powering all the Jeep vehicles built for the U.S. and its Allies, as well as a variety of later civilian Jeep vehicles.[9]

Later life[edit]

Roos largely retired after Kaiser Motors acquired Willys.[4] Roos died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the age of 71.


  1. ^ a b c d Hendry, Maurice M. Studebaker: One can do a lot of remembering in South Bend. New Albany: Automobile Quarterly. pp. 228–275. Vol X, 3rd Q, 1972. 
  2. ^ Faber J Great news photos and the stories behind them Courier Dover Publications 1978, ISBN 0-486-23667-6, ISBN 978-0-486-23667-4, pp 22-23
  3. ^ the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (13 December 2007). "1906-1939 Jeep". HowStuffWorks. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Donnelly, Jim (February 2012). "Barney Roos". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Strohl, Daniel (12 April 2009). "SIA Flashback – Barney Roos, an Engineer’s Engineer". Hemmings. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Foster, Patrick R. (2014). Jeep: The History of America's Greatest Vehicle. Motorbooks. p. 31. ISBN 9781627882187. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Statham, Steve (1999). Jeep Color History. Motorbooks. p. 24. ISBN 9780760306369. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Green, Michael; Stewart, Greg (2005). Humvee at War. Zenith Press. p. 13. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Willys-Overaland Jeep advertisement". Life 14 (7): 13. 15 February 1943. Retrieved 23 November 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hartwell D The Mighty Jeep American Heritage Magazine, Vol 12 No 1, December 1960