Who is Rob Roy ?

Birth of an artist


Rob Roy (pseudonym of his name Robert de la Riviere ) is born in Mont-de-Marsan (south west of France), on october 3rd, 1909. Early in his life he already had a passion for automobiles and drawing..

Rob Roy never stopped drawing, painting or sketching the things that happened to him. He had an inborn need that pushed him to continually perfect his gift for observation which enabled him to seize the moment, the movement and the action. Thanks to his talent, he knew how to bring to life the vintage racing cars from the Great Era: his drawings are the prestigious legacy of those days long gone.

His talent for drawing and his love for cars came from his father who was an excellent caricaturist and an animal painter, of horses in particular, the means of transport of that era. In fact, his father was a precursor, owning one of the first internal combustion engine cars years later- a De Dion Bouton. In 1913, he bought a twelve hp Rochet-Schneider.

Driving aces of after war

With the advent of World War I, the French automobile industry lost its momentum but soon after 1918, car manufacturing resumed and races were organized under the authority of the French Automobile Clubs. In 1926, Rob Roy went to the greatest event in the world for the first time, the Le Mans 24 hours Race. It was a love at first sight and Rob Roy became a regular fascinated and attentive spectator of the duels fought by such driving aces as Varzi, Nuvolari, Chiron, Sommer, Ascari, etc…. Filled with enthusiasm for these new cars, Rob Roy sketched all of this on paper.

At sixteen, he drove the new 18 hp Rochet-Schneider under his father’s watchful eye. It was a real “truck” with it’s heavy transmission and no starter. Nevertheless, he already felt like the “king of the road”. Between 1920 and 1930, Rob Roy did his military service. At his request, he was sent to Versailles as an instructor to the 19th train-auto battalion, which help him greatly in deepening its mechanical know-how.

In 1930, Rob Roy gets his first drawing assignment, covering the Bordeaux Grand Prix for the newspaper La Petite Gironde. His drawing already revealed real talent allied to a very personal style. Fascinated by Bugattis but unable to afford his dream, Rob Roy bought his first car, a Salmson, and decided to convert it into a “sports” car, which meant taking off the whole body and fitting a bucket seat like those of the testdrivers of that time

Motorbicycle and boat

Still unable to afford a more modern car but hungry for more mechanical thrills and adventure, Rob Roy discovered the motor cycle, and considering it to be “like a horse”: invented motorcross in the sand dunes of Royan!

He then got to know André Sirejols. He bought a second-hand 1000cc BNC from him, which allowed him to participate in many rallies and hill climbs, one of the most famous being the “Bol d’Or” in the forest of St Germain-en-Laye 

He continued to illustrate posters and catalogues. Since colour photography was not yet commercialized, his drawings were extremely valued and were often found on the covers of many auto and sports magazines such as Moto Revue, Action Auto, L’Equipe…

Thanks to success of his drawings, Rob Roy at long last realized his dream and bought a supercharged T43 Bugatti, and with a whole bunch of fanatics and future champions (Sommer, Baudroy, Pison…), he drove all over France.

Then, encouraged by his friend Charles Escoffier, a motor boat afficionado, he threw himself into a new venture, the motor boat.

World War II

In 1939, World War II was declared and he joined the 3rd Tank Battalion near Reims . In june 1940 he was taken prisoner by the SS Panzers and sent to a camp in Krems , Austria , from which he escaped in December 1940 and rejoined his family in March 1941. Rob Roy legacy of these dramatic and violent times is a lively, colourful and detailed “war diary”.

The Fifties

After the war, Rob Roy goes back to an intense professional life, mainly in the automobile industry. Most of his pare time is dedicated to his friends, the great aces of the time. He would also be part of world of racing even if times had changed.

An accomplish artist

In the Fifties, Rob Roy gives up the world of the automobile competition, quite a number of his former friends having disappeared or withdrawn from the circuits.

Courageous, energetic and passionate character, Rob Roy continues to paint for his pleasure the racing cars of the great time, with more and more accuracy for the technical and historical detail, and doing this until the end of his life in October 1992.

Association des Amis de Rob Roy 243 Bld Raspail 75014 Paris. T:0143208710
Email :association.robroy@orange.fr