Motoring Art Website

The art of uk motoring artists

Coombs Roy Montague

Year working: Lived 1910 – 2001

A very important commercial artist for the Rootes group yet because so little of his work is signed his talent is unrecognised. It would appear that he was the principal motoring artist at Astral Design having effectively taken over from Frank Wootton. Astral were the agency that produced artwork for the Rootes Group in the 1950s to 60's. Here is a life summary prepared by his daughter Rose who also assisted with illustrations.---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Roy Montague Coombs 1910 - 2001 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Born 04.09.1910 in Kingston, Surrey. Moved to Ealing c. 1914. Went to Little Ealing School and left school age 14. Trainee Draughtsman with engineering firm. Won scholarship to Kingston College of Art – scholarship transferred to evening classes as had to earn living. Studied under artist Mark Gertler (among others). Worked in Art Agency. Married in 1934 – profession on Marriage Certificate – Commericial Artist. Some freelance work but during depression small market for artworks. Moved to Midlands during the war and carried out war work in Coventry. I think working for Hawker Siddeley. This included turning engineering blue prints into easy to follow diagrams for workers to follow in the building of aircraft. Member/Secretary of the Midlands Art Group c. 1940. November 1943 exhibited at The Modern Art Gallery Ltd, Haymarket, London SW1. The exhibition featured well-known European artists such as Cezanne, Renoir etc. and “Paintings by Two Young English Artists Roy Coombs (and) Alan Pinder” Started working freelance for Astral Marketing, mainly working on brochures and posters for Rootes Group cars (one of these posters unsigned seen in the V&A museum. See attached photo of another poster). Moved to Lymington, Hampshire in 1949, where he remained until his death. Continued working with Astral Marketing and Rootes Group up until the early 1960s, when photography took over from painted artworks. It would appear that in the mid 1960s he was working with Artist Partners Ltd an organisation that serviced several motoring companies. Continued working freelance with mixed work such as yoghurt pots, seed catalogues, book and magazine illustrations. One book featuring motoring art: Motor Bike (author: Mike Bygrave, published by The Archon Press 1976) illustrated by Roy Coombs and others. See photo attached of front cover, illustrated by Roy Coombs. Continued working freelance until c. 1990.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I used to have an entry for an artist called Coomz which said ' Did adverts for Standard cars in 1935 and a front cover design for The Autocar magazine advertising the Rootes Group on 4th December 1936. Full page colour advertisement for Humber cars in The Motor 15th March 1938.'-------------------------------------------- We now know that Coombs and Coomz are the same persion. Coombs used the pseudonym in the 1930s . The proof lies with a self portrait owned by the family and Signed Coomz 1934. It is also understood that he used another psuedonym LeRoy after leaving the Rootes/Astral work in an effort to dissociate himsef from motor art.

Further reference


The artist Roy Coombs image courtesy of Martin Coombs.

Humber catalogue 1938. See RMC registration.

Original painted and lettered colour rough for Humber brochure

1949 Motor Cycle magazine front cover. Note motorcycle registration RMC 49.

Original painting for Humber Hawk Mk5 circa 1953. Image courtesy of Steve Lewis.

Hillman Minx Mk 8a circa 1956 has similar awnings and buildings. Not signed but almost certainly by Coombs.

Humber Super Snipe brochure cover design featuring the snipe mascot 1954.

Sunbeam Alpine sales brochure dated October 1964

Hillman Inp Californian sales brochure 1967

1903 De Dion illustration. Unusual that it is signed.

1976 Motor Bike book cover.

Artwork for 1960 Humber Super Snipe MkIII

Plymouth cars illustration for Spanish market. Shows Coombs solely represented by Artist Partners Ltd.

1934 self portrait signed Coomz

Standard Cars brochure 1936 signed at low right COOMZ

Standard 9 brochure 1936. Signed at low right COOMZ