Anton Schwarzkopf was a very innovative designer, having created several coasters that have had a monumental impact on the coaster industry. His designs are dotted throughout the country, and his work has been praised numerous times by coaster enthusiasts. And although his company had many financial issues, it is one of the most recognized as a result of that impact. And up until his passing in 2001, Anton's remarkable know how and sharp mind assisted him, even long after his retirement.
Anton was born in Behlingen Germany in 1924, to the parents of Maria and Anton Schwarzkopf. His father happened to own a cartwrightery, which manufactured caravans and trailers for circuses and showmen. Later on in 1954, however, the company began working on amusement rides and performing alterations on them. Eventually this turned into a sort of business for them. A year later after Anton's son Wieland, who today manages a modern version of the company, was born, Anton began the planning of his first actual attraction, Dusenspirale. In 1960, Anton took over his father's company, and began on what would pan out to be 35 years of making coaster history.
Four years later, he created his first steel coaster, Wildcat. It was about this time that he formed his famous partnership with fellow prestigious coaster designer Werner Stengel. He and his team did the statistics and dynamic calculations of Anton's designs, as well as the developing of pipe bending machines. In addition to the formation of the partnership, it was also about this time that Anton's company started production of cylinders for cement mixers, ensuring a second leg for the company for at least the next ten years. In 1968, he designed the first Jet Star coaster, a model which would have several variations throughout the next two decades. He also created the Speedracer model, which would later be fundamental to a major leap in the industry.
That major leap came about in about 1975, about the same time Arrow Dynamics was developing the corkscrew inversion. Anton figured out a way to make the loop, which had not been seen since the 1900's, more comfortable than its turn of the century predecessors. The modern, clothoid, vertical loop was born, and it was used in one of Anton's many opus magnums. Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain, or, Magic Mountain as it was known at the time, opened to much fanfare in 1976, just in time for America's bicentennial. Anton had combined the loop with his Speedracer model to form the Looping Speedracer. This meant that Revolution was much more than just a loop, as it included many elements such as the long straightaway that led up to the loop, and the tunnel that sent the train right through the center of it. The introduction of the vertical loop changed the industry forever, as it paved the way for many of the batwings, immelmanns and zero-g rolls we see today.
Continuing on with the vertical loop, Anton applied it to several more coasters, such as Sooperdooperlooper at Hersheypark in 1977, the first looping coaster on the east coast. That same year, he designed the first version of his shuttle loop model. The coaster utilized a weight drop system, and the first installations consisted of King Kobra at Kings Dominion, White Lightnin' at Carowinds and Tidal Wave at Great America in California. Anton improved the launching mechanism in 1978 by replacing the weight drop system with a flywheel. The second version of his shuttle loop was headed by Montezooma's Revenge at Knott's Berry Farm. Several more models which utilized Anton's loop included Double Looping and Katapult.
The 1970's were an immense success for Anton, a drastic contrast from how the 1980's turned out. As the 80's began to unfold, it became evident that although Anton was a genius in coaster designing, he was unfortunately not a genius in finances. His company experienced two major bankrupcties in this decade, the first of which occured in 1983. This bankrupcy actually ended up changing a bit of coaster history, as this was about the same time as Anton was designing his flying coaster. This was another new model, and this particular installation was to go to Busch Gardens Europe. When the project was forced to fall through (with only the footers laid), Arrow Dynamics picked it up, having already created their Suspended coaster concept, and completed what is now known as Big Bad Wolf. This became one of Arrow's first successful suspended coasters, and one of Anton's first and really only failure as far as his coasters were concerned.
His company's second bankruptcy occured a few years later in 1986, when he was again developing a major coaster... though luckily this one didn't fall through. That coaster was Thriller, which started out in Germany and later appeared in America as Texas Tornado at Six Flags Astroworld and Zonga at Six Flags Marine World. His company continued on for nine more years, designing a few more coasters such as Olympia Looping before eventually, Anton Schwarzkopf retired from the industry in 1995. Thirty five years of innovative designing came to a finish, and Anton spent his later years suffering from Parkinsons Disease. Finally, six years after his retirement, the legendary coaster designer unfortunately passed away on July 30th, 2001.
Anton, pictured to the left, was one of the greatest and most influential designers in the entire history of coasters. His memory lives on however, in his son Wieland Schwarzkopf, whose company manufactures trains with updated overhead restraints, and manufactured spare parts up until at least 2000. In addition, Hubert Gerstlauer, who was a former manager for Schwarzkopf and founded his own company in 1981, purchased former production facilities of Anton's company. Anton Schwarzkopf may be gone, but his designs let alone his impact on the coaster industry will continue to influence the history of coasters for many years to come.