Packard Darrins

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Howard “Dutch” Darrin was a prolific designer whose quirky personality made it a drama to work with him, but he was undeniably talented and ended up designing cars for more than one automaker. Today the name Darrin attached to a car gives it special provenance to collectors. How much of that is due to their limited numbers and how much is do to the fact that Dutch Darrin was a gifted designer is unclear, but there was a reason why automakers put up with him. Darrin had a great sense of style and his “Darrin Dip”, a beltline that drops down at the door, is as much of a signature styling element as BMW’s “Hoffmeister Kink”. The Kaiser Manhattans of Darrins are among my favorite 1950s cars.  After Darrin made a series of custom bodied Packards in his California studio starting in 1937, in 1940 Packard boss Alvan Macauley contracted with the designer to use his designs as production cars, resulting in these two Packard Victoria Darrins that were on display at the Packard Proving Grounds’ Cars R Stars show. One reason why Darrin based his Packards on the lower priced 120 model, as opposed to Packard’s flagship chassis, was that it was lighter and lower. Packard’s distinctively shaped upright grille is a challenge for a designer going for low and sleak. That’s one reason why I admire Fran Roxas’ Packard Myth custom and these Packard Darrins.

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