Howard "Dutch" Darrin was born in Cranford, New Jersey in 1897. Early in his career, Darrin worked at the family company, Automatic Switch Company in New Jersey, designing complex electrical switching systems, including the first push-button elevator switch used by Otis Elevator, experience which later stood him in good stead coping with the mechanical complexities of coachwork including folding-top mechanisms, his famous sliding-door system and relocating the steering column and wheel for lower cowl and hood lines.
Following the war, he signed on with Kaiser-Frazer as a freelance consultant, and was almost solely responsible for both the 1947 Kaiser and Frazer sheetmetal. His deal with Henry J. Kaiser paid him a 75 cent royalty for each Kaiser-Frazer car built.
In the late 1950s Dutch was asked if he thought the custom body shops of the time contributed anything to automobile styling. He replied that the fellows doing such work were handicapped from the beginning by starting out with poorly designed cars. Especially the early 1950s cars. He thought the proportions were all wrong, so when they attempted to improve the styling of the car, they could only do so much unless they got into major body changes including sectioning. Changes being made for grilles and rear ends were almost always for the better according to Dutch. In reshaping headlights, grille ovals, molding in seams, re-contouring rear fender panels, these fellows were learning automobile styling by doing. Something Dutch thought the pencil pushers in the styling studios should do too. According to Dutch "A master at sculpting only learns his craft by constant practice at it; these backyard custom boys are doing just that. When they popularize a particular feature on a car - such as many of them have done by installing the large Packard and Lincoln taillights of a few years back - then you can be assured that someone in Detroit styling studios is making notes of this activity. At leas, Detroit becomes cognizant of what the custom boys like in the way of particular styles."
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