1941-1947 Packard Clipper

1941-1947 Packard Clipper Styling

Packard Clipper styling was largely the result of designer Dutch Darrin's work.
Packard Clipper styling was largely the result of designer Dutch Darrin's work.

How did a company that had never competed stylewise -- a company indeed where "styling" per se functioned under the aegis of Engineering -- come up with a car as beautifully proportioned as the 1941-1947 Packard Clipper?

The answer is simple. Packard had a shrewd director of design, Ed Macauley, son of longtime president/chairman Alvan Macauley, and Ed acquired the aid of the most talented designers outside General Motors.

The quality Ed Macauley brought to Packard was a great "eye" for design, and concomitant ability to sell good designs to a conservative, engineering-dominated management. In mid-1939, Macauley responded to management's need by launching the quest for new lines with his own designers: Werner Gubitz, John Reinhart, Howard Yeager, Phil Wright, and Ed Nowacky.

Then he asked Briggs Body Company, which supplied design ideas to client companies as a service, to consider Packard's problem. Finally McCauley, his father, and Packard's legendary chief engineer Jesse Vincent went headhunting for outside talent, promising riches and fame to three prominent freelancers: George Walker, Bill Flajole, and Howard A. "Dutch" Darrin.

Talentwise, this group was fathoms deep. Packard's great Werner Gubitz had created the timeless styling themes that had lasted the company for a decade; John Reinhart would later help create the Continental Mark II, Phil Wright the Aero-Willys .

Briggs Styling was run by John Tjaarda of Lincoln Zephyr fame, and boasted Alex Tremulis, later to design brilliantly for Tucker, Ford, and Kaiser-Frazer.

George Walker's company would one day produce the handsome 1949 Fords and become intimately involved with Ford styling for a decade; Bill Flajole's ideas for compact and mini cars would influence Nash's early Ramblers and Metropolitans.

But the brightest star in this constellation -- if he said so himself (and he often did) -- was Dutch Darrin.

After having designed custom bodies abroad for over a decade, Darrin had returned home in 1937 to set up his own studio in Hollywood. There he flogged semi-custom bodies to the film community with an on-again/off-again French accent as good as Raymond Loewy's.

In his memoirs of his "safaris" in the automobile jungle, he probably claimed more than he had actually done, but there was little doubt about his influence over the Clipper.

Specific information about how Darrin influenced the Clipper can be found on the next page.

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