Leader of the Pack

12 Jan


Dear fellow Flynn fans,

take heart and treat yourself to a Packard! One of those originals Errol used to drive is to be auctioned off:…

The Packard “Darrin” was a remarkable blending of all the glory that was Packard in the Classic Era with all the impudence that was the stock in trade of Howard “Dutch” Darrin. The result was glamour with lots of pizzazz—a perfect fit in the luxury maker’s lineup for an exclusive, halo automobile.

Without Darrin’s insistence, the car likely would never have been built. Following his days in Paris, the inimitable Darrin settled in Hollywood, where he immediately established himself as the purveyor of custom coachwork to the stars. The polo-playing Darrin was quickly accepted by the Hollywood crowd; his well-cultivated French accent fit in perfectly. He named his shop “Darrin of Paris,” and his first client was Dick Powell, for whom he fashioned a two-passenger Ford roadster in 1937. Shortly thereafter, he built a two-seat convertible victoria roadster on a 1937 Packard One Twenty chassis for actor Chester Morris. It led to the idea of building a five-passenger version and selling Packard on the idea of including it as part of its lineup. The initial word from Detroit was no, but that didn’t stop him.

Darrin began with a standard Packard Eight Business Coupe, little of which remained when the transformation was completed. Most memorable were the sweeping cut-down curves of the doors, the car’s signature styling feature commonly referred to as the “Darrin Dip.” The rakish body looked downright racy when compared to competitor Lincoln’s Zephyr Continental, yet the car remained unquestionably and distinctly, a Packard.

Darrin arranged to have the car parked outside the Packard Proving Grounds at the time of the annual dealer’s meeting, precisely where the dealers could not help but see it. That, as they say, was that! Under pressure from its dealers, Packard included the “Darrin” as part of its catalogue for 1940 with three models: Sport Sedan, Convertible Sedan, and Convertible Victoria. It is estimated that 100 were built through 1942 when production was halted prior to World War II. “Darrins” were real celebrity cars—Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, Preston Foster, and Gene Krupa all had one

I wonder if it comes complete with folding down front seats.


— shangheinz


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  1. Gentleman Tim

    January 12, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    Here’s Errol’s version, featured in Peeks of Hollywood, where the starlet beauties are spying down on him from Griffith Observatory, now being celebrated big time in LA LA Land.


    And here’s a more recent peek at Errol’s particulary attractive peach packard:…

    • shangheinz

      January 14, 2017 at 11:30 am…

      Oldtimer Tim, before the Pack Errol had an Auburn-ing desire:… The Speedster had third billing after Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper and played a crucial role. See it here:…

      • Sergio

        January 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm

        whoever posted those pics and documented them, misprinted one; Clark Cable ’55 Duesenberg? Wrong! That was his famous ’35 Duesenberg … But frankly, who gives a dam, I don’t owe it!

        • shangheinz

          January 15, 2017 at 10:07 am


          Sarge Sergio, do you know which model Errol is driving while residing at Linden Drive?

          • Sergio

            January 15, 2017 at 9:56 pm

            That looks like the AC16/80 Convertible or 1930’s MG Roadster – The AC looks almost identical except for the non-wire wheels and no hood ornament on Flynn’s car, of which normally come with it. All else seems identical; the doors especially, no one else has that same cut away style as in Flynn’s and the AC 16/80. The MG comes the close second to it, but that’s it as far as I know?

            European pre-WWII roasters in many ways looked alike, same as cars of today stealing each others styles.

            I tell you what I would like to see; a color version of Flynn’s 1936 Auburn – anyone have a pic of that in color?



            • Gentleman Tim

              January 16, 2017 at 2:19 am

              Superlative, Sir Sergio! By George, I think you’ve got it!

              I’m looking further, but I believe this was one of only four (or fourteen?) special 1936/37 AC16-80 models distributed by the English Motor Car Company. Flynn got one, Cooper got one, and Frank Lloyd Wright. I believe I saw a month or two back one tied to Suicide Freddie McEvoy, too (who likely liked the suicide doors) – one that, if I recall correctly, looked identical or near-identical to the one Flynn’s in.

              Yes, just found. Here, I believe, is Mr. & Mrs. F.L.W. himself, in his! Errol must have ditched the Rocky & Bullwinkle head gear and goggles that came with his.



            • Gentleman Tim

              January 16, 2017 at 3:02 am

              Regarding that incredible Auburn, excellent question. I’d bet it wasn’t subtle, nor auburn in color. Looks like the very ad had Flynn in mind. Can you imagine him racing up and down Lookout Mountain – to and fro Lili – in that beauty!


  2. shangheinz

    January 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm


    It was the car for the fast and the luxurious, Gentlengine Tim.