Eight Pioneers Inducted into Automotive Hall of Fame

In addition, four young automotive leaders honored for their contributions to industry

by on Oct.13, 2010

The Automotive Hall of Fame inducted eight new members. From left are Bill Chapin, AHOF president; Kate Jordan Wallace, daughter of Edward "Ned" Jordan; Francois Castaing, retired vice president of engineering for Chrysler; Jeff Mahl, great-grandson of George Schuster; Patrick Darrin, son of Howard "Dutch" Darrin; Rusty McClure, grandson of Lewis Crosley; Bill Tilden, former historian with the Kaiser-Frazer Owners Club International; Henry M. Kaiser, grandson of Henry J. Kaiser; and Stephen Polk, chairman of the AHOF board.

During the automotive age, countless numbers of forward thinkers have contributed to the car as we know it today.

These pioneers all envisioned a new type of device or a new way to make or sell it, despite naysayers, critics and doubters telling them that it couldn’t be done. They persevered because of what they alone saw for the future.

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Pioneering!

On Tuesday, eight more of the industry’s most influential people were inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn. In addition, four young automotive executives were honored for their contributions at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.

Bill Chapin, the hall’s president, described the induction ceremony as the automotive world’s equivalent of the Academy Awards. It’s the highest honor a person in the industry can achieve.

Inducted in the 2010 class were:

• freelance automotive designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin
• master auto advertising writer Edward “Ned” Jordan
• brothers Powell Crosley Jr. and Lewis Crosley, founders of the Crosley car company
• Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph Frazer, partners in the Kaiser Frazer car company
• George Schuster, win of the Great Race in 1908.
• Francois Castaing, former Renault, AMC and Chrysler executive, and the only living recipient.

Darrin’s son Patrick Darrin his father had a passion for designing beautiful automobiles.

“He fought with more people in the automotive business than any other designer,” Darrin said.

Kaiser’s grandson, Henry M. Kaiser, told the several hundred people who attended that his father was an eternal optimist.

“Henry J. loved the limelight,” his grandson said. “But he also believed in the power of teamwork.”

Bill Tilden, former historian for Kaiser Frazer Owners Club International, Frazer was proud of his accomplishments in the auto industry.

“He was most pleased to have three automobiles named after him or by him,” Tilden said.

Rusty McClure, grandson of Lewis Crosley and great nephew of Powell Crosley said the pair were best friends and excellent business partners because they were so different. Powell was the creative genius behind their radio company and later led their foray into the automotive business, but it was Lewis who made it all work.

“This is a story of two opposites,” McClure said.

George Schuster drove the Thomas Flyer for the American team in the 1908 Great Race, which demonstrated to the world the capabilities of this new-fangled contraption, the automobile. Schuster completed the 22,000-mile course in 169 days, a racing record which still stands.

“These were men of steel and certainly, George N. Schuster’s can-do attitude kept the American team moving ever westward,” said Jeff Mahl, Schuster’s great-grandson, in accepting the induction.

Kate Jordan Wallace, granddaughter of Ned Jordan, famed automotive advertising writer and founder of automaker Jordan Motor Co., said she didn’t know anything about her grandfather’s history in the automotive industry until recently.

While most auto ads of the time simply extolled the features of cars themselves, Jordan’s ad titled “Somewhere West of Laramie” signaled a change toward painting the picture of a lifestyle, giving little detail about the car itself.

“There’s a savor of links about that car – of laughter and lilt and light – a hint of old loves – and saddle and quirt. It’s a brawny thing – yet a graceful thing for the sweep o’ the Avenue,” the ad reads in part.

Francois Castaing, former vice president for vehicle engineering at Chrysler, revamped the 6,000-member engineering group into platform teams, in the late ‘80s. He also helped created the iconic Dodge Viper.

“We didn’t reinvent anything,” Castaing said. “We just looked back on how things were done (by other automotive experts).”

In addition to the hall of fame inductees, the four young auto executives recognized were:

• VeRonica Mitchell, lead mass integration engineer at GM
• Christopher Son, director of investor relations and corporate communications at supplier AAM
• Andrew Sexton, director of powertrain sealings and bearings in the Asia Pacific region for Federal Mogul
• Damoni Hurt, marketing manager for commercial vans for Ford.

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