Very few Australian’s have ever heard of Stan Parker.
And yet he designed one of our most enduring cultural icons.
For it is Stan Parker who designed the 1963 EH Holden
Stan began his career at GM in February 1953.
He worked in various styling studios and was in the Buick studio when GM’s then design boss, Harley Earl, ordered him to add 40kg of chrome to the sides of a prototype 1958 Buick.
It is automotive legend that Parker worked all through his lunchtime, adding the chrome to the Buick’s rear fenders.
When Mr Earl returned he complained bitterly that it looked as if Parker had only added 30kg, and was told in no uncertain terms to “put more on”.
Needless to say, the 1958 Buick is not seen as a styling masterpiece these days.
In mid-1961 Stan was given the task of improving the styling of the EJ Holden by GM’s newly appointed design boss, Bill Mitchell.
Mitchell did not like the shape of the prototype EJ which has been styled in Australia and ordered that it be revised in the USA where he had control over its development
Not only that, Mitchell had Stan shape the EJ’s successor, the EH.
Despite its humble EJ origins, the EH looked to be a completely restyled car.
Stan’s inspired idea to adapt the wide, flat formal rear pillar from the 1962 Cadillac on a Holden lifted the car from the ordinary to high style.
Australian car buyers responded and bought over 250,000 EHs.
It was a sales record that Holden has never bettered.
By May of 1963 Stan was in charge of design for Cadillac.
It carried with it the responsibility of shaping the cars of GM’s most prestigious division.
And Stan did not disappoint.
From his studio emerged some of Cadillac’s most storied designs, including the fabulous 1967 Eldorado.
That the Cadillac was really the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado underneath, and shared many common aspects, including the roof, windscreen and cowl — is a testament to Stan’s ability to give new form to what others had shaped.
The svelte 1975 Cadillac Seville was also from Parker’s studio.
Again, he did well to disguise its humble Chevrolet Nova underpinnings.
When you look through Stan Parker’s design resume it is clear that he preferred cars with clean sides and razor sharp lines.
That his resume includes two iconic automobiles on two continents, EH Holden and the Eldorado, is demonstrable evidence of his versatility and influence.
David Burrell is the editor of retroautos.com.au
CHECKOUT: Lapine worked in super secret studio X
CHECKOUT: JFK death car refitted and reused