The man behind Von Dutch

A custom building legend with the Midas Touch

The word ‘versatile,’ has been mercilessly bandied with many famous people of recent times but we really think it is appropiate in the case of Kenneth Robert Howard, or Von Dutch, as he is popularly known to his legions of fans the world over. Besides being a motorcycle mechanic of repute, he was also a pin striper, a knife maker, an artist, and a gunsmith.

His father, Wally Howard, was a Los Angeles sign painter; and, by the age of ten, the young Kenny Howard was able to paint and letter at a professional level. The Von Dutch nickname was intended to mean “stubborn as a Dutchman”. In the early 1950s he started of earning money by doing pin striping along with fellow pin striper Dean Jeffries. Von Dutch has been a major influence in the customizing vehicles from 1950 onwards till today. Some of his famous award winning work include the flying eyeball and the custom Kenford truck, along with numerous award winning custom motorcycles and custom cars. Many custom car and motorcycle enthusiasts, regard him as one of the fathers of custom culture in the world.

Von Dutch also designed and produced the Mare’s Leg, a cut-down Winchester rifle for the very famous television series Wanted: Dead or Alive. After a prolonged battle with alcohol addiction, he died in Spetember 1992, but not before he became a poster child of rebellion, biker attitude and creative free-thinking. Kenny Howard’s legacy still endures to this day – the Von Dutch company is now a licensed American multinational brand operating in more than a dozen countries and favored by celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.

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