The various models were distinguished by different engine choices and detail changes, and were built and sold in parallel to each other. A number of examples were built as one type and converted to another during their lifetimes. The DGA-11, powered by a nine-cylinder 450 horsepower (340 kW) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Juniorradial engine, was purportedly the fastest four-seat civil aircraft of the late 1930s, able to achieve a top speed of about 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). A favorite of the high society and Hollywood circles, the DGA-11 cost about $16,500 in 1938. These aircraft were a direct developments of the famous Howard racing plane Mister Mulligan. Designer/pilot Ben Howard's "DGA" prefix stood for "Damned Good Airplane".
The DGA-6's racing success brought the DGA series much attention, and in its various permutations, differentiated mainly by different powerplants, the DGAs -8, -9, -11, -12 (and later DGA-15) emerged as coveted aircraft, owned by corporations, wealthy individuals, and movie stars, such as Wallace Beery, who was himself a pilot. Spanish conductor and pianist Jose Iturbi owned and flew a DGA-11 “El Turia” (NC22402). In an era when airlines were flying DC-3s, the Howards at 160 to 170 mph (270 km/h) could match their speed and range. The rear seat exceeded airline leg room with limousine-like capaciousness. With its high wing loading, the Howards rode through most turbulence with airline-like solidity. The -11 was probably the ultimate of the series. Configured as a four-place aircraft, with the 450 hp (340 kW) Pratt & WhitneyR-985, it is graceful and powerful with perfectly classical lines.
With America's entry into World War II, most of the civilian Howards were commandeered by the military. The Army used them as officer transports and as ambulance planes. They were used variously as an officer's utility transport and for instrument training. The Howard was and is an excellent instrument platform, very stable and solid, especially compared to modern light aircraft.
A number of these aircraft still fly, and another especially beautiful example of a DGA-11, restored by the renowned restorer and inventor, Jim Younkin, can be seen in the Arkansas Air Museum.