2022 | Geared Online Scottsdale Edition
1954 Kaiser Darrin
$100,000 - $130,000
Striking Design by Gifted Automotive Stylist Howard “Dutch” Darrin
The 22nd of Just 435 Kaiser Darrins Built
A Particularly Clean and Well-Kept Example
Recipient of a Recent Mechanical Recommissioning
Among the Most Exclusive and Exciting Cars of Its Day
Conceived by renowned designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, the distinctive Kaiser Darrin remains an undisputed classic today. Initially a self-funded project by the designer, the Kaiser Darrin entered production for 1954 at the insistence of Henry J. Kaiser’s wife. Targeting the same market as Chevrolet’s Corvette but beating it to market by a month, the Kaiser Darrin combined sensuous open fiberglass Glasspar bodywork with novel forward-sliding doors, a diminutive heart-shaped grille, three-position, disappearing convertible top, and proven mechanicals, including the compact Henry J. Kaiser chassis and “Hurricane” F-head six-cylinder engine from Willys, which the Kaiser company acquired in 1953. Priced slightly above the Corvette, the Kaiser Darrin offered a sportier overdrive-equipped manual gearbox, pleasant driving dynamics, and outstanding fuel economy. Just 435 were built during the entire production run.
This Kaiser Darrin was originally specified in Champagne White, accented by Scarlet vinyl and, by 1997, had been acquired by the Tupelo Automobile Museum for display. Purchased by the consignor in 2019, the Kaiser was treated to a major mechanical and cosmetic recommissioning following its decades of display. To return the car to the road, the owners had their in-house restoration shop disassemble the engine to the bare block for a thorough refurbishment. The gearbox, fuel, and brake systems were serviced, a new top was installed, and the interior and trunk carpet were both replaced. The paint, however, while having been applied decades ago, still shows beautifully. Extensive detailing is evident throughout and the innovative sliding door mechanisms have recently been refined and adjusted.
As one of the most striking designs to emerge during the mid-century sports car boom, the Kaiser Darrin stands as a tribute to the tenacity of the Kaiser company and the design genius of “Dutch” Darrin.