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Please note this vehicle is titled by its body number.
Conceived by renowned designer Howard Dutch Darrin, the distinctive Kaiser-Darrin remains an undisputed classic today, confirmed by inclusion within the America on the Move: ’50s Sporty Cars commemorative stamp issue from the US Postal Service. Initially a self-funded project by Darrin, the Kaiser- Darrin entered production for 1954 at the insistence of Henry 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 small heart-shaped grille, three-position convertible top, and proven mechanicals, including the compact Henry J chassis and “Hurricane” F-head six-cylinder engine from Willys, which Kaiser acquired in 1953. Priced slightly above Chevrolet’s rival Corvette, the well-equipped Kaiser-Darrin offered a sportier manual transmission, pleasant driving dynamics, and outstanding fuel economy. Just 435 were built for 1954.
This particularly desirable early-production example is the seventh of the 435 Kaiser- Darrins built for 1954,handsomely finished in its original colors of Champagne White with red vinyl and a matching three-position top. Already a multiple award winner under the ownership of Mr. Harry Van Pelt Jr. – which spanned 26 years – the Kaiser-Darrin was acquired by its current consignor in early 2010 as a complete and highly original example. As offered, it benefits from a professional and complete body-off-frame restoration to factory-correct specifications. The painstakingly thorough two-year restoration process was recently completed in May 2013. The frame was stripped and powder-coated for a highly durable finish, and all mechanical systems were rebuilt and restored. Englewood, Colorado’s Rev Motors rebuilt the 161 cid F-head “Hurricane” engine, manual transmission, and overdrive unit. The highly regarded upholsterers at Auto Weave retrimmed the interior with expert care taken to respect the specific seating characteristics this Kaiser-Darrin shared with the rest of the first 50 production examples built. All of the vehicle’s instruments were restored and recalibrated as well.
Well sorted, the Kaiser-Darrin has enjoyed limited and careful exercise since its restoration was completed; according to the highly knowledgeable consignor, it is the best of five examples he has owned to date and “drives like a dream.” Beautifully presented and complete with restoration photographs, this early-production 1954 Kaiser-Darrin roadster is quite likely one of the finest extant, providing a most fitting tribute to its legendary designer and champion Howard Dutch Darrin. As such, it provides an exceptional opportunity to acquire and enjoy a truly innovative and rare American sporting landmark from the “Fabulous Fifties.”