1954 Kaiser Darrin RoadsterSOLD

RM Auctions - The Ponder Collection - Texas - April 20-21st, 2007

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ESTIMATE: $60,000 - $80,000

OFFERED WITHOUT RESERVE

$90,200 Sold

90hp, 161 cu. in. F-head inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission and overdrive, independent front suspension and live rear axle. Wheelbase: 100”

The Kaiser-Darrin Roadster was conceived by famed automotive designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, who built a prototype in his Santa Monica, California shop at his own expense. Although not enthralled with the design, Kaiser-Frazer principal Henry Kaiser agreed to produce the small roadster after his wife had waxed enthusiastic about it. Aimed at a young and affluent male market (the same market targeted by Corvette), the K-F Roadster used standard components from the company’s parts bin. Despite that, the very clean, very modern Darrin design set it apart from its competitors. From start to finish, the Roadster’s entire development process took only 13 months.

The Kaiser-Darrin’s chassis was taken from the pint-sized Henry J. Its 100 inch wheelbase was the ideal length for Darrin’s design, so too was the driveline. In fact, several of the Henry J’s components had only to be recalibrated. Just the engine, which was an F-head six from Kaiser-Frazer’s newest acquisition Willys, wasn’t derived from the Henry J; it provided the car with enough pep to match its sporting image.

The Kaiser-Darrin’s fiberglass body had what was (and probably is today) one of the motoring world’s most unique features – sliding doors. Darrin was fascinated with the concept of the sliding doors as an alternative to the conventional swing-out style. Several potential problems were eliminated with this setup; for example, scraping the car’s door on a curb was no longer a concern, and entry or exit from the car in tight parking spaces was a snap.

Unfortunately, the Kaiser-Darrin was a short-lived concept. Production came to a halt after nine short months, during which only slightly more than 400 examples were sold. Because of this, Kaiser-Darrins are an important reminder of the technical innovation and experimentation that characterized the optimistic outlook of postwar America in the 1950s.
The 1954 Kaiser-Darrin Roadster presented here is finished in Palm Beach Ivory and was restored some time ago. The interior, which is not original to the car, is comfortable and like the rest of the car is quite presentable but beginning to show some evidence of aging. The engine is painted green and is fitted with a single Carter carburetor. With wide whitewall tires, chrome wire wheels and unique styling, this Kaiser-Darrin would make a distinctive statement at any cruise or other gathering of 1950s automobiles.

Reference Number 7607

as of 2/27/2007

Overview
Car 1954 Kaiser Darrin Roadster
VIN 161001219 
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