The 1954 Kaiser Darrin is considered by many to be the first American fiberglass bodied two-seat sports car, despite the fact that Chevrolet’s 1953 Corvette came off the assembly line first. Announced in 1952 and with prototypes touring the country during the 1953 model year, the Kaiser Darrin came off the Willys assembly line in Toledo, OH for the 1954 model year with a sales goal of 1,000 units. Actual sales fell woefully short of that goal, with a total of 435 Darrin’s built before production ceased after less than a year. It is estimated that possibly 300 Kaiser Darrin car are in existence at this time.
Designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin, an innovative coachbuilder who previously had created limited edition models for Packard, the car was intended to compete with the European sports roadsters that were becoming popular in post-World War II America. Kaiser was a company known for staid, conservative sedans so the idea of producing a sports car was a hard sell to company president Henry J. Kaiser. Legend has it that Kaiser initially rejected the idea saying his company did not build sports cars, to which his younger wife asked “why not?” and said she liked the car! In the end the wife won out and Darrin’s design got the green light for production.
A variety of factors played into the fate (and ultimate demise) of the Darrin. By comparison to competitive vehicles, the Darrin was underpowered compared to competitive vehicles. While the Darrin had an extremely comfortable ride for a sports car, the comfort came at the expense of handling. The Darrin was an expensive car, and Kaiser had attempted to build a reputation as a car that average working man could afford. The Kaiser company was also in poor financial condition at the time and ended up shutting automobile production down at the end of the 1955 model year.
One of the most distinctive features of the Kaiser Darrin were doors that instead of using conventional hinges slid on tracks into a hollow cavity inside the front fenders. Darrin had long been an advocate for this type of doors, likely because he held a patent on the design which might also explain why it was never widely accepted by the automotive industry.
This Kaiser Darrin has been a part of the current owner’s portfolio since October 1998. The car was treated to a respray a few years ago in our shop in the proper white exterior color. The red leather interior presents very nicely and the door operation is smooth. Under the hood is the correct Willys 161 cubic inch Hurricane 6 engine backed with a three-speed manual transmission with overdrive. The chrome on the car is in excellent condition. The car is fitted with the correct wire wheel style hubcaps and sports wide whitewall tires. This appears to be an early production vehicle, indicated by the vehicle identification number to have been the 47th car produced.
Evergreen Digital Showroom offers this exceptional 1954 Kaiser Darrin for a price of $144,900 USD. Pre-purchase inspection is welcome and encouraged. We will gladly assist in transportation for this vehicle at buyer’s expense or will work with any shipper the buyer chooses. For additional information or to make an offer, call sales manager Steve Russell at 417-532-8000. For a sampling of other classic vehicles offered by Evergreen Digital Showroom visit our website, www.evergreendigitalshowroom.com.
Because of the number of vehicles we represent we cannot drive every vehicle for long distances. These vehicles have been part of static displays for long periods of time, in some cases for decades, and are subject to the flaws and imperfections consistent with that. While we do our best to disclose all issues we known about a vehicle in our advertising, these are old cars and something that has always worked in the past might not function properly today. Please check the requirements of your state regarding the licensing and registration of classic vehicles and make sure the vehicle you are looking at meets those if applicable. Unless otherwise noted, all vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom possess a clean (non-branded) title which will be provided the new buyer when purchase funds clear our financial institution. Virtually all our vehicles are sold as mileage exempt due to their age. We do not warranty any vehicle, nor any part of the vehicle including air conditioning systems, brake systems, electrical systems and gauges, fuel systems, accessories or powertrain components.
These are old vehicles and it is very common for them to require certain maintenance and upkeep for them to be operational. In many cases issues with leaks may develop when being driven after a long period of not being used. This is common, as classic cars at some point will leak fluids. For this reason, we do not encourage buyers to attempt driving their purchase home as we cannot guarantee functional reliability of these vehicles. We strongly encourage prospective buyers to be sure they are comfortable with these issues before purchasing a classic car.
Descriptions of vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom are intended to be informational in nature and do not in any way constitute any sort of warranty, expressed or implied. Again, these vehicles are presented “as-is, where-is” without guarantee or warranty. Vehicles manufactured prior to 1981 will likely not be included in the databases of companies such as CarFax and AutoCheck that provide vehicle history information to consumers. If you have specific questions regarding a vehicle we urge you to contact us at 417-532-8000.