1954 KAISER-DARRIN ROADSTER
Chassis No. 1611166
Pine tint with pine tint interior
Engine: inline six cylinder, F-head, 161ci. giving 90bhp at 4,200rpm; Gearbox: 3-speed manual (Warner R-10 with R-11 overdrive); Suspension: coil sprung independent front, leaf sprung solid rear axle; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
Howard "Dutch" Darrin started designing automobiles in the 1920s at the famous Le Baron design studio which produced some of the most memorable and important classic designs for Duesenberg, Packard and others. After several years in Paris at the firms of Hibbard & Darrin and Fernandez & Darrin, Dutch Darrin returned to the U.S. where he was retained in 1950 by Henry J. Kaiser to bring some style to the floundering line of Kaiser automobiles. Darrin accomplished this with characteristic authority and flair, starting with Kaiser's sedans and coupes and culminating in the creation of the Kaiser-Darrin Roadster. Announced in 1952, roadster deliveries began in 1954.
The Kaiser-Darrin was a styling statement, with a distinctive small grille (supplemented by additional openings hidden behind the bumper to provide adequate cooling air flow), fiberglass body and unique doors, that rather than being hinged, slide into the front fenders. The small Kaiser F-head (overhead intake, side exhaust valves) six cylinder produced only 90bhp but with the Darrin's light-weight (only 2175 pounds dry, over 500 pounds lighter than the 1954 Corvette) and a 3-speed overdrive transmission it gave more than adequate performance. Light weight also helped the Darrin's handling and braking, both of which were rated favorably by contemporary testers. Total production, which lasted just one year, was only 435 cars, including pre-production models assembled at Jackson, Michigan before the newly-merged Kaiser-Willys Corporation began series production in Toledo, Ohio.
The previous owner of this Kaiser-Darrin was Mr. Charles C. Steiner, the owner of Steiner's Auto Repair, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio. Steiner, a 20-year hobbyist, restored the car himself between 1971 and 1976. The car was complete and running when Steiner acquired it. Following restoration he used it sparingly in shows and parades. When the current owner purchased the car it came with thirty six trophy's! Many of them People's Choice. The actual car offered has also been featured in Car and Parts magazine. There are about 10,000 miles on the car since the complete restoration and the mileage today is some 46,699 which as verified by Mr. Steiner is believed from new. The current owner has again used the car sparingly and last year he showed it at the exclusive Pasadena Concours D'Elegance. He mentions that the Kaiser Frazer Club is very active (compared to the Packard and Gullwing groups) with monthly newsletters, local and national conventions and offers plenty of advise on topics such as parts availability. The combination of good performance, limited production and world class styling by Howard Darrin, a designer recognized for his creativity, makes this Kaiser-Darrin an excellent opportunity to enjoy a very collectable milestone car.