Phone: 520-207-5715   Find the Tucson Auto Museum Get Directions

1954 Kaiser Darrin Roadster

1954 Kaiser Darrin Roadster


To most, the Kaiser Darrin is a bit of a misunderstood anomaly. Developed by car designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin while working as a full-time consultant for the Kaiser Motors Corporation, Darrin introduced the first prototype to Henry Kaiser, who was outraged that Darrin had wasted resources on such a frivolous project, as Kaiser Motors wasn’t in the sports car business.

Darrin informed Kaiser that the project was on his time and dime, and that if the company didn’t take it to production, he would build it himself. According to legend, it was at about this time that Kaiser’s new, younger wife said that she thought it was the prettiest car she had ever seen and that she was certain other manufacturers would begin building similar sports cars.

That was enough for Kaiser to change his tune and order production of the Kaiser Darrin. By the time the car went into production, the sticker price neared $4,000, the same neighborhood as better-known brands offering higher performance and levels of refinement and luxury the Kaiser Darrin just didn’t live up to.

The silver lining was that the Kaiser Darrin actually was a good performer with an outstanding body design complete with “pocket doors” that slid into the front fenders and cowl, an absolutely defining characteristic of the Kaiser Darrin. Between January and August of 1954, only 435 Darrins had been built. This one presents as a remarkable example having undergone a comprehensive restoration. Its fiberglass body is painted in Satin Yellow, and the new, unique three-position convertible top is covered in a matching hue.

The interior is upholstered in Satin Pincrush vinyl with Cal-Point short-loop black carpeting covering the floor. Kaiser Darrins featured a Willys 161/91 HP inline 6-cylinder engine backed by a 3-speed manual transmission with an overdrive, and this example retains that setup. Rolling on wide whitewall tires, the car also features a tachometer, bucket seats with a center console and waterfall, and the ingenious styling of none other than Howard “Dutch” Darrin.

Other Cars You Might Like to View