The Kaiser-Frazer Automobile Company introduced the stylish and attractive Darrin roadster in 1954. The company was attempting to revamp their model lineup, and the result was the exciting, image-leading Darrin. The concept of the Kaiser-Darrin roadster was envisioned by famous automotive designer Howard 'Dutch' Darrin. The prototype of the vehicle was built in Santa Monica CA at Darrin's shop at his own personal cost and expense.
Henry Kaiser wasn't crazy about the design of the Darrin, but agreed to produce the small roadster at the request of his wife, who had fallen in love with the vehicle. The Darrin roadster was aimed at a fresh, young and hip market. The Kaiser-Darrin came with plenty of standard components, along with a clean and modern Darrin design that did much to set it apart from all of its competition.
The entire construction and development of the Darrin roadster was completed in barely 13 months. The chassis of the Darrin was taken from the compact Hendry J. Its wheelbase was only 100 inches and perfect for the Darrin. The engine was not taken from the Henry J, but instead was an F-head six from Kaiser-Frazer's newly acquired Willys. The 161 cubic inch six cylinder engine gave the Darrin enough speed to keep up with its sporting image. Complete control of the sportscar was a breeze with the 4 speed manual transmission that shifted easily.
The body of the Kaiser-Darrin was constructed in fiberglass and featured individual sliding doors. The doors were a concept exclusively from Darrin and his fascination with the concept of sliding doors rather than conventional swing-out doors. With the sliding doors the problem of scraping the door on the curb was eliminated and entry and exit was a simple procedure.
The Kaiser-Darrin roadster was unfortunately a very short-lived project as the project was halted after just nine months. Only a total of 435 units were ever constructed. The Darrin roadster was a great example of Post-War America in the 1950s. Today these roadsters are sold at auctions for over $100,000.00.By Jessica Donaldson