Kaiser Darrin Roadster (1953-1954)
Article by Mark Trotta
At the 1953 New York Auto Show, Kaiser Motors announced it would be producing a fiberglass bodied sports car. Among the car's unique features was the patented pocket doors that slid forward into the front fenders, and a three-position Landau top.
In 1952, designer Howard "Dutch" Darrin enlisted the Glasspar Company in California to make a prototype of a car design he built out of clay. The convertible body was fitted onto the chassis of the Kaiser Henry J, with power from a 161ci six-cylinder producing 90-horsepower. With a body hand-crafted from fiberglass, the Darrin weighed just 2,175 pounds and had the lowest center of gravity of any American production car at the time.
The new sports car was called the Kaiser-Darrin 161, after the engine displacement that powered it. The Willys F-head motor produced 90 horsepower, enough to propel the little car to 100 mph. Transmission was a floor mounted three-speed manual with overdrive.
First Fiberglass Sports Car
The Kaiser Darrin was the first production fiberglass-bodied sports car sold in America, beating the Corvette to market by one month. After two short years, the Darrin sports car was discontinued. This was due in large part to the company's worsening financial situation. In all, less than 500 Kaiser Darrins were built.
Read More: Classic Cars Through History