The Kaiser-Darrin was a car made by Kaiser-Frazer between 1952 and 1954. The car was designed by Howard "Dutch" Darrin.
Howard built a clay model of his car in the first half of 1952 and this was then followed up by a running prototype. He did this without the knowledge and authorisation of the Kaiser Organisation by spending his own money on the project. The car he had built was a two-seater sports car.
The Darrin was a typical two-seater convertible but it had several unusual features. It's body was made of fibreglass and it had a three-position folding roof. The car also featured sliding doors as well as a small, high shell-shaped grille. The curvaceous lines of the Kaiser-Darrin were typical of designer “Dutch” Darrin
Some practical considerations had to be put into place for the production Darrin, but only one of these was to Dutch’s liking. This was the reworked front fenders to put the headlamps at regulation height. Other alterations Included separate lids for the trunk and top well (the prototype used a single rear-hinged cover), a one-piece (instead of split) windshield, a more professional interior with pleated vinyl upholstery (the prototype’s leather trim was made optional) and a revised dash with gauges clustered ahead of the wheel (instead of spread across the panel).
The Darrin was fitted with seatbelts wich had only been the second time they had appeared in U.S. on a production vehicle. The engine was a F-head Willys version of the Henry J six, with single carburetor. Glasspar who were the pioneer builder of fiberglass boat hulls and kit cars were contracted to supply Darrin bodies.
The Darrin did not his showrooms unit 1954 ad with a lofty $3668 price tag, it cost more than a Cadillac 62 or Lincoln Capri. It was well fully equipped with a 3-speed manual transmission (with overdrive), tachometer, windwings, electric window wipers, whitewall tires etc. The performance wasn't too spectacular as it was less than Chevrolet's new Corvette but a couple of superchared versions of the Darrin were among the quickest sports cars in 1954.
Only 435 Darrins were built and today there is more than 300 surviving examples which is unusual for a car with such a small production figure.