BF Auction: 1954 Kaiser Darrin

Sold for $56,000View Result

UPDATE – The seller has added more photos! Included with the car are an original owner’s manual, a factory parts list, vintage photos, and brochures.

There are several strategies a car company can employ to bolster flagging sales, from a complete model revamp to producing special editions of existing offerings. History demonstrates that one of the least successful is to release a “halo” model to entice potential buyers into the showroom. It was the path that Kaiser selected in 1954 when it released its Darrin sports car. Although it featured some distinctive and innovative design elements, they weren’t enough to boost the company’s bottom line. This Darrin is an original classic that would benefit from a cosmetic restoration. However, if the new owner wished to preserve it to carry its survivor badge proudly, that is a viable approach. It needs a new home, with the seller listing it exclusively here at Barn Finds Auctions.

Viewed in profile, the Darrin’s styling carries more than a hint of typical British sports cars from the 1950s. However, a few elements help it stand out from the crowd. The first is the distinctive grille, which almost looks like the car is blowing the world a subtle kiss. More radical is the door configuration. If owners found themselves in a tight spot, the fact these doors slid into the front fenders rather than opening on traditional hinges would have been a blessing. One construction aspect it shares with the 1954 Corvette is that both feature bodies made from fiberglass. The body is unmolested, but the panels have a few cracks. Fixing these to a high standard would be worthwhile since spotless vehicles regularly change hands for six-figure sums. The Powder Blue paint is cracked in multiple spots, and stripping it away to start the painting progress from scratch would be wise. It sounds like a lot of work, but a new owner with reasonable skills could complete many of the tasks in a home workshop. The trim looks suitable for a survivor-grade car, and there are no glass issues. This car has been on display in a private museum until recently and a thorough inspection of the brake system would be advisable in the interest of safety.

Powering the Darrin is a 161ci six-cylinder engine that sends 90hp to the rear wheels via a manual transmission with overdrive. The ace up this classic’s sleeve is its weight because it tips the scales at a mere 2,360 lbs. To place that in perspective, the Corvette weighs a significant 480 lbs more, which explains why it requires nearly 70% more power to show the Darrin a clean set of heels. The power output may have been modest, but the Darrin could still cover the ¼-mile in a respectable 19.5 seconds. The engine bay presentation of this car is tidy, and it doesn’t flatter to deceive. It has a genuine 29,115 miles on the clock and runs and drives well. Once again, if a new owner chooses preservation, this aspect of the vehicle is up for the challenge.

The Darrin’s interior is all you might expect for a vehicle of this type. It features two bucket seats, an array of vital gauges in the driver’s line of sight, and a stubby shifter poking through the floor. It is purposeful, with no radio or other automotive tinsel. The condition is good for a vehicle of this age. The White upholstered surfaces show no rips or tears, and there are no signs of abuse. The gauges feature clear lenses and crisp markings, while the dash pad is in good order. The painted surfaces exhibit some cracks that the new owner might choose to address as part of a cosmetic refresh. The same is true of the wheel, but everything would be fine if the new owner elects to leave the interior untouched.

The 1954 Darrin was an experiment that didn’t work. There was nothing wrong with the design or execution. It simply wasn’t enough to get feet through dealership doors. Kaiser predicted a production total of 1,000 cars for its halo model but never came close to that figure. The company’s sales total plunged from 31,272 vehicles in 1953 to 5,818 in 1954. The Darrin contributed a mere 435 to that figure, with the model disappearing before the year’s end. However, a car that was unloved when it was new has become a desirable classic today. If you yearn for a rare American sports car, this could be the one for you.

See the rest of the Kaiser-Frazer Collection here!

  • Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
  • Mileage: 29,115 Shown, TMU
  • Engine: 161ci Flathead Six
  • Transmission: Manual
  • VIN: 226K2178887
  • Title Status: Clean

Bid On This Auction

Sold for: $56,000
Register To Bid
Ended: Apr 18, 2023 12:04pm MDT
Winner: NicktheInvestor (Sold)
  • AstonDBV
    bid $48,500.00  2023-04-18 12:01:21
  • southwest collector bid $48,200.00  2023-04-18 12:01:15
  • AstonDBV bid $48,000.00  2023-04-18 11:58:57
  • southwest collector
    bid $46,200.00  2023-04-18 11:58:33
  • AstonDBV bid $46,000.00  2023-04-18 11:58:26
  • southwest collector bid $42,800.00  2023-04-18 11:57:35
  • AstonDBV
    bid $42,500.00  2023-04-18 11:57:17
  • j3cub bid $42,300.00  2023-04-18 11:54:33
  • southwest collector bid $42,200.00  2023-04-18 11:53:40
  • j3cub
    bid $40,600.00  2023-04-18 11:45:46
  • AstonDBV bid $40,500.00  2023-04-18 08:09:26
  • southwest collector bid $40,300.00  2023-04-17 11:00:01
  • J4Co
    bid $35,700.00  2023-04-13 07:29:08
  • Scott L. bid $35,500.00  2023-04-11 17:54:00
  • Darrin 502 bid $25,200.00  2023-04-11 15:29:10
  • J4Co
    bid $25,100.00  2023-04-11 13:38:44
  • psirotary bid $25,000.00  2023-04-11 09:59:29
  • Kcrolex1 bid $23,000.00  2023-04-10 20:56:09
  • Hauser Weiler
    bid $22,900.00  2023-04-10 15:51:04
  • PMD1965 bid $22,600.00  2023-04-10 11:09:09
  • jeffout bid $12,000.00  2023-04-10 10:24:09
  • Nick
    bid $9,100.00  2023-04-10 10:01:34
  • amqjr bid $9,000.00  2023-04-10 09:34:25
  • Gordon bid $8,200.00  2023-04-10 05:18:26

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. Camerlengo

    I’m sick of these Kaiser cars.

    Like 21
    • AMCFAN

      What an dumb thing to say. This is a very nice collection that took many years and a great amount of money to obtain. It is featured here in its entirety. Commenting on a vintage vehicle website comments like this do nothing. Kaiser vehicles are not my thing but can respect their position as an automaker. Significant to you or not.

      Henry Kaiser was a very interesting man. He was a shipbuilder during the war.
      He took those profits to go into the automobile business. Many factors determining the difficulty after the war to produce a car. It takes more than throwing money. We can see that now with the vast amounts of EV makers jumping on the scene and the damage it’s inflicting on the legacy automakers.

      Personal to me was the Kaiser broadcasting in Parma Ohio. In the early 70’s was KBF access chanel 61. It was still being broadcast on black and white until it was sold off in 1975. With it went Ron Sweed AKA The Ghoul and Froggy. End of an era.

      Like 18
    • Terrry

      Ever sit inside of one or drive it if you did? You’d be surprised.

      Like 4
      • John Jasper

        We had a friend of my dads that had one when I was a kid. They are tight and ride like a Cadillac. No rattles or noise. Just a sound car. But his was very new so I guess you would expect that from a new one.

        Like 1
    • MICK George.

      Did not notice on the other cars that they have converted the side valve 4 to an OHV 4 AND IN THE PROCESS CREATED A CROSSFLOW engine.The big 3 never had a cross flow 6 for decades and here we have an Inderpendent maker with one in 1956.I agree with your comment about the Kaiser cars if it wer’nt for the Inderpendents the big 3 would still have mechinical brakes.Mick George. Australia.We had a thriving car industry but were shut down by both the government and cheap imports and the lack of understanding by GM and Ford.

      Like 2
      • Rick

        The 161 L6 is actually an F-head. The intake valves are in the head. The exhaust valves are in the block.

        Like 3
    • Tman

      Sounds like you need to see an attitude specat Kaiser

      Like 0
  2. Howie

    These are really cool with those doors, i have seen a few, but a little on the small size.

    Like 2
    • Gerald Edgar

      Same as ‘vettes of that era – not to be a family car! :-)

      Like 1
  3. Mike M

    Bucket list car for me (and a lot of other people with way more means to get one!)

    Like 5
  4. Gerald Edgar

    Given barely 400 were mfg and obviously with any vehicle that’s 70 yrs old, a lot will have been wrecked, scrapped, etc. There can’t be very many of these left, esp. in this good of condition. Anyone from a Kaiser enthusiast group know?

    Like 1
    • Babu

      Yes, Babu says not many left.

      Like 10
    • duaney

      Most Darrins are still left. If I remember there are 250-300 known in existence There is a Darrin registery with the exact number. Someone familiar with the registry will probably speak up .

      Like 2
    • Nick A HockmanMember

      I heard the majority have survived. They didn’t have windows so normally were kept inside. A few were in a barn and were to far gone but most have been saved. Dutch Darrin did a few with his personal touch after kaiser stopped selling them. I have one that he redid red and and installed a special intake and dual carb setup. I am not a red fan so I plan to let it go at some point. I have not had time to pick it up and found a yellow one closer to home. Would love the carb setup on the Dutch Darrin car however I don’t want to mess up his creation.

      Like 2
  5. NickMember

    If it stays below 15k I would be a great deal!

    Like 1
    • James

      It’s not selling for 15k. I would be shocked if the reserve was under 40k.

      Like 1
      • Nick A HockmanMember

        I think it will land around the 35 to 45 mark in the condition. Expensive to fix. Looks like it was redone in vinyl material. My advertisement says they came with leather. It’s what one of mine has.

        Like 0
    • duaney

      The cheapest of these sell for around $75,000. Showroom $125.000 and up

      Like 2
      • Johnny

        Aston is bidding against himself. Is he a real bidder?

        Like 0
  6. Jim Sartor

    Was going to bid on books or model until I saw $250.00 minimum buyers premium, even on these items. So, no thanks.

    Like 1
    • Joe

      Those smaller items are just 15% buyers’ premium with no minimum.

      Like 1
    • Joshua MortensenStaff

      Hi Jim,

      We are waiving the minimum fee on all the books, the model, and the tiller!

      Like 0
      • jim sartor

        great. thanks

        Like 0
  7. Braxton Williams

    Holy mackerel if I thought this would sell for 12,000 bucks I would buy it immediately. But in truth I don’t have enough money for this thing but these things never come up for sale I mean this is a super rare car and an American icon.

    Like 3
  8. CarbuzzardMember

    The story behind the Kaiser-Darrin was a bit more unusual than most, and not based on anything close to a rational business decision. In this case, it’s what you do to keep your trophy wife happy. Or so the story goes.

    I could relate the whole thing here, but I’m lazy, and also, I’ve written it before. With the host’s forebearance, a link:
    https://rememberroad.com/how/i-4/kaiser-darrin-in-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time/

    Like 2
  9. Terrry

    Easily a six-figure sale if the car is in excellent shape.

    Like 3
    • Alan

      Are you a buyer? I have 9 near perfect. I was hoping to get 45 to 50 but would be glad yo sell to you for 60k each

      Like 0
      • AstonDBV

        Hey Alan,
        We will see where this one goes but I’d be interested in learning more about what you have.

        Like 2
      • j3cub

        Hey Alan, like AstonDBV, I would also be interested to learn more about the cars you have for sale.

        Like 1
      • Alan

        I am out of the country this week on vacation and was told to stay off my phone

        Like 0
      • jmolsnMember

        Alan – When you’re allowed back on the phone I’d like to talk to you about a Darrin. Thanks. Jim O

        Like 0
  10. Glenn SchwassMember

    I have never seen a group of Kaisers like there is on BF today, except for a bunch in a bone yard that was cleared of them 30 plus years ago. (And apartments are being built on soon) They are sure different looking.

    Like 1
  11. John EderMember

    Every one of these listings reminds me of Weird Al’s “The Rye or the Kaiser.”

    Like 0
    • Scott L.

      Thanks, John. Now I hear it, too.

      Like 0
  12. Oldtrips

    Any indication of what the original color was?

    Like 0
    • Stu PMember

      That’s a good question, Oldtrips. The title says blue but I don’t think any were that color from the factory. It appears the car was totally re-done at some point because the frame is nicely painted and all jambs, underside of body, etc. are the same blue. We’ve been unable to discover any hint of another color.

      Stu

      Like 1
      • Oldtrips

        Thanks. I presumed that was not an original color.

        Like 0
  13. Nick A HockmanMember

    I wish you could click on bidders name and see their history of bidding and how long they have been a bidder. I have a feeling there is some fake bidding.

    Like 0
    • Joshua MortensenStaff

      We verify every bidder’s identity, so I don’t think there are any fake bids here. I went through each bidder’s registration and everything checks out. The current high bidder registered to bid on a different auction back in June of 2022. We have bidders with verified addresses in Michigan, Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and Connecticut.

      Like 1
      • Nick A HockmanMember

        That’s nice to hear but would be better if we all could see the history of the bidders and commenters.

        Like 0
      • Gordon

        I am a buyer 35000 cash

        Like 0
  14. AstonDBV

    Did it say that the car has a clean title?

    Like 0
    • Stu PMember

      Yes, clean title.

      Like 0
  15. Stu PMember

    Yes

    Like 1
  16. Joshua MortensenStaff

    Underside photos have been added!

    Like 1
  17. AstonDBV

    Thanks for the underside photos. I was wondering about that…
    Do you know if that’s a “helper” leaf spring on the right rear or something else?

    Like 0
    • Rodney Bridges

      Good catch. That is a helper spring, a cheap way to temporarily fix the sag. Never seen one on a Kaiser Darrin. Notice a few things done strangely on this one

      Like 1
  18. Alan

    @AstonDBV Looks like you are serous. If you don’t get this one reach out. I have 3 green, 4 yellow and 2 white all in similar conditon. Also have a db 2/4 project.

    Like 1
    • AstonDBV

      Hi Alan,
      I thought we stepped up pretty strong for this car but looks like the owner isn’t quite ready to sell. How would I be able to reach out to you?

      Like 2
      • AstonDBV

        I registered as a member of Facebook “Kaiser Darrin Sports Cars”

        Like 1
  19. Chris Menrad

    Interesting that the paint code and interior trim code both denote “special”. The standard colors for the Darrin did not offer a blue. So wondering if it was painted blue originally or if another color outside the original 4 (red, white, pale green and pale yellow) was used and this was a repaint? Also what was the original interior color on this one? What makes this car cool is the special color designation outside the original 4 offerings. Anyone have any thoughts about that?

    Like 1
  20. Nick A HockmanMember

    Does the motor seem to have a lot of valve noise? Mine does not tap like that. Is it just the recording?

    Like 1
  21. Stu PMember

    Nick,

    Yes, you’ll notice a little roughness and lifter noise as that was the first start-up after sitting for quite some time. It smoothed out shortly after that.

    Stu

    Like 2
  22. Terrry

    It would be fitting that a lady named Samantha buys this Darrin.

    Like 0

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