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Chicken Coop Find: Kaiser Darrin

1954 Kaiser Darrin Front Corner

Update 7/28/11 – Sold for $22,000!

If you’re into eclectic and rare American cars from the ’50s, then this car is the one for you. This is a 1954 Kaiser Darrin, one of only 435 Darrins ever built, which was recently found in a chicken coop. This Darrin is in need of a complete restoration and can be found on eBay.

1954 Kaiser Darrin In Boxes

This rare American piece of automotive art is sitting in boxes right now and is going to take considerable time and money to put back together. But the finished product will easily be worth the time and energy it’s going to take to restore.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Engine

The original engine is gone, but the seller is including a ’56 Cadillac V8 powertrain in the auction. The weak six cylinder engine the Darrin left the factory with was often swapped out with the Cadillac V8 and even some of the last Darrins built left the factory with the Cadillac engine already installed.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Door

The Darrian was very innovative for its day. It was the first American car to be manufactured with a fiber glass body, beating the Corvette to market by one month. The car also had very unique sliding doors and a 3 position convertible top. The most striking feature of the Darrian has to be its unique styling though, especially the small chrome grill that sits up front.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Front

This Darrian is going to be a major undertaking, but if the seller is correct and everything is still with the car then this should make for a great project. These cars have become extremely popular, especially among the concours crowd, and are becoming very valuable. We hope to see this car back on the road someday.


  1. Micheal Cutchall

    This car was built in Toledo,Ohio!!Talked to a man in Bowling Green Ohio on 7-9-11.He had one in mint condition…

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  2. Darren Swanson

    A couple of quick notes about the Darrin and this car.This is car #18 of the 435. Pretty cool stuff. The first 50 cars are a little different than the rest, although each is pretty unique, in that they were Champaign (white) and had an X pattern on the seats. You can see this in one of the eBay auction photos. The rest of the cars have a horizontal pleat pattern. The next thing is the doors. While all of the Kaiser Darrin roadsters have pocket doors, the first set had slightly shorter doors. This would be one of them.The seller mentions some Kaiser Darrins being built with Cadillac engines, and them providing one would make it “correct.” I’m going to call “foul” on that one. None of the factory built cars had V8, let alone Cadillac, engines in them. They all came with 161 CID F-Head six engines. Kaiser and Willys had merged, and the Willys F-Head (AKA Hurricane six) was used. That engine produced 90 HP. The Kaiser Supersonic (also Willys) L-Head six, also 161 CID, used in some Henry Js was rated at 80 HP.Howard Darrin did purchase 50 cars from Kaiser, after Kaiser ceased production and the board had authorized the disposal of some Darrins that had been left outside over the winter (they had various damage), and shipped them back to California. Rumors, and even some published material, would lead you to believe that he put Cadillac engines in all 50 cars. This is not correct, but he did put some Cadillac engines in a few (the generally agreed upon number by historians and researchers indicates 6 or less) at the customers request. I’m aware of 2 that have been documented/authenticated.While we do not know which car numbers Darrin purchased, you can be sure that car #18 would not have been one of them, as the initial demand and distribution of cars would not have left it sitting at the factory for well over a year. Installing the Cadillac engine, or rebuilding the V8 that currently is in the engine bay, would not be correct or proper for a restoration on this car.Even with my negative comments, I’m a lifelong fan of the Darrin cars (all Darrin designs) and have spent many years researching and following them. I’m very happy that someone out there realized that this car should be saved and hope that the person who purchases this car will contact the right people to make this an absolutely amazing car and then show it and share it with people.Just my 2 cents worth.

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  3. Barn Finds

    Thanks for the comments Darren. You know your stuff about these geat cars. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Tara Schenk

    My father bought a Kaiser Darrin about 30 years ago. It used to be in decent condition and it ran back then but that was quite a while ago. If anyone knows of someone who would like to buy and restore one of these cars I would like to hear from you. I am located in Toledo, OH.

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  5. Mag. KUBELE Martin

    hi,Im interesed to buy and restore a Darrin!, I like it very much pls send me mor infos prizes etcbr from Viennamartin

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  6. Darren Swanson

    Tara, I’ve loved the Kaiser Darrin for over 35 years and have helped many buyers/sellers get together to find good homes for Darrins. I’ve wanted to own one myself, but things have never worked out for me. – contact me at storekeep60 at yahoo.com and I’ll try and help you find a new home for the Darrin. – Next weekend I’ll be at a car show/casual gathering of mostly Kaiser-Frazer collectors and fans and can share photos and information with them if you wish.Thanks.Darren Swanson

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  7. Barn Finds

    Tara, you could always send in a few photos and we could feature the car on the site here. It might be a good way to get it sold.

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  8. Bob Howard

    The chicken coop Darrin #18 finished a complete restoration in march 2023. Restoration was finished by Lee Abrahams the former Darrin manager for the KFOCI and one of the National Judges for KFOCI. The car was restored back original down to the X stich seats.

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