Fancy A Darrin Dip? 1954 Kaiser Darrin

Reader George A. has sent us this extremely rare find–a 1954 Kaiser-Darrin roadster, complete with its “Darrin Dip” side styling! Not only that, but it’s for sale here on eBay and there’s no reserve! You can find this pretty roadster in Williamsburg, Virginia, a fine place to convince your significant other and kids to take a vacation to when you go pick it up!

We don’t know a lot about this particular car, which is about halfway through the production run of around 435 cars (this one is serial number 234). The seller does tell us that it is as solid on the underside as on the top side of the car–which is great because the body is fiberglass, so at least it won’t have rusted.

As you can see, the doors and trunk lid have been removed, and they are with the car in the trunk area. It’s great to see that the windshield appears intact, as I imagine that would be difficult to find. I’m pretty sure those wheel covers are original as well, although I think they should have center caps. Many folks had problems with the sliding door mechanism (yes, they slide into the front fenders!) when new, so it’s possible the doors were removed to remedy something. Or perhaps it was being painted?

The license plate dates from either 1966 or 1970-71 based on pictures I was able to find. I can’t read the decal in the upper right corner, perhaps one of you can? Of course, since it’s not attached to the car we really don’t know if it was intended for this car or not, but the fact that it comes with a clear Florida title points somewhat in that direction.

I love the intact dashboard and how it looks like it wouldn’t take much at all to get this car looking good again.

Here’s the engine. Looks like it would fire right up, doesn’t it? So what do you think–are you interested in a little “Darrin Dip” in your life?


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  1. Bill

    I’ve always liked these cars. This one won’t take a lot to get it restored. Hope it finds a good home.

  2. Wilhelm Brauer

    Seems like it would overheat quickly in California or the Southwest. That little grill opening makes me wonder. This were interesting cars. I’ve seen two of them on the road in my life. One is the western addition in San Francisco and another in Morro Bay, CA.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Wilhelm, Mr. Darrin took that into account. I believe, there is a small scoop below the front bumper to pull in air through an opening behind the bumper.

      • Terry T

        The scoop indeed augmented the small grill. To aid both. the radiator was from a1948 military Jeep—much larger than that used in a Henry J with a Willys 161 L-head.

  3. flmikey

    I am curious on what this car will do…there are two others on ebay…a junker for 56K from a dealer and a super nice one with bidding at 20k from a private party with a zero rating…super cool find…..

  4. Glenn from Wisconsin

    Didn’t Kaiser only have a 6 cyl flat head engine? Looks like an engine substitution from here.

    • Mike

      This was the f-head 161 cu in Willys motor. The Kaiser flat head was the 226 cu in that was in their larger sedans.

      • Bill McCoskey

        if I remember correctly, the Darrin was actually produced in the Willys Factory, and the engine is the correct one.

      • Terry T

        The Kaiser Darrin factory was in Jackson, MI. The Frazer 4 door convertible was produced in that same factory

      • Ed P

        @Bill, All Kaiser production was shifted to Toledo for the 54’s. Willow Run was sold to GM (to replace the burned out Hydramatic plant) in ’53.

  5. Adam Wright

    There was one recently used on the show Man In The High Castle, which is ironic considering it’s a show about German’s ruling the world. But there was a 356 in the background.

    • JoeBazots

      I saw that and had do do some looking to see what kind of car it was. I guess they figured the scenes it was featured in were in Germany…and it’s a Kaiser…so, there’s that – even though it was an American made car…

  6. Fred W.

    “Many folks had problems with the sliding door mechanism (yes, they slide into the front fenders!) when new, so it’s possible the doors were removed to remedy something. Or perhaps it was being painted?”

    I think the door is there, it’s in the open position and has been slid into the fender.

    • CliffS Member

      The passenger side door has definitely been removed and is in the trunk area, you can see it in the pictures.

  7. Joe Haska

    I would think this is a great find, and from pictures only, it looks like it could be a mostly a painless restoration. If the price stays affordable, someone is going to get a great opportunity to get a pretty rare car, for a price that would make it a very good buy, especially in the long run!

  8. Bobsmyuncle

    I’d be questioning when those photos were taken. What are we looking at, scanned prints, or photos of a computer screen? Regardless weren’t likely taken last week.

  9. Howard A Member

    The story behind this car reads like a Hollywood movie. (is there a movie about this car? Well, there should be) This car was suppose to have an inhouse OHV V-8, but Kaiser lacked the funding, and then an Olds V-8 was considered, but GM doubled their price halfway through negotiations, so they went with a modified Henry J motor, and in ’53, when they merged with Willys, they used this motor, long considered the failure of these ( among other things, Kaiser was going down anyway) When Kaiser went under, Howard Darrin brought as many as he could to Cal. and supercharged some, and some got a Cadillac V-8, ( like 6, imagine if you had an original of those) I would probably make a Cadillac Darrin clone. Just a beautifully styled car, perhaps a little too stylish for Americans at the time it was introduced in 1952.( 2 months before the Corvette) Needed more oomph! Unbelievable find.

    • Ed P

      The early Corvette was powered by the 235 Blue Flame 6 coupled to a Powerglide. Until the Chevy v8 arrived in 1955, Corvettes lacked power also.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Ed, I’d think even the ’53 Corvette would eat this thing for lunch. A ’53 Corvette would do 0-60 in 11 seconds, this, 14.6 seconds.

      • Ed P

        Thanks. I suppose a 235 ohv I6 would beat a 161 F head I6 @ 90hp

    • Bill McCoskey

      I was at the Kaiser-Frazer National meet in Gettysburg, PA a few years ago, they had a Cadillac powered KF-161 [AKA the Darrin] cars there. If I remember correctly, they had a totl of 7 Darrins at the show.

  10. Eric 10Cars

    Up over $30K with 4 more days to go. I’d like to know the story behind this one. Sure looks solid from the pix.

  11. Rustytech Member

    Every one I’ve ever seen has been fully restored and is a B/J or Mecum’s auctions, and usually bringing low 6 figures. I expect this is going to reach near $60k before it’s done. Looks like a great project, but definitely out of my price range.

  12. Adam T45 Staff

    This is why I love this website. This is another car that we never saw Down Under. A really interesting looking car, and I’m not sure if it’s my imagination, but it seems to have a hint of early 50’s Maserati about it.

  13. John

    One of the first cars that I can remember. My Dad took me to the auto show, I think in Rock Island, or Moline. I was about 5 or 6. But I watched as a very pretty girl (I must have been 6) opened and closed those doors. I was watching the doors, everybody else was watching the girl. Chevrolet had the Corvette on their stand the same year. It was red and white and had chromes wire screams over the headlights. Those two cars are probably why I’m reading Barnfinds today.

  14. Eric Pitman

    A friend of mine in high schools father had one of theses and several other cool cars in a fully finished basement/ small muesam, Bill could use the cars as long as we cleaned them and put them back! Don’t remember ever taking the Kaiser out

  15. Charles Hixon

    These fiberglass cars were faster than a 1954 Corvette

  16. Terry T

    Ed P is only partially correct.


    • Ed P

      I never heard of that factory, but I will take your word for it. Do you know if that location was a Kaiser or Willys facility?

      • Terry T

        HJ Kaiser leased a part of the Walker Muffler plant for build of “specialty vehicles.”
        Several weeks ago, I took a tour of the old Darrin production line in that same building. My intention was to have a Kaiser Darrin meet at a local private museum and caravan to the line for a photo op. Although the building is clean and well lighted, the only entrance were loading docks, no ramps for us to use.
        Cancelled plans…at least for now!!

      • Ed P

        Thanks Terry.

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