Once Lost, Now Found: 1954 Kaiser Darrin

1954 Kaiser Darrin Grill

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At first glance we assumed this car was the same one we featured in July. Turns out it is another 1954 Kaiser Darrin. Considering that there were only 435 ever built it seems strange that we would find two in similar condition within a few months of each other. This project might be in little better condition than the last one and the asking price reflects that. The car is located in Cannon Falls, Minnesota and is listed for sale here on eBay with bidding at $5,877 and a BIN of $35,000.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Side

These cars are rare and this one was actually thought to be lost by the Kaiser registry. The seller does not mention how they discovered it, but we are sure it is an interesting story. This car may look rough in the photos, but they can look amazing after being restored and are popular at Concours events these days.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Engine

This Darrin comes with the original Supersonic Six engine and transmission. The single carb inline six is not the most potent of power plants, but we like that it is original to the car. After Darrin production ended, a few of the left over cars had Cadillac V8s fitted, so it would be tempting to make the swap. That would jeopardize the originally of this car though, so we would probably rethink that if this was our project.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Hood

The body looks like it is in good condition and the seller mentions that the hood and trunk are reproductions costing around $2,000. It is missing many trim pieces but the seller makes some suggestions for replacements. He states that the bumpers can be pulled off a 1953-1954 Henry J and that the gauges are the same as those found in the 1949-1951 Frasier (with a color change). The seller had some new firewall tags made and listed the paint code as a special order color. It was originally a Champaign color, but they were going to paint it black.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Interior

The seller sounds very knowledgeable about these cars so it may be a good idea to use their shop for the restoration, but they are booked out for the next 6-8 months so you may want to find another avenue. You would need to be a very skilled restorer with deep pockets to take this one on, but it may just pay off financially with excellent examples selling for well over $100,000.

1954 Kaiser Darrin Sliding Doors

The Kaiser Darrin was a very innovative sports car in its day. It was the first  American sports car to feature a fiberglass body, beating the Corvette by a month. The best feature of the car though was the sliding doors. They may be a pain to align, but we cannot think of another car that has doors which actually slide into the body. It is wild to see today, and must have been astonishing in 1954!

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  1. Bob

    I think the 1952 Woodill Wildfire was the first production fiberglass U.S. sports car, even though I don’t think they built over 400 of them

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  2. His Royal Flatulence

    The 1989-1991 BMW Z1 also had doors which slid into the body, but vertically rather than horizontally. That was almost 40 years later though.Kaiser Darrins are rare and desirable cars, and even decades ago weren’t exactly cheap. Uncovering a previously unaccounted-for example was really quite a find. Even at the BIN price there’s plenty of room to absorb restoration costs, and a good home restorer, especially someone who’s skilled with fiberglass, could actually make some money on this one. I’m not that person, but if I had more play money I’d still be rather tempted by this.

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  3. Terry Trasatti

    The Woodill was a kit car, not production.Originally, it was installed on a Ford ’39 chassis.

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