This 1954 Kaiser Darrin, another gem from the stellar car collection of Vernon Smith, on display at Vernon’s Antique Car Museum in Swift Current, Newfoundland, is our East Coaster Today.
The Darrin was designed by Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin, an auto designer, who, after a couple of successful automotive partnerships in France after World War II, returned home to California and became an automotive stylist to the stars.
Kaiser was an innovative American automobile builder. The Darrin, like the Corvette from Chevrolet and Ford’s Thunderbird, was an attempt to compete with European roadsters that were gaining traction in America in the early fifties.
The 1954 Kaiser Darrin was the first American vehicle to have a fibreglass body and doors that slid forward into the front fenders. It also boasted a three-position concealable convertible top.
With very little chrome and such sleek, low lines, the Darrin sure stood out from the blinged-out vehicles that plied the roads of America at the time. It was underpowered though, making only 90 horsepower with a 191 CID inline six-cylinder engine and a three-speed manual transmission.
1954 was the only model year for the Darrin. Many of the mere 435 that were built were retrofitted with superchargers to improve power. Apparently, six of the remaining ones in the world were re-engined with Cadillac Eldorado V8s.
The Kaiser company merged with Willys-Overland that same year and the following year produced its last passenger car.
If you happen to be in Swift Current, Newfoundland, be sure to check out Vernon’s collection and keep an eye out for this rare pristine sample of a 1954 Kaiser Darrin.