1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025

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Lot 95
Chassis number 1
1953 KAISER-DARRIN SPORT CONVERTIBLE

Sold for US$ 198,000 inc. premium
1953 KAISER-DARRIN SPORT CONVERTIBLE
Coachwork by Howard Darrin

Chassis no. 161.001001
Engine no. 3495025

161ci OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Carburetor
90bhp at 5,400rpm
3-Speed Manual Transmission
Independent Front Suspension – Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Drum Brakes


*Chassis number 1, the very first production Kaiser-Darrin
*Exceptional restoration to factory specifications
*Believed to have been shown at the 1953 Los Angeles Auto Show
*Innovative and epic automotive styling
*A legend of 1950s motoring



THE KAISER-DARRIN SERIES 161

The Kaiser-Darrin, designed by the revered Howard "Dutch" Darrin, was America's first production fiberglass sports car. Its prototype was built before the Corvette, although production did not begin until 1954. Darrin's design became a legend of 1950s motoring, with sweeping front fenders that plunged behind the doors into a "Darrin dip" and a distinctive "rosebud" grille, which was commented as always looking like it wanted to give someone a kiss.

In the bustling years after World War II, American roads were peppered with ever growing numbers of European and British sports cars. American servicemen returning from overseas duty were bringing with them nimble little cars with gutsy engines and sleek styling. American manufacturers wanted in on the action, but nobody had a suitable car ready to compete with the European invaders. Ford and GM started work on their own interpretations of a sports car, while the independent Kaiser Motors also decided to toss their hat in the ring. To compete with the imports, swift action was needed, so Kaiser enlisted the famed industrial designer Howard "Dutch" Darrin to produce a fiberglass-bodied sports car based on the compact Henry J. economy car.

The first prototype appeared at the New York Auto Show in 1953, just besting Chevrolet's Corvette to become America's first fiberglass production sports car. Beyond the sweeping profile and heart-shaped grille, the Darrin was most famous for its pocket doors that disappeared into the front fenders on sliding tracks. Construction of the fiberglass bodies was outsourced to Glaspar of California. Power was courtesy of the Hurricane F-head inline six producing about 90 horsepower. Unfortunately, Kaiser Motors Corporation could not compete against the marketing might of GM and Ford, and ultimately just 435 examples were built, all sold as 1954 models.


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

Of the 435 Kaiser-Darrin automobiles produced, a certain few are standouts of desirability. Collectors covet the last handful of cars that were sold by Dutch Darrin himself. The very earliest examples are also very collectible as they featured several detail differences from the standard production cars. The car offered here is a standout among even the most historic of known Kaiser-Darrin automobiles, as it is chassis number 161.001001. This is the very first production car built and the very car that was displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1953, and is therefore hugely important car to Kaiser-Darrin enthusiasts and collectors alike.
The earliest examples had a few detail differences that set them apart from the rest of the production run. Full chrome wheel covers differ from later wire wheel covers. The front fenders wear Darrin script badges while later cars only got the script on the trunk, and a slightly different license plate bracket and light are fitted.

Kaiser-Darrin chassis number 161.001001 has been well documented. After being shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 1953, the car is believed to have taken part in the Pasadena Rose Parade that same year. In 1956, the father of Paris Finch purchased it and it remained in the Finch family for several decades. In 1973, 161.001001 was restored by renowned Kaiser Darrin expert Buddy Holiday, and subsequently shown at events such as the Kaiser National meet by Mr. Finch's son, Paris Finch. The current owner had been aware of the car since the 1980's and kept in touch with the Finch family for many years until he was able to acquire the car. It was since comprehensively but carefully restored to a very high standard and now presents in exceptional condition, in its original paint and trim combination of 153-7200 (Champagne white over correct red vinyl trim). This is arguably the most significant Kaiser-Darrin in existence and it carries with it an exceptional history to compliment the beautiful restoration.

Footnotes

  • Please note that this car is titled as a 1954.
Contacts
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
1953 KAISER-DARRIN  SPORT CONVERTIBLE  Chassis no. 161.001001 Engine no. 3495025
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