Amelia Island

10 March 2012

Previous Next

Lot 123

1954 Kaiser-Darrin Roadster

  • Chassis no. 161001358

Sold for $97,350

Model KF-161. 90 bhp, 161 cu. in. F-head Willys “Hurricane” inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with wishbones and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 100"

• Landmark early American fiberglass-bodied sports car design

• Limited production

• Freshened restoration

The distinctive Kaiser-Darrin roadster, conceived by renowned designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, remains an undisputed American automotive icon. Aimed at the same young and affluent market as Chevrolet’s Corvette, the Kaiser-Darrin combined a sleek fiberglass body with a three-position convertible top and mechanical components sourced from the company’s parts bin, including the compact Henry J chassis and the F-head “Hurricane” six-cylinder engine from Willys, which Kaiser acquired in 1953.

At $3,668, the Kaiser-Darrin was costlier than a Series 62 Cadillac or a Lincoln Capri but offered plenty of standard equipment including a tinted windshield with washers and comprehensive instrumentation including a tachometer. Production began in January 1954, but when Henry Kaiser changed his business focus from automobiles to healthcare by purchasing an interest in the Permanente hospital chain in California, production halted with 435 Kaiser-Darrins built. Some 50 unsold cars were parked in the Willys storage lot. Darrin was incensed and acquired the lot of them, which he eventually completed and sold over the next few years.

This fine example was acquired by the current owner-collector in 2010 with its older restoration remaining in very good condition. Since then, the Kaiser-Darrin has been elevated to its excellent present condition with a fresh exterior refinish, a reupholstered interior and restored brightwork. The freshly restored and detailed undercarriage is equally impressive. Beautifully presented, this 1954 Kaiser-Darrin roadster is a fitting tribute to its designer and champion, Howard “Dutch” Darrin. As such, its offering provides a wonderful opportunity to acquire and enjoy a rare American design statement.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more