Rare 1954 Kaiser-Darrin roadsters to be auctioned in Arizona and Paris; they come complete with unusual sliding doors
The Kaiser-Darrin was America’s first production fibreglass sports car and though it was not a great success in terms of numbers sold, it featured a number of unusual design features – including sliding ‘pocket’ doors – that make it noteworthy. Only 435 were made and unusually two examples come to auction in January and February 2016 through RM Sotheby’s in Arizona and Paris.
Undoubtedly a “head turning” car in terms of its presence, the Kaiser-Darrin roadster was designed by Howard ‘Dutch’ Darrin and built in conjunction with Henry J. Kaiser of Kaiser Motors. Its production run was limited to 1954 only and its conception came about as part of a movement in Detroit to compete with European roadsters being imported and sold in the United States after the end of the Second World War.
Launched in September 1952 as “the sports car everyone has been waiting for” at the Los Angeles Motorama, production delays meant the first (and only) models to be sold became available in 1954. The roadster was priced at $3,668 (the equivalent of £22,000 or $32,000 today) but whilst its appearance was and still is stunning, design flaws – most especially its relative poor performance compared to larger-engined cars such as the Jaguar XK120 – resulted in it being a sales flop. Production was swiftly wound up and consequently, the two examples on offer will appeal to those looking to add something unusual to their collections.
The yellow Kaiser-Darrin roadster, chassis number 161-001390, will be offered without reserve by RM Auctions in Arizona in the 28th to 29th January 2016 sale with a guide of £96,000 to £124,000 ($140,000 to $160,000). The white example, chassis number 161-001031, will be sold in Paris on 3rd February with a guide price that is yet to be disclosed.
Update 31st January 2016: The 1954 Kaiser-Darrin sold above the upper guide for £124,000 ($176,000 or €162,000) at Arizona.
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