19-20 January 2012

Previous Next

Lot 114

1954 Kaiser-Darrin Roadster

  • Chassis no. 16101434

Sold for $99,000

Model KF-161. 90 bhp, 161 cu. in. F-head Willys “Hurricane” inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 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

• Very desirable as car number 434 out of 435 built

• An excellent restoration; well maintained and carefully freshened

The distinctive Kaiser-Darrin, conceived by renowned designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin, remains an undisputed American icon today that was recently commemorated by a specially issued stamp by the US Postal Service. Aimed at the same young and affluent market as Chevrolet’s Corvette, the Kaiser-Darrin used such mechanical components as the compact Henry J chassis and the F-head “Hurricane” six-cylinder engine from Willys, which Kaiser bought 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. The 50 unsold cars remaining were parked in the Willys storage lot. Darrin was incensed and acquired the lot of them, which he eventually completed with various upgrades over the next few years.

Finished in the original Champagne White with a red interior, this example is one of the last of the 435 Kaiser-Darrins produced and bears chassis number 434. It spent many years in the Hollywood, California area under the ownership of a movie producer, and several years ago it received a professional, body-off restoration to original specifications with virtually no expense spared. The next owner, a resident of Denver, Colorado, drove the car less than 500 miles prior to its acquisition by the meticulous current owner, a confirmed Kaiser-Darrin enthusiast. During 2011, the restoration was freshened with a complete exterior refinish and new brightwork, resulting in a nearly flawless visual presentation with an equally impressive underside. Beautifully and correctly presented, very rare and refreshingly comfortable, more so than the early Corvettes and Jaguar XKs of the era, this Kaiser-Darrin roadster marks a significant opportunity for collectors of American sports cars.

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

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alexander Weaver

+1 310 559 4575
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

Annette Abaci

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Barney Ruprecht graduated from Boston University in 2013 with a degree in Hospitality Administration. In ... read more

Dan Warrener

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... 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. He is a lifelong automobile enthusiast and g... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... 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 joined RM Sotheby's in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and re... read more

Ian Kelleher

+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Sotheby's in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in ... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 917 213 5672
Ontario, Canada

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

Jonathan Sierakowski

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a restoration shop as a teenag... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 260 927 9797
Indiana, United States

Kurt Forry joins Auctions America with more than a decade of experience on the North American auction scene and a well-rounded knowled... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby's, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Gra... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

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

Peter Wallman

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... 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

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a car specialist. A... read more