Kaiser Darrin 161
The Kaiser Darrin 161 was an American sports car designed by Howard "Dutch" Darrin and built by Kaiser Motors in 1954. The Kaiser Darrin had entry doors that, instead of being hinged to open outward, slid on tracks into the front fender wells behind the front wheels. The body for the production Kaiser Darrin was made of fiberglass. More resilient than aluminum, fiberglass did not rot or corrode, was lightweight and more pliable than steel to mold into shape. The molds were far less expensive than the tooling needed to bend and shape steel.The body was molded in two sections, minus deck lid, doors and hood. Underneath, the frame rails of the Henry J were modified to allow for a lower ride height, the steering ratio altered and the spring and dampening rates changed to match the lighter body. Interior features included color-keyed vinyl bucket seats, available in red, white, black, or Pine Tint, and a carpeted floor. Seat belts, which were not widely available on American cars at this time, were listed as an option, however, there were no attachment points built into the frame or body.
A freak snowstorm hit Toledo in the winter of 1953-54. 50 Kaiser Darrin had been stored in the yard of the Kaiser-Willys plant there and remained buried in snow for several months. When they were finally dug out, their fiberglass bodies were deemed too deteriorated to sell as new and Kaiser ordered them scrapped.
Original Price: $3668
Produced: 435 plus 6 prototypes
Designer: Howard Darrin
Engine: 161 cu in (2.6 L) F-head six cylinder, 90-hp
Original Colors: Champagne Lacquer, Red Sail Lacquer, Yellow Satin Lacquer, and Pine Tint Lacquer