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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

1954 Kaiser-Darrin at RAM

1954 Kaiser-Darrin at Reynolds-Alberta Museum
Photo by Kate Tompkins
One of the rarer cars currently on display at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum (RAM) is probably this 1954 Kaiser-Darrin (Model K452). Designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin* for Kaiser Motors, this two door convertible was the first American car to have a fibreglass body. It also has pocket doors, which I think is amazingly cool.
 
1954 Kaiser-Darrin at Reynolds-Alberta Museum
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Meant, like the Corvette and the original Thunderbird, to compete with European sports cars, the Kaiser-Darrin was, according to Wikipedia, overpriced and underpowered, with only a 161 cubic inch six cylinder which put out 90 hp. The display plaque at RAM says the original cost of the car was $3,653 US. How Stuff Works says that was more than a Lincoln Capri or a Cadillac 62.
1954 Kaiser-Darrin at Reynolds-Alberta Museum
Photo by Kate Tompkins

The car still might have made it—after all, How Stuff Works says the original Corvette was also overpriced and underpowered--but Kaiser itself ran into trouble before more than 435 were built. Darrin got his hands on several (about 100) of them, added bigger engines (304 bhp Cadillac V-8s) and resold them. Some 300 of the original 435 Kaiser-Darrins are still around, so obviously somebody liked them.

The one at RAM hasn’t been souped up, and still has a 161 ci six cylinder under its hood. Unlike when it was produced, it’s now a valuable car, if this ad on Hemmings is anything to go by—asking price on a beautifully restored stock 1954? $225,000. Pity, I’d rather like one. Well, there’s always space in the virtual garage.
1954 Kaiser-Darrin at Reynolds-Alberta Museum
Photo by Kate Tompkins



* Hemmings Classic Car has an article on Darrin’s career here. 

1 comment:

  1. Angela Lansbury drove one of these in the 1954 classic 'A life at stake'

    ReplyDelete

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