Kaiser Darrin 161 from Malaga Museum. Made in USA in 1954, 435 units in the world, V6, 90 hp, 2600 cc.
The Kaiser Darrin, also known as the Kaiser Darrin 161 or in short as the Darrin, was an American sports car designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin and built by Kaiser Motors for the 1954 model year. Essentially a revamp of Kaiser’s Henry J compact, the Kaiser Darrin was one of its designer’s final achievements and was noted for being the second (behind the 1953 Corvette) American car equipped with a fiberglass body and doors that slid on tracks into the front fender wells. The car was named both for Henry J. Kaiser, head of Kaiser Motors, and Darrin.
The Darrin was conceived as part of a movement in Detroit to compete head-to-head with European roadsters being imported to and sold in the United States in the post–World War II period. Among other products developed were the Ford Thunderbird in its initial two-seat form and Chevrolet Corvette. While the Darrin was designed attractively, it was also underpowered and, while a good performer overall, did not measure up to foreign vehicles such as the Nash-Healey or Triumph TR2. The Darrin’s high price tag, lack of consumer confidence in Kaiser’s viability and practical challenges with the car’s design resulted in low sales, though sports cars at the time were generally not fast sellers.