In July 18 IssueRussell County NewsBy Ron Cowell, Columnist
Those who attended the Lake Cumberland Antique Car Show at Jamestown Elementary School the 4th of July had the opportunity to see a really rare car that not to many have seen. The car is a 1954 Kaiser Darrin owned by Floyd Back of Jamestown. Floyd has had the car for several years but just this past winter he got the car completely restored and ready to display.
The Kaiser Darrin was originally manufactured to compete with the Chevy Corvette in the growing Sports Car market of that time. The designer of the Kaiser Darrin was Howard “Dutch” Darrin. He had designed cars for Packard and Studebaker also. The vehicle was really different than any of the other sports cars of that time. It was an all fiberglass body, a three position top and sliding doors that when opened disappeared into the front fender. 1954 was the only year this car was manufactured and there were only 435 of these cars produced in addition to the estimated six pre-production prototypes.
The car had lines like a Jag and was powered by a 161 – cubic inch, 6 cylinder engine.
The Kaiser Darrin was the very first fiberglass sports car made in the United States beating Corvette to the market by only one month. The whole fiberglass body was made by Glaspar and only weighed 300 pounds.
A Darrin back when it was newly equipped with overdrive had an additional cost of $107.00 in 1954. The base price of the Kaiser Darrin was $3,655.00 and that was a lot of money back then. Today, if you had one and it was in as good a shape as Floyd’s, it could bring anywhere from$100,00.00 to $150,000.00.
When Howard Darrin showed the Darrin design to Henry Kaiser he wasn’t really thrilled with the car but agreed to produce the car at the request of his wife who fell in love with the car as soon as she saw it.
The complete construction and development of the Darrin roadster was completed in barley 13 months. The chassis of the Darrin was taken from the compact Henry J. The wheel base was 100 inches and was perfect for the Darrin. The prototype of the Darrin was built in Santa Monica, CA. at Howard’s shop at his own personal cost and expense.
The 161 horsepower cubic inch six cylinder engine gave the Darrin enough speed to keep up with its sporty image. Complete control of the car was made easy with it’s 4 speed manual transmission that shifted really easy.
The Kaiser Darrin Roadster was unfortunately a very short-lived car.
Production of the car was brought to a halt after only nine months. Only a total of 435 Darrin’s were ever constructed.
If you didn’t get to see this car at the Car Show on the 4th of July no need to fret. If you would like to take a look at Automotive history stop by the Cookery Restaurant in Jamestown and see Floyd or his wife and they will be glad to show you the car. It is on display at his personal Kaiser – Fraiser Museum in Jamestown. While you are there you will see plenty of other Kaisers along with a lot of other automotive antiques and more on display there..
If your Car Club is having an event and you would like us to tell everyone about or someone who you would like to see featured in this article send all information to, firstname.lastname@example.org . All information on upcoming events needs to be in at least two weeks before the event.
If your Club or church or group is having an event and you would like to display some classic cars at that event let me know at least two weeks in advance. One or all of the clubs in the area would be more than happy to bring the cars out for you.