The Kaiser-Darrin: America’s First Fiberglass Sports Car


The Kaiser-Darrin holds a special place in automotive history as America’s first production fibreglass sports car. With a prototype that preceded the iconic Corvette, the Kaiser-Darrin began production in 1954. This unique roadster was powered by the reliable Willys six-cylinder engine and boasted a design that captured the essence of 1950s style.

Iconic 1950s Design

The Kaiser-Darrin’s design was a true reflection of the 1950s. It featured sweeping front fenders that flowed gracefully into what became known as the “Darrin dip.” The split windshield and the distinctive “rosebud” grille gave the car a unique and memorable look, with the grille almost appearing ready to give a kiss.

Innovative “Pocket” Doors

One of the Kaiser-Darrin’s most captivating features was its innovative “pocket” doors. Unlike conventional car doors, these doors slid neatly into the front fenders, making entry and exit a breeze. Designer Howard “Dutch” Darrin strongly advocated for these sliding doors, emphasizing their safety advantage as they didn’t swing out into traffic. Though they never became widely adopted, the sliding doors became the signature feature of the Kaiser-Darrin.

A Brief Yet Memorable Production Run

Despite its stylish design and innovative features, the Kaiser-Darrin marked the end of the road for Kaiser-Frazer. The company ceased operations after a decade, and the chic roadster was produced for just one year. Only 435 units were made, making the Kaiser-Darrin a rare and highly sought-after classic today.


The Kaiser-Darrin is a testament to American automotive ingenuity and style. Its brief production run and unique features, particularly the “pocket” doors, have cemented its place in the annals of classic car history. This iconic roadster remains a symbol of 1950s flair and innovation, cherished by collectors and enthusiasts.


Photo Source: RM Sotheby’s

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