- This sports car was designed by the famous stylist “Dutch” Darrin.
- It featured sliding doors, fiberglass body and a three-position convertible top.
- Only 435 were built before it was dropped at the end of 1954, the only year of production.
Born in 1882, Henry J. Kaiser left his home state of New York at the age of 32 to open his own construction business in Canada. Returning to the states in 1931, Kaiser became a partner in a company that built the Hoover (Boulder) Dam, Grand Coulee Dam and Shasta Dam. During WWII, he was involved in shipbuilding and aircraft production and after the war entered into the manufacture of automobiles.
Kaiser teamed up with Joseph W. Frazer of Graham-Paige and set up manufacturing in Willow Run, Michigan. When production began in October 1946, the less expensive Kaiser and the more expensive Frazer had similar bodies with styling by Howard “Dutch” Darrin. The cars sold well, putting the company eighth in US production, the highest of any of the postwar independents. After 1948, however, the company’s profits began to decline.
Kaiser is remembered for many different and innovative designs, one of which was the Kaiser-Darrin 161 Convertible Sports Car. Designed by Darrin, the two-seater sports car had sliding doors, a fiberglass body and a 3-position convertible top. The 161 was dropped at the end of 1954 after a total of 435 were built. In the spring of 1955, the company decided that the cost of re-tooling and advertising a new model was not cost-effective. A contract was signed with the Argentine government to make Jeeps and Kaiser sedans in Buenos Aires until 1962. The Kaiser-Frazer Corporation name was changed to Kaiser Industries Corporation.