1954 Kaiser-Darrin 161 Roadster

Courtesy of Bonhams

In the bustling years after World War II, American roads were peppered with ever-growing numbers of European and British sports cars. American servicemen returning from overseas duty were bringing home nimble little cars with gutsy engines and sleek styling.

American manufacturers wanted in on the action, but nobody had a suitable car ready to compete with the European invaders. Ford and GM started work on their own interpretations of a sports car, while the independent Kaiser Motors also decided to toss their hat in the ring.

The first Kaiser-Darrin prototype appeared at the New York Auto Show in 1953, just besting Chevrolet’s Corvette to become America’s first fiberglass production sports car by a few months.

This Kaiser-Darrin was the subject of a restoration several decades ago by Classic Car in White Lake, NY, with the sliding-door drop-top repainted in Yellow Satin with tan vinyl interior. Showing some paint imperfections and patina commensurate with its age and attesting to some spirited use, it has been regularly serviced and carefully garaged.