CARMEL VALLEY, Calif. — At a time when cars were big dreamboats, the Kaiser Darrin was something different.
It was a sports car full of innovation.
Just ask John Nirenstein and Stephanie Dunn, who brought the 1954 Darrin to the Quail Motorsports Gathering over the summer.
Nirenstein points to the sliding door as one key innovation, but certainly not the only one. At a time when mandatory seat belts were still years away, the Kaiser offered them. It also had a padded dashboard, another key safety feature.
Nirenstein poured his heart into the restoration of his Kaiser Darrin, including making a few of his own replacement parts. But the result is stunning, one of the most impressive cars at the show.
This isn’t the first Kaiser we’ve profiled. The car brand was a post-war phenomenon, another of industrialist Henry J. Kaiser’s businesses. He was famous for building Liberty ships during the war, creating Kaiser Steel and his car brand. Chris Woodyard , USA TODAY