The Kaiser-Darrin was America’s first production fiberglass sports car, with its prototype debuting in fall 1952—just ahead of the Chevrolet Corvette (although production did not begin until 1954). It was powered by the reliable Willys 161-cubic inch “Hurricane” F-head six-cylinder engine, and its design became a legend of 1950s motoring, with sweeping front fenders that plunged behind the doors into a “Darrin dip,” a split windshield, and a distinctive “rosebud” grille, which, it was commented, always looked like it wanted to give someone a kiss.
Most fascinating of all were Darrin’s beloved “pocket” doors, which slid forward into the front fenders to permit entry and exit. Darrin promoted sliding doors for decades, claiming that they were a very safe alternative as they did not open into traffic. While the idea never quite caught on, they remain a Kaiser-Darrin trademark, and one of its best-remembered features.