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Kaiser Darrin, 1954: Best Of Show At Concours On The Avenue

The Kaiser Darrin is among the most unique cars on the road.

It was one of the first cars I noticed, and after looking at an estimated 200 other vehicles, the 1954 Kaiser Darrin was still my favorite at the recently concluded Monterey Auto Week.

The Concours on the Avenue in Carmel was only presented for the second year in 2008. But it has come into its own, particularly with cars like the Darrin

A Kaiser Darrin showcased at Concours of the Avenue in Carmel, California
A Kaiser Darrin showcased at Concours of the Avenue in Carmel, California. Images © James Raia

Owner John Nirenstein of Tiburon, California, showcased it on Tuesday, Aug. 12, the second day of the event.

Kaiser Darrin: Art Decco on wheels

Nirenstein, participating in the event for the first time. He bought the car 10 years ago and took 22 months to restore it.

While soft jazz played in the background, the car got plenty of attention while nicely situated on a corner on Ocean Ave., amid a diverse selection of multi-marques — Volkswagen Beetles to myriad muscle cars, Fiats to Lamborghini.

The Kaiser Darrin is among the most unique cars on the road.
The Kaiser Darrin is among the most unique cars on the road.

The Darrin’s unique grill, its sliding front door and perfectly matched cream exterior and red leather interior had no equals.

Nirenstein’s example is No. 25 of 435 produced.

“I’ve just always loved cars since I was a boy,” said Nirenstein. “But I’m more interested in cars where the designer put his art and soul into it. I’m not so concerned about how much horsepower it has.”

Nirenstein’s remarks perfectly matched his car, not the fastest, nor the most rare. Nevertheless, it was the best car of the week — at least for me.

(Monterey Auto Week 2021 will be held Aug. 9-15 throughout the Monterey Peninsula. The Concours on the Avenue will be held Aug. 10. This article was originally posted in August 2008. The Kaiser Darrin remains my favorite vintage car. Cheers, James Raia.)

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