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Friday, July 15, 2022

Knew more about the legendary Kellison car kits

Man with a Great TALENT As we already have discussed to this day in many articles of unique classic cars that have ever circulated in the world's automotive. Well this time we will discuss about one brand of kit cars that was quite famous in the 1950s to 1960s, and lots of cars applying the brand's outfits were appeared in various styles in cyberspace to this day.
All historical evidence indicates that the Kellison GT cars (in pictured Kellison J-5 Coupe), which first appeared in 1957, is an original design, in as much as anything is. (Picture from: Kellison Cars)
At the time, many kit car companies have been making incredible fiberglass bodyworks over the years, only a minority of them built more than a handful of cars before leaving into oblivion. Well one of the few companies to leave a mark on the industry was Kellison Engineering.
The Folsom, California based company was founded in 1958 by Jim Kellison, a former US Air Force pilot who fought in the Korean War. It is well known that he also was a fanatic sports car fan and even thought of designing and building his own sports car body. 
The Kellison J-1 is a small coupe designed to fit on Austin-Healey Sprite and Crosley chassis realesed first in 1957, and also featured with a Zagato's typical double-bubble roof line. (Picture from: KellisonCars)
It could be said that this Jim Kellison-owned company may had produced the greatest number of fiberglass bodies than any other company, and estimated to date its list consisting 1,000 Kellison and about 1,000 other bodies by Kellison. Then are those purely Kellison's design? Mostly not, because every design is influenced by vehicles and designers respectily of their time and years in the past. The real Kellison's works are known always started with a 'J' prefix followed by a number indicating the order of production.
A beautifully detailed and refurbished J car roadster (in pictured Kellison J-2 Roadster). (Picture from: KellisonClassicCars)
And if judging from Kellison's early works, clearly seems those applied Zagato's double bubble. The Zagato's trademark style refers to the two bulges in the car's roof to give the driver and passenger more headroom, and today many modern exotic cars use such roof style. How's could it be? As quoted of Undiscovered Classic that Jim Kellisson known greatly admired the Zagato works, since seen personally 1957 Ferrari 250 Zagato and 1958 Fiat-Abarth 750.
Here's the Kellison J-2 Coupe, one of 15 to 20 units ever made featured with a 'double-bubble' top like some Fiat-Abarth models and Zagato-bodied Ferrari's. (Picture from: ConceptCarz)
As we all knew that the famous Italian design firm  which specializes in car designing for various world's top brands such Ferrari, Fiat, Abarth, and others. It's just that in our opinion, Kellison's double bubble style seems better than the original ones. Not only that, Kellison's designs have also been adapted by many other automotive companies such Pininfarina, another major Italian auto design company that does a lot of design work for Ferrari, and others has used a bit of Kellison design in their cars.
Kellison J-3 is roadster is visually similar to the J-2 roadster sibling, but shorter with 98-inches of wheelbase. (Picture from: KellisonCars)
During the production period, Kellison Engineering produced many car kits. Its first fiberglass bodies known as Kellison J-1 were offered to the public in 1957. It's a small coupe designed to fit on Austin-Healey Sprite and Crosley chassis, and featured with Zagato's typical double-bubble top like some Fiat-Abarth models and Zagato-bodied Ferrari's. Unfortunately there is no information on how many J-1s has ever made by this company. 
Never assembled Kellison J3 competition body roadster on a TR6 chassis with a 5.0 Ford and five speed. (Picture from: ClassicMotorsports)
The next model is Kellison J-2 was an attractive 1950s roadster released in 1959 with 102 inches wheelbase, and 169 inches long, there's no information related to number for the roadster style made by the company. As quoted of KellisonCars, in addition the company also made the coupe styles as many as 15 to 20 units.
This Kellison J-4 Coupe which is the Kellison Engineering's first production launched in the end of 1950s and was sold in kit and turnkey form. (Picture from: PistoNudos)
Then the company produced its next model of Kellison J-3 roadster is visually similar to the J-2 roadster sibling, but shorter with 98-inches of wheelbase. These bodies were also used on a small number of racing cars in the '50s. Same to its sibling J-2, as quoted of KellisonCars, this bodies also made in coupe style as many as 10 to 15 units, meanwhile roadster kits produced as many as 50 to 60 units.
This Kellison J-4 Coupe certainly has such a dramatic and low slung, completed with its very low stance and small frontal area made it appealing to both road-legal and racer versions. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
The next model is the Kellison J-4 Gran Turismo which is the Kellison Engineering's first production kit and was launched in the end of 1950s. There are 300 units of the J-4 Coupe made by the company and 20 to 25 units for the roadster version. As you see, this model carries a handsome coupe style with a 98 inch wheelbase and was sold in kit and turnkey form.
This Kellison J-4 Experimental Car was one of four cars that was built by Kellison for the 1959 Motorama Fair in Detroit. (Picture from: KellisonClassicCars)
At the time in 1960s, the J-4 kits was sold start at $365, while the completed car was $6,700, and is built over a tubular steel frame and was powered by a Chevy 283 cubic-inches V-8 with a four-speed transmission system. Besides that it has a fully decked-out interior, and also came with a three-piece set of fitted luggage. Meanwhile the J-4 body was also used on many road racers, dragsters, show cars, and special-purposed Bonneville cars.
This Frank Collingwood's J-4 'ASTRA' show car known as the most successful show car competing in the 1966 International Show Car Association (ISCA) against some 4000 entries. (Picture from: John's Rod&Custom)
And the most famous of them is a customized version was used on a show car built by Frank Collingwood, which won the International Show Car Association Championship in 1966. Although J-4 normal car had inner panels, firewalls and extra reinforcement. It turns out Kellison Engineering also made its lightweight competition bodies with no inner structure. It can be said that these models (included both coupe and roadster versions) are the most common Kellisons found today.
As you can see, this Kellison J-5 Coupe was a version of the J-4 with quad headlights (built in coupe and roadster styles). (Picture from: KellisonClassicCars)
After that was born the next model known as the Kellison J-5 which is a version of the J-4 with quad headlights (built in coupe style only as many as just 350 to 400 units). The car featured wheelbase of 102 inches, (for coupe version) its roof was raised 1 inch to provide more space coupled with extended doors. Then the Kellison J-6 Panther was launched as the latest version of the J-4 with angular grille, a more pointed tail, trunk lid, higher roofline, and other detailed differences. It could easily be mounted onto 1953-1962 Corvette chassis, and made by the company over 500 units in coupe style only.
The Kellison J-5 Coupe featured wheelbase of 102 inches, (for coupe version) its roof was raised 1 inch to provide more space coupled with extended doors. (Picture from: RoadandTrack)
Besides all the 'J' series models mentioned above, during Jim Kellison-owned company production period also made bodywork for other company. And the most noticed were being sold by Allied Fiberglass under the name of Astra X-300GT. In fact the car was a J-4 variant featuring a higher roof line to gain head room in the interior and also had an oval grille, while many J-series bodies had squared-off grilles and produced over 500 units.
This Kellison J-6 Panther (in pictured was 1968 model) based off the J-4 design, which was more or less a full-size custom GT car designed for V8 engines. (Picture from: RareCarNetwork)
Not only the road-legal sports car models, Jim Kellison-owned company also makes many cars for racing purposes, even the replica of famous Cobras and Ford GT-40s during its production periods. The ups and downs in this industrial world have led the company to produce a wide range of car kit products until its closing in 1969.
The Astra X-300GT (in pictured was 1967 model) was a Kellison J-4 variant sold by Allied Fiberglass featuring a higher roof line to gain head room in the interior and also had an oval grille. (Picture from: CurbsideClassic)
After he shut down his auto company, and opened a successful book store. But he couldn't stay away from the aroma of curing fiberglass, so in 1976 he started building the Stallion, one of the first-generation of Cobra replicas, before trading in the kit car industry for the jewelry business in 1980.
Jim Kellison passed away in 2004, leaving behind hundreds maybe thousands of wonderful kit cars to carry on his name.😢 Over the years, the cars were sold by Kellison Engineering, Kellison Inc., Allied Fiberglass (under the Astra name), and Lincoln Industries. Keep your eyes open and check out the excellent Kellison's web site. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | KELLISON CARS | PISTONUDOS | MOTORTREND | ROADANDTRACK | UNDISCOVEREDCLASSIC ]
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