The Kellison Story. An American Sports Car Dream - Part 2

Just don't call it a "kit car." Story by BOMONSTER

Before there was ever a term “kit car,” Jim Kellison styled swoopy fast roadster bodies to sit on Austin-Healy, Sprite, MG, Triumph, Renault and Crosley frames.  He was an early pioneer in the “inexpensive replicars for the masses” business introducing fiberglass T-bucket roadsters and Ford GT-40s to sit on VW bug pans and may have been the first to knock off Carroll Shelby with his Cobra styled “Stallion.”


kellison astra blueprint


These days the term “kit car” covers the gambit from Factory Five’s ‘33 Ford roadster replicas to amazingly detailed 356 coupes to fake Rolls Royce bodies sitting on VW bugs to exotic plastic Lamborghini bodies molded onto mid-engine Pontiac Fiero floor pans.

But the one thing you could not call Jim Kellison’s two-seater Sports GTs from 1958-1965 were “kit cars.” You couldn’t buy a “kit” of parts to assemble. You could only buy their fiberglass body shell with or without a frame. It was up to the builder to scrounge windows, door hinges, handles, brakes, front suspension, steering column, dash instruments, rear differential, wheels, lights, gas tank, etc from a supplied list of compatible car parts.


kellison astra sports car blueprint


To assemble the Astra X300GT, the five page instruction letter called out the need to utilize a 1951-‘52 Studebaker windshield, 1949 Buick fast back rear glass, a ’57 Chevy station wagon fuel tank, a Triumph tail and stop light unit and gas cap, a ’60 Ford door latch, early Corvette clutch pedal assembly, steering and suspension parts.

Sample copy from supplied “instruction” sheet: “After selecting the type of instruments that are to be used, with a hole saw cut out the proper diameter holes to correspond with the instrument diameter. If you don’t have a hole saw, use a key hole saw or any type of saw.”

Any type of saw? Considering the amount of work left to finish the electrical and interior most guys would have had more success building a “kit” car.

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