The record was set on March 8 when one very lucky bidder acquired a 1959 Kellison J-4R for the spectacularly low price of 28,000 dollars.
A what, you may ask – Kellison?
Indeed, and this may have been one explanation: American Kellison is not a marque with anything near the gravitas of the European greats the likes of Porsche, Ferrari or Mercedes. In fact, it’s was not even a car manufacturing marque at all, but more of a kit car.
At least that is how Jim Kellison started out around 1958. At some later stage Kellison did eventually offer fully-built cars, the J4 such as this one as well, but regardless the name is nowhere near as well known as the major marques. Which is a shame as the J4 was one of the most succesful models and to my eyes actually something of a design masterpiece. Kellison did most himself and amazingly ended up with a car looking just like a young (and talented) boy at the time would probably sketch the most super supercar he could imagine.
The J4 features an impossibly long hood, an achingly tight roof line and muscular haunches all pulled together by looooong flowing lines. It is almost a glassfibre caricature of a front engined supercar – which as such suits the concept perfectly: Indeed Kellison wanted to take on all and the world with his creation – and priced it accordingly, as back in the day it was more expensive than a Corvette.
In some ways he succeded, as the company sold around 300 J4’s and later built on that succes. But in the Seventies the founder left the car business and only the true car connoisseurs would recognize his name today. The auction house Bonhams valued such rarity with an estimate of 35,000-55,000 dollars, which already seems amazing value.
But it went for far less, so last weekend a Kellison roared to fame with what I believe is a world record for a classic car in the”Bang for the Buck”-category: 500 horsepower for 28,000 dollars is serious stuff – and considering this seemed to be a working, well tested, road legal and rather beautiful looking Fifties sportscar, nothing less than sensational.
A contributing factor to the low price probably was its originality – or rather lack of it. Of course the smallblock engine never punched out 500 horsepower in 1959, nor would the car have featured a comprehensive rollbar structure like this one. This Kellison had, according to the catalogue description, been converted to a race car in the Eighties and received a healthy dose of breathed upon 406 cubic inch V8 – that’s 6.5 liters in European language. More to the point, that resulted in 497 horsepower and surely spectacular numbers in performance as well. No less, the car was still docile and usable, and in 2001 a new owner had added the neccessities needed for road registering the monster. From there on he had proceeded to drive the car on rallies and regularities, always properly maintaining the car. It certainly presented convincingly in the catalogue.
But of course it’s condition is not the main thing: Almost 500 horsepower in a spetacular body of Fifties fantasy available for 28,000 dollars including premium? I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with it, but I’d love to try and find a reason – meanwhile you simply can’t argue against the huge amount of Bang for not a lot of Buck, neither that the car is rather spectacular in itself.
What could possibly beat it in this category? Answers, suggestions (or just chocked reactions) on a postcard or in the comments below, please.