1-of-7: 1991 Kelly (Ford) Python

DeLorean? Yes. Bricklin? Yes. Kelly? Yes…wait, who? Automotive history is littered with people who have ventured out in a bid to build the car of their dreams. Some of these people succeed, while others fail, sometimes spectacularly. While the first two names listed here will be known to the majority of our readers, the third might prove to be something of a mystery. Alvin Kelly’s little company, Kelly Motors Ltd, set out to build a sports car based on a long-dead Ford project. The result was the Kelly Python, which is sometimes referred to as the Ford Python. This 1991 Python is one of the prototype cars, it is 1-of-7 cars known to exist today, and it is now looking for a new home. It is located in Elko, Nevada, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. Unfortunately, the owner doesn’t provide a sale price for the car. I really have to thank Barn Finder Roger for referring this interesting car for us to look at.

The story of the Python actually tracks back to Ford, when Ford’s Eugene Bordinat was undertaking some design work for Carroll Shelby. He was designing a body that was intended as a replacement for the AC Cobra since the original body had gone out of production. The plan was eventually shelved, and the whole thing was long forgotten. Then along came a gentleman by the name of Alvin Kelly, and this is where the story becomes confused. He managed to spot a prototype body somehow, but stories about how this occurred vary from source to source. Whatever the real story is, Kelly managed to create a mold of the prototype, and then decided to build the sports car of his dream. The car has a far more modern appearance than the Cobra that it was set to replace, and this was further refined by Kelly. The body is fiberglass and steel, but the underpinnings are all Ford. In fact, below that body lies an awful lot of Fox-Body Mustang DNA. If the information that I have been able to find is correct, this particular car was a prototype and was never intended for road use. Originally it was used for show and display purposes and finally saw a road for the first time in 1992.

I said that there was a lot of Fox-Body DNA below the surface of this car, and it isn’t just the drive-train that we’re talking about. Kelly Motors purchased Mustangs from Ford and proceeded to essentially dismantle them. The rear floor was shortened, and the front of the vehicle was lengthened. This was done in a bid to obtain the best weight distribution possible. The remaining original floors, cowl, windshield, and side glass were retained. The body that was then draped over these underpinnings was all Python. The drive-train was all Mustang, from the 5.0-liter V8 engine, through to the transmission, rear end, the works. This was done because Kelly’s original intent was to be able to sell the cars via Ford dealerships. This particular car features the HO engine, a 5-speed manual transmission, and upgraded Ford suspension. The Python tipped the scales significantly lighter than the donor car, so performance should be quite impressive. There are no interior photos, but what can be seen from the exterior photos seems to indicate that there is a lot of Black Mustang trim inside the car.

The Kelly Python was another of those cars that appeared showing a world of promise but then failed dismally. There appear to be no real company records today, and there are varying estimates that quote anywhere from 12 to 20 cars being built before Kelly Motors Ltd collapsed. What doesn’t appear to be in dispute is the fact that there are only seven cars that are known to exist today. The attraction of this car for me is that it is not a kit car, but it looks like a car where the construction has been executed quite well and is well above the standard that you would expect for such an early prototype from a fledgling manufacturer. The styling is interesting, and any mechanical components that might be required in the future can be sourced directly from a Ford parts catalog. That might make this a classic that is worth investigating further.


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  1. Billieg

    That’s a car Ford should have built.

    Like 10
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Interesting. Never heard of these.

    Like 9
  3. mark houseman

    No price????? Not interested!!!!

    Like 2
    • BR

      “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”. (JPM)

      Like 3
      • Tom Member

        Really BR?. That saying is true in many instances… but not applicable in this case.

        This is the case of “I want $1 million but not sure if its worth $1000”? He is throwing it out there hoping to create a bidding war with a minimum of 2 people who want it. Smart.

        A painting is worth $1 million dollars IF someone is willing to give you $1 million.

        The seller has NO idea what this car is worth. To many, it is not of interest, so therefore, no bid. To some this may be “The Holy Grail” and worth much. I see it as some guy who wanted to be Shelby, Roush, Saleen etc, had too much money and ideas that were, well, whatever…not good enough.

  4. Bakyrdhero

    84-86 T-Bird tail lights

    Like 1
  5. Miguel

    Is that a Mustang with T-Bird tail lights?

    Like 2
  6. Rovinman

    I can see why the original AC Cobra replacement never happened !
    The proportions of this car are all wrong.
    It does NOT have the look and feel of the Cobra.
    The cockpit is too central, I fear that the handling of this would be dangerous in a strong wind !
    Sorry, it’s not for me !

    Like 1
  7. CanuckCarGuy

    Seems more of a kit car given it’s essentially a cosmetically modified Fox body…that said, they should have put the engineering budget they didn’t use into the design.

    Like 1
  8. scottymac

    Like it better than most models of the Panoz Esperante or Shelby Series 1. Probably less expensive, as well. Too bad they didn’t have the backing to succeed. Were any road tests ever published?

  9. KenB

    Kelly also was known for his time in charge of Avanti.

    Like 2
  10. Coventrycat

    Sounds better than the Ford Anaconda I guess. Bet the new owner gets asked if his name is Monty, though.

    Like 2
  11. TimM

    I just got a history lesson!! Being a Ford guy my whole life and never hearing about this car before just goes to show you can’t know everything!! Very interesting!! I really wonder with the longer deck and shorter trunk if it would teach the mustang a thing or two!!!

    Like 4
  12. Tom Member

    I am usually a fan of rare cars but this one, built during an era where most cars were not interesting, this looks like a car built from many spare parts.

    I don’t ever want to meet a real Python (snake) in person and I think I can say the same for this one!

    WAY TOO MANY other cars on my list !! I am sure someone will find this car on their list in the #1 spot and I couldn’t be happier for them !

  13. Jesse

    If Ford had built a convertible Probe, this is what it would look like !

  14. Jonny the Boy

    No good photos, not even a decent 3/4 shot. How are we supposed to know how the car even looks?

  15. Dan

    I own one of the seven. It is a beautiful car, that gets nothing but compliments when ever I take it for a drive or a car show. It handles like a dream on the roads and in the mountains. Al Kelly had the two original designers from Ford asst him on the design from their original. The python was to be sold by Ford. He built four prototypes in California and then moved to Fort Collins, Colorado to build the remaining number before going bankrupt. You are right, one picture is not enough to show this one.

    Like 6
  16. Larry

    I was lucky to be on the original team that Al contracted with to start his project in Anaheim, CA in early 80’s. Might be able to dig up a photo or two of the 1st one, pre final design changes. Always wondered what came of Al’s dream

    Like 1
    • leonel

      would love to see some pics. my father in law purchased one a while ago and says #1 of #12. its convertible red. the car is actually nice and sounds really good.

  17. Brian Wicka

    anyone want to sell one .i really like this white one just missed it a few years ago for 11k
    contact me b_wicka@yahoo.com

    Like 1
  18. Alex Cepeda

    Hi all,
    Looks to me, like they took the lines from different cars and put it all into this one.
    The front side, looks like the Scimitar, the side rear like the Porsche 928. Etc.
    Strange one.

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