15 Years in Storage: 1980 Kelmark GT

A few years ago, I had the privilege of selling a Kelmark GT out of my friend’s collection in North Georgia, which has been featured here a few times as a Barn Finds Exclusive. It was my first time up close and personal with one of these VW-based kit cars, and I was shocked at how solid it was, especially compared to a Bradley GT. This 1980 example belongs to the longtime owner who built the car in 1980, but then later put into heated storage where it has been for the last 15 years. The Kelmark sounds as if it was built to a high standard back in the day, with many engine upgrades completed at the time of initial assembly. It needs a thorough going-through but looks like a great starting point. Find it here on craigslist in Boston, Mass. for $4,500.

If you’ve been looking for one of these, that seems like a very good deal even with the reconditioning work needed. I say this because we sold the one out of Georgia as a non-runner with no engine for $2,500. This car has been carefully stored and likely has no rot issues, plus it has the bonus of a seemingly overbuilt engine with some period goodies from the early 80s. To say this is a bargain in comparison is an understatement. The seller emphasizes in his listing that it’s more important for him to find the right owner than to get all the money for the car, which is a refreshing sentiment in this day of relentless flipping and bonkers auctions where the only goal is to spend more money than the next guy. This Kelmark has never been painted, letting its factory gelcoat give it the shiny appearance you see here.

I remember looking into the Kelmark for the first time and being struck by how complete the interior was. It had a period Momo steering wheel, the wood-look dash you see here, and doors that actually felt like real doors when they closed. The Bradley GT of the same era always felt like it was made of matchsticks in comparison, ready to snap in half after hitting a pothole. Regardless, when you buy one of these, you’re really buying the quality of the work of the individual who first put it together, and this is absolutely the kind of individual you want to acquire a Kelmark from. Among other enhancements, the seller notes that the transmission was built by David Foltz and has welded synchro rings and steel shift forks.

The engine build really does sound like a work of art, and the seller provides exacting detail on what went into it. The engine was built by the seller with all new Gene Berg parts, along with a brand new German-made engine case. It is 2000cc with heads ported and polished by Clyde Berg and a semi-hemi to “….keep the compression low so it will run on 92/3 octane gas,” according to the seller. It also features  a counterweighted crank, lightened flywheel, modified fuel pump, and dual 42 DCNF Weber carbs with a 4-into-1 merged exhaust. Even the spare parts paint a fantastic picture of the seller, with the listing noting that the Kelmark will come with an extra chrome plated exhaust and chrome plated velocity stacks “…for showing the car,” along with a variety of jet sizes for fine-tuning purposes. This is a project, but one that looks wholly worthwhile to save.

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Comments

  1. rextreme Member

    Surprising this hasnt sold.
    Can hardly buy a decent roadworthy ’60’s bug for that price…

    Like 7
  2. Chuckster

    Let’s of name dropping, people I’ve never heard of . But I guess VW folks would know. I have some VW heads, not sure how you make them “semi-hemi.

    Like 1
  3. Philip Lepel

    The wife says i can get it if i sell one of the other cars. Two mustangs and a custom GT Turbo GT Cruiser. Hmmm which one to sell???

    Like 2
  4. Rabbit

    Ad doesn’t tell us what year the chassis is. I’d like to know whether it’s a swing arm or IRS. Can’t tell by the one pic of the underside. I DO know the names he’s dropping, & this seems like a helluva deal. Too bad Mama said “NO!”

    Like 3
  5. Francisco

    I have a rule to never buy a car that has a spaghetti tangle of wires hanging from below the dash.

    Like 5
  6. Gerald

    How much was just the body when this was new? I remember that they were expensive for the time,,,

  7. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    I always wanted one of these, until I sat in one. I’m only 5-11, and the seat was not very thick above the floor, but my head was against the roof.

  8. JoeNYWF64

    The only kit car with roll down door windows?

  9. Frank

    ACE is the place for parts to finish the job!

  10. Frank

    I see why Enzo Ferrari start filing lawsuits. Looks like a Dino 246.

  11. bobhess bobhess Member

    Welded syncro rings? That means they turned it into a crash box.

    Like 2
  12. Rabbit

    If that motor is what he says it is, I’ll bet it puts out about 130 or so horses. It’d destroy a stock Type 1 trans, (been there) thus the welded gears. Welding the synchros? No. Gears, yes. Methinks he misspoke.

    Like 5
  13. alan hubbard

    If you’re a VW guy everything the guy says makes sense. Back in the 80’s & 90’s the names Gene Berg for Super High Quality VW engine parts, and David Foltz for VW transmissions were the very best of the best. Clyde Berg is still a big name in the VW world. The engine combo is very strong, and designed to be as reliable as a VW 1600, but with twice the HP. The Mods to the trans keep it from breaking from high HP, and hard shifts. The welding does not make it a crash box, it’s what VW did on the heavier duty Bus transaxles, rather than just relying on the press fit. At $4500 the guy is giving the car away, but the East Coast market for that car is small. Kelmark made a tube chassis for the Kelmark, or a VW Bug, that allowed the installation of a Corvair Transaxle, and a Chevy V8. Kelmark was a real engineering company, not some fiberglass boat builder splashing copies of a Manx dune buggy bodies. Just looking at the photos, I can tell you that builder spared no expense building this car. The engine combo 88mm bore, 82mm stroke, with semi hemi cut heads, leaves a lot of HP sitting on the assembly table, but will last forever. These day s that engine would be a built with 94mm bore, with the 82mm stroke, and set for high high compression giving 180 HP.

    Like 2
    • alan hubbard

      I’m too fat to fit in it, but If this was a L.A. car, I’d buy it, just to have it.

  14. JimmyB

    I want this. I need this. Emailed the seller, but no response – I fear it’s long gone :(

  15. ANDRZEJ ZINEK

    maybe someone knows if the car is still for sale, maybe you have information on the seller

  16. ANDRZEJ

    maybe someone knows if the car is still for sale, maybe you have information on the seller

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