How Would You Finish It? Kellison X300 GT

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Rakish, isn’t it? That was the promise of the various Kellison kits. Jim Kellison offered his first kits in 1957, and gradually spread out the line to include many different sports car kits, most of his own design. This X300 is one of the prettiest to my eyes, and it’s relatively complete to boot. It’s listed for sale here on craigslist and is located in Eugene, Oregon. Thanks to reader Terry J for this terrific find!

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From this angle, it’s pretty obvious that this Kellison is an unfinished kit. Considering the state of completion, I’m guessing that it was together at one point, and I would think that would be a good thing. The seller states that a complete set of assembly manuals are included. If you are interested in learning more about Kellisons in general, there’s a pretty informative site here. Also, if you are interested in what one can look like finished, there’s a beautiful one here.

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One of the things that concerns me about this particular project is the lack of front and rear glass. Perhaps it is included, but it’s neither shown nor included in the verbiage of the ad. As best as I can tell from this page, the front windshield is a cut down 1951-52 Studebaker and the rear window is from a 1949 Buick Sedanette. Neither of those seem to be easily available, although knowing what they originally came from is a good start.

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The frame on these cars looks pretty tough from the brochures, and this one is no exception. I don’t see much rust, either, which is great. The car uses 1962 or earlier Corvette front and rear suspension, so at least bushings and other fitments can be readily found.

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The engine and transmission had been previously removed from the car, but are included in the auction. It’s a Pontiac 350 and a TH350 automatic (!) transmission. I hope the purchaser will consider putting in a manual transmission! But my question for you is this: how would you bring this find back to life? I want to know colors, drive trains, interiors, wheels, etc! Let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Matthew Member

    looks like it could be a cool car if someone had the time and money to finish it. Personally, i would put some small reliable engine in it, like a Mopar Slant Six.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      That’s an avenue I hadn’t thought about….hmmmmm…

  2. Steve

    Jamie: Definitely change to a 4 speed, if not a 5 speed.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I’m with you, Steve :-)

  3. Bruce

    I have a freshly built 350 with a Holley EFI system on it and a GM T5 tranny to go behind it. Install those and have some fun.

    Bruce

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      That works, Bruce!

  4. jim s

    i rather put in an inline 6 but it does not look like enough room so i would go with a modern V6 with a 6 speed manual. this car does not have the fender flares of the silver car. great find.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Jim, the slant six or some of the BMW smaller engines that lay down might allow you to do that…

      • jim s

        yes those engines would work either stock or with some upgrades. thanks.

  5. DrinkinGasoline

    How would “I” finish it….Let’s see… sell the engine and trans as well as the wheels and suspension components….spend $2.56 on a gallon of gas, drag it back to the fire pit…..
    Zero comments on the reference blog says something.
    The front end looks like a sickly catfish gasping for air on a deserted beach.
    Put the poor thing out of it’s misery.

  6. Doug Towsley

    I *LIKE* Kit cars, No rules and you can customize to your hearts content! No anal retentive bolt polishers or rivet counters,

    After doing restorations a one off full custom is very appealing. I have had several kit cars and currently have a Fiberfab Banshee/Caribee with the front clip on this one is similar.

    I would modernize and update the chassis, perhaps with a cheap donor late model Corvette, sell the motor and tranny and again upgrade. A LS engine and 6 speed has some appeal, The purchase of a good donor car will yield all sorts of good useable parts, and the rest can be parted and sold to recoup your cash. On this one i might do a little restyling on it but basically its COOL, Good find

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Put up or…… comes to mind…..too funny! I woulda, coulda, shoulda, if I hadda…. Arm chair, keyboard restorers are a dime a dozen.

      • Doug Towsley

        What are you, a flame troll? If you dont like the car move on. The lister posted this and asked for what would we do. My answer is based on the experience of owning multiple kit cars over the years. AND more importantly, I got another one last year have bought several thousand in parts and will start the Build portion of the project in the fall.

        Put up? I can certainly do that. Pix or it didnt happen right? Would you like a date stamped photo of MY car sitting next to the Donor car I bought for it? The point is, besides your caustic and unwelcome commentary what are YOU bringing to the table??? LOL and all that. :)

        Like 1
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        DrinkinGasoline — Doug has a similar kit in his Fiberfab, so he already is putting up.

        Doug — As a huge Jamican fan, I’ve always wondered how someone of normal size can get into the Caribee given the door opening size and arrangement? Seriously, do you put legs in first, or what?

  7. Doug Towsley

    Uggh, I liked the Kellison reference page, but noticing its near Eugene, We have a second home near there. So, the seller is bats**t crazy. No way will it ever go for anything close to that price $18,500??????????? This one is rough and will need a lot of work to make nice. But would be worth it but i have seen better cars on FeeBay for a fraction of that price. I look every week in the replica and custom cars section on ebay.

    So, this ones going to sitting for a lot longer. I hate it when people post insane prices and dont understand why no one is interested

    • Doug Towsley

      Jaime, thank you for your interest. As an aside, I HAD a Jamaican as well. Sold it last year to an older gentleman who does about 1-2 kit cars per year. Since many people fail to complete their projects, A) Theres a lot of partially completed kits out there B) While buying a kit from the manufacturer makes sense, $$ Wise it makes sense to buy a significantly cheaper unfinished project or a older completed kit and update. C) The market for kit cars has a few upmarket kits and brands, but its highly unusual for them to pan out financially, which is okay if you are buying or building one because you love it and want the challenge of building,design and engineering and develop or show off your skills.

      So more to your point, my Jamaican was my 3rd kit car, And I wanted a break from restoration work. I did a trade for a 59 Chevy truck I had so got into it cheap, Was sitting on a MGA donor car. Was a runner at one point but not finished. I decided that MGA deserved better and know many in the restoration community and had no trouble finding a buyer for the donor car chassis and drivetrain. (Local guy had a Recent wreck and needed a good frame. He was VERY happy) So i elected a 1970s Datsun Z car as a better donor platform. I loved many basic aspect of the Jamaican, however while it has its style, I really wanted more curves. ***IF** You are going to complete a kit car you need to be 110% committed. So i elected to buy the Caribee/Banshee instead when one came up for sale in Idaho- Near Boise.

      So, for some time I debated taking the 2 cars and putting the nose of the C/B on the jamaican, and doing some fender flares and contouring to the Jam body, Also adding Gurney Bubbles. (Unless you drop and channel the floor, not a lot of headroom). In the end, I sold the Jam to the older guy who is up in Western Idaho (not far from Spokane) So you Idaho guys look for an old Marine Corp vet driving a souped up Nissan Powered Fiberfab Jamaican. Cool guy!

      So with all that backstory, My Fiberfab Caribee / Banshee has never been on a donor. The window openings and other parts still have the flashing and fiberglass still in them,
      While the door opening arrangement would be interesting with the gull wings, Im seriously considering getting rid of that. There are 2 flaws with that kit I dont like. The back window and the funny door opening. You are correct its too small and hard to get in and out of. But WORSE,,, the door opening looks wrong and out of proportion.

      I have did some line drawings and did measuring. I came up with 2 options and will finalize one this summer. #1) if you look at a Daytona Cobra Coupe (which the C/B is loosely based on) If you open up the doors to the fender wells it looks good. With tracings and line drawings this is certainly doable. It will require surgery and some fab work but is easily done. #2) my donor car is a 1974 260Z Datsun. I am considering retaining the stock Datsun doors, hinges, and door channels and windows. This solves MANY engineering issues. As well as legal ones (Retaining a percentage of the donor car for title/registration, firewall, dash, VIN locations etc)

      So, I dont have a clue how people worm in & out of completed Fiberfab C/B but I will not have that problem.

      ** I did mention the back window is another problem on the FF C/B. There is no sources for the kits back window. It requires a custom made plexiglass window.

      I am in concept/design stage (Alpha) for addressing that issue. On easy solution is simply using the Datsun Z car hatch and working with the fiberglass body lines to blend it together. I am also looking at other cars for a good rear glass and style. This means a lot of time in wrecking yards and shopping malls with a camera, tape measure and research. I also have a photo book of cars I like and using styling cues from. Photo copy and create line drawings. lay them over each other and see how they work together.

      If I was better in CAD and other software it might be easier but this process works.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Thanks for the great and informative reply, Doug! Someday I’d like to put together a Jamaican — given my love of British cars my ideal one would be on a TR4. I have to finish my Hathaway Hunter first, and that will take a lot. Best of luck with the door modifications and let us know how things turn out!

  8. Bill McCoskey

    A friend bought one back in the late ’70s, looked just like this one except it was finished. Problem was, as large framed guys, we had a difficult time getting in & out of the car. When I think about it, it seems everyone had a hard time getting into & out of his car!

  9. Doc Smith

    I’d do a targa top. Easier to get in and out, and really cool. New wheels, maybe spokes.

  10. Kent Pearson

    Right on Doug! What’s with all these negatory nerds? Slant 6? With your bell bottoms? This car has very fluid lines and the rear end is the sexiest I have ever seen, Fantastic. True that a good Buick or Mustang V-6 with a light fly wheel might be plenty to match with a 5 speed. I’m sure it doesn’t weigh much.

  11. Zaphod

    This would be fun with a Jag v12 and an E type rear end. Looks similar to a Drogo design. You’d need the weight in front if the fuel tank is in that tail piece.

  12. Neil G.

    Followed the link and found out the car sold for $38,500. at the 2014 Las Vegas Barret-Jackson auction.

  13. John H. in CT

    I was skeptical of the body style until I viewed the link of the completed car. It looks altogether badass. My vote is for V6 with as much power as you can get mated to 5 or 6 speed manual.

  14. Bill McCoskey

    I took a good look at the Silver restored car [link above]. This is one of the best finished kit cars I’ve seen in years. The restorer has managed to select the correct parts from existing vehicles [ rear bumpers, headlight nacelles, tail/park lites, side glass assemblies, etc]. So I have a challenge for fellow barn find members: Identify as many of these parts as you can! [And if possible, provide links to the cars they were used on originally].

  15. Doug Towsley

    Picture of my current Kit car project,. ( in the put up or shut up category, or “pix or it didnt happen!”)

    YES, both the donor and the kit shell need a bath. Both actually had been washed a few months ago but its Spingtime here and lots of tree pollen and storms. I bought 3 40 ft shipping containers and cleaning up, downsizing and Re-Org. If i cant fit it in existing space it gets sold.

    The Z car is headed in 2 weeks to the DMV for the VIN inspection and title change, as a donor for the kit car i can THEN start taking it apart and prepping for the kit body. (must be semi complete car for the VIN inspection)

    Currently my biggest dillema is what to paint it. I do my own body and paint and never going to a production guy, But LOVE LOVE to do custom paint!! So as a mega-huge fan of the 60’s Grand Sport Corvettes, I have done a lot of paint jobs in similar style and color. I use House of Kolors, Candy Cobalt Blue with Alaskan White stripes/accents and typically pinstripe the borders in gold.

    The other option is one I never would have considered years back but have grown obsessed with these days. Variations of the Gulf Racing colors. That light blue with Orange. If you do a search on google images with “Gulf racing paint” or colors it brings up a lot of really cool variations of the same theme.

    **IF** I paint this car with that color its going to turn a lot of heads, and attract a lot of attention. Not good for my driving record, but who drives a kit car and doesnt expect to get attention? This can get old sometimes. I used to work at a shop and we called it “The delay factor” driving any of the shops builds. Anywhere you stop people want to talk about the vehicle, ask questions or tell you about their neighbors uncles best friend. If it was a vehicle we were selling or planning too, we printed 3×5 cards with FAQs and history and just handed them over and it expedited things and you can try and make a quick exit.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Doug — Go Gulf! :-) Cannot go wrong. Alternative would obviously be the Shelby blue/white stripes… :-)

  16. Bill McCoskey

    Doug – I love the 3×5 card idea. Every time I take that Tatra T2-603 out for a drive, when I stop I’m surrounded by people asking lots of questions. I ended up putting large posters in both rear door windows, explaining what the car is, and providing a website for more info.

  17. Doug Towsley

    The posters are a good idea as well, but doesnt work on motorcycles. Sometimes just trying to make a quick getaway offends people and they are insulted you dont indulge their co-dependency and narcissism. Maybe hanging out for an hour discussing vehicles seems like a good idea to them, but after about the 200th time it gets draining but people dont seem to understand or grasp that concept.

    I often carry cards for upcoming events or our Museum i volunteer at and just re-direct. “Hey, my wifes expecting me, or on my way to (work, shop, event, meeting a friend)”

    I enjoy at times sharing knowledge and experience, but you also can get sucked into being recruited for someone elses project and I am working REALLY hard to reboot and reorg my own life and projects right now and DO NOT need distractions or additional projects. With over 140 motorcycle projects, and currently 18 cars/trucks Its all about downsizing. I no longer run a full time shop/business.

    I like the website idea as well, Sometimes there just is not a lot of info out there on a particular vehicle. Not that I have the time, but if i can find a 16 yr old with skills maybe I could pay them to make a basic site for info on each vehicle as well, and just hand out cards for that site and some others. “Gotta run, sorry, but this website should cover anything you need to know…..”

    Many of our members at our Museum See: http://nwcarandcycle.com/ have made vehicle wraps and large Magnetic signs and apply these to their vehicles (Trucks and Trailers) advertising our museum. They look great going down the road and good advertising. I have large Banners I have made, and hang them on my Cargo trailer at events, and I have Large Door Magnets for my Truck, But i dont like them on there otherwise as it makes me a target for thieves.

    Thanks Bill.

  18. ZMad

    These cars fly with a SBC and it’s a good fit, tons of cheap parts everywhere, probably in your shop right now. 383 with a big cam and dual quads on a tunnel ram gives mine tons of pucker factor. I used a TH-350 and 3:42 posi. No need to get all nostalgic with a 4 speed. Auto trans fits great. I ended up with a 12″ driveshaft with the motor back all it can go, about 3/4″ between the small billet distributor and the firewall. Built the frame by the original Kellison Plan-Pack specs with an old F-body front clip and ’85 Ford Ranger pickup leaf springs. Keeps the car very low. I have seen many of these on Corvette chassis and they look to me like they sit too high. This one looks a little odd as it has a post between the front and back side windows. Not sure if that is production, never seen one quite like it. Regarding the glass, make your life simple. I bought two pieces (one windshield and one rear window) 4’x2′ of Clear One Speed glass along with the 1/4″ thick rubber strip and some stainless steel Allen bolts. The rubber and bolts are available in a kit at Summit. Bolts to the original window opening flange. 5 years later no scratches.
    Going through mine for the second time now. Just added roll bars (modified a gen3 Camaro kit), oil cooler, 5 point harnesses, new gauges, Star (ratchet) shifter, power steering. The biggest fight I have is keeping it running cool. Hard to get a big radiator installed without spending big bucks. Seen some custom built to lay down kinda like a Vette, but with the return hose actually ported to the top of the tank.
    I like the 3×5 card idea, but it takes some of the fun out of it. I have had one person actually knew what it was in the 5+ years I have been showing it. Hell, I didn’t know what it was when I bought it!
    In the end, this is a very cool car to drive and show, gets tons of attention. I do agree with the general consensus that the price is pretty high for this car in this shape. Maybe if it was put together and drivable. Take a look at my X300GT. http://www.x300gt.com/. Please be patient as the slides load. Feel free to email with questions.

    • Doc Smith

      Check this article on cooling: http://www.tbucketeer.com/threads/cooling-secrets.12176/ Some great ideas, all tested on the road.

    • Doug Towsley

      Thanks for posting that, I only got 1/2 way thru the pix but will go back this weekend look at them again. Cool build, I dont care for the wavy paint in the interior but thats my only complaint, Thanks for the tip on the windows, I will look into that, espectially for my prewar coupes, Interesting to hear how its scratch resistant. On my kit car the back window is a weird bubble window arrangement, and no one seems to have a good solution other than redo the opening to take something that works or already exists.
      Do a google images search for Fiberfab Banshee and Caribee (They used both names, GM bought the rights to Banshee) Typically most people have a hard time getting a tunnel ram setup streetable, especially at lower RPMS, on mine i swapped out the 600 holleys to 450s and still had issues. But the look is always impressive.
      Thanks again for posting, sure blows a hole in the concept these are ugly and unattractive cars that should be destroyed.

      On cooling, I had the same problems on my Chevy Luv pickup running a V8, I ran a pusher fan but if you got caught in bumper to bumper traffic it was a serious problem. On one of my rat rods, I am thinking of running plumbing to the rear and running a radiator back there. Saw another and worked well, and really cleaned up the front end. People were always asking about it.

      • ZMad

        I hear that a lot about the tunnel ram but I have not had a problem. here’s my setup: Weiand HI-Ram, dual 450 mech secondary, no chokes, Holley black pump ans regulator about 4-5lbs. MDS 6AL and MSD85551 mech billet dist. Summit CT101k solid cam kit. 64cc aluminum heads. Idles around 1100 with a really badass rhythm and jumps right out of its shorts when you get on it. 28-32 Boss Hog stall. Cruising about 3.2K at 70mph, it is so light that it slingshots real good around 4-6k. 6.5k if you dare. I do not…lol. Gotta remember, the body is a mere 270lbs of 50+ year old fiberglass, firewall and floor included. I plan to get on the scales soon as I have added roll bars this year…
        I have tried many “creative cooling” systems, including my current sirocco type radiator and dual heater cores (old ford pickup, I think) in the front grill. Water outbound from the intake manifold to the cores and returns to the inlet side of the water pump. seems to work well so far. Also wrapped the headers to combat under hood temps. It has factory side vents to help suck out some heat but they cant keep up with the headers. I have tried several hood variations with different vents. Best seems to be to leave it off…
        In the end, it really is not of much concern. You will not spend much time driving this car no matter how you do it. Farthest single trip I made is about 180 miles in one day. Cockpit is very tight and hot. sitting in original fiberglass eggshell seats bolted to the floor. If you are much bigger than a jockey you will be cramped. You could try to make a “Grand Touring” car out of it as the badge alludes, but you would not want to pussify it to the point of creature comforts. You would be disappointed. These cars were made for one thing: to beat the AC Cobras of the day, and they did. The payoff here is when you need the thrill of driving a truly unique ’60’s era road race car that you can build in your back yard, and on a limited budget, this car will get you there. These days I have it street legal, registered and insured. It goes to the local cruise in and occasional trip the our local 1/8th mile strip for test and tune night. It definitely keeps up it’s side of the deal. Love it…

  19. Bill McCoskey

    Doug T —
    I’ve had several older British luxury cars come thru my shop, 50s & 60s era, many had cooling issues because of the higher ambient air temps in America and aftermarket A/C. In a couple of cars I created louvers in the inner front fenders to expel the hot air trapped under the hood. [Louver bulges into wheel well openings with the opening facing to the rear, to keep wheel well water out of the engine compartment.]

    On a couple cars I added multiple small 12v electric fans from older desktop computers, to push the hot air out when the car was in slow traffic, these had temp sensors to turn the fans on, plus an override switch to turn them on in advance.

  20. Doug Towsley

    Thx Bill, I like your ideas. In the 1950s Vincent motors in the UK developed the very first jet ski, and they miscalculated the heat issue. During a US press show the demo watercraft melted the bodywork due to the very same reasons as you mentioned and the watercraft sank in front of every news media that they could muster for the event. Not the press they wanted for the huge US debut to have the demo rider have to be rescued and pulled out of the water into a dinghy.

    I have several Buell Motorcycles. These are well known to cook the rear cylinders and like your ideas, besides the factory ducts and louvers, they offer a comfort kit with a larger set of ducts and ports, as well as insulation for the rider (Warms your oysters)
    and they have stock fans and higher output fans and you can program the ECM to kick on earlier and longer.

    Its always fun to park the bike and walk away and people freak out when they hear the fans running. I will be running NACA ducts on my kit car.. I sold a vintage bike to a guy who runs a race car shop, got the shop tour, besides some TVRs they build and develop some interesting race cars. They are running their cars up in Seattle this weekend at a big race. Check out their website:

    http://motor-sports-eng.com/index.html

    The 2 cars they are running this weekend are both powered by motorcycle engines, 200 hp, and in their class the car cannot weigh more than 800 pounds + driver, Thats a recipe for a LOT of fun!!!!!!

  21. Arthur

    I would give this car a custom tube chassis made from 1.625″ DOM 1020 steel tubing and fitted with suspension components from the Roadster Shop. Then I would install a supercharged 5.7 Hemi and a Tremec TKO 5-speed and wheels from American Racing Equipment. A convertible conversion might also be a good idea, since I read about such a conversion in Petersen’s Kit Car Magazine.

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