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No Reserve: 1981 Kelmark GT

One of the cool things that set Kelmark Engineering apart from some of the other kit car manufacturers is that they also offered finished products, complete and ready for the buyer to hop in and drive away, along with DIY also a popular option.  And though the GT was apparently Kelmark’s most popular vehicle, it’s still not a very common sighting and a guaranteed head-turner, so if you’ve been in the market for something unusual this 1981 Kelmark GT here on eBay might be worth checking out.  The car is presently in Hendersonville, Tennessee, with bidding only up to $5,200 plus there’s no reserve.

From a distance, this car looks really good, and even up close the body appears decent overall, just be aware that there are a few areas where the fiberglass is showing some stress marks, such as this area on the driver’s side door.  There’s also an imperfection here, but overall things seem reasonably solid and the seller does a good job describing what you’re getting here, both in his posting and also in the walkaround video provided.

The seller doesn’t say exactly how long he’s owned the GT but does mention that it’s gone through at least one period of sitting.  The previous owner also told him it’s powered by a 2000cc Volkswagen engine, although that’s not been confirmed, but we do get another video with the car being started and get to hear the engine running.  Three things mentioned are it could use a tune-up, a new fuel pump, and the tapping that can be heard in the motor is gasoline getting into the oil.  The transmission is said to go through all the gears well.

A third video shows the interior, and I agree with the seller that it seems well finished in there and not just bare-bones like some kit cars tend to appear inside.  The seats and carpet are stated as excellent as is the dash, but there is an area under the dash where the covering needs to be reglued and the passenger side window needs to be put back on its track.  A full set of VDO gauges are in place plus there’s also a roll bar, just in case that VW powerplant gets too out of control.

One other detail that should be noted is there’s a Massachusetts registration sticker on the window from 1994, so the car has spent some time up north and the underside is no stranger to winter travel.  But the seller is straightforward about this and provides a couple of photos from down below, and other than the one area we can see above believes most of the rest of the undercarriage is sound.  If competition doesn’t go haywire on the last day, somebody may end up getting a decent deal on this fun car, and I’m curious what our readers think would be a fair price for what we’re seeing here.  Has anybody ever owned one of these or know someone who has?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Never owned one but came real close to buying a kit when they first came out. Life got in the way of that one but the GT was the only kit I really liked. Pan is pretty rough, but if the car is bought right changing out the pan should not be a big problem. Would be nice to see it brought back to it’s original glory.

    Like 9
  2. Tony Primo

    I prefer the Kelmarks with the Oldsmobile 455 in the back with the Toronado transaxle.

    Like 11
  3. Marko

    This Kelmark looks to be in pretty good condition, and looks like a good project. I see a lot of design influence from a Dino 246GT in these cars.
    Fix up the problems with the floor pan. Get the engine a going over, so it runs great, then drive and enjoy. If it doesn’t have enough power for the new owner, give it a Subaru turbo swap, that is common for VW’s.

    I know a local fellow, who had a Kelmark GT project, with a Corvair engine/axle. He went thru a divorce, and it got auctioned off in the proceedings.

    Like 6
  4. Dave

    I never liked the Beetle based kits, I’d much rather have the Beetle. This one could be fun if converted to electric. But it will always just drive like a Beetle, so it’s a poser for sure.

    Like 4
  5. Chinga-Trailer

    When on online seller tells you it needs a tune-up andhas a tapping caused by gasoline in the oil, well, he has just euphemistically told us the engine is shot, needs a complete rebuild.

    Like 11
    • 428CobraJet

      my money says pulled studs

      Like 0
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Worked on that fact for a while myself and just couldn’t come up with a way gas getting into the oil would make a tapping sound. Several ways oil could get into the oil on an engine like this, all of which has to do with things like valve seals and guides, bad rings, etc.

      Like 1
      • 428CobraJet

        could also have a bad fuel pump.
        But certainly either exhaust gaskets/header/pulled stud issues.

        Compression test would say alot

        Like 1
      • Steve RM

        I once had gas in the oil of my Bug. It was the fuel pump. Luckily I must have caught it early. I replaced the fuel pump right away and the engine was fine. In fact it still runs great and that was many years and many miles ago.

        Like 1
      • bobhess bobhess Member

        Like the fuel pump possibility. That would do it.

        Like 0
  6. ACZ

    Too bad this was done on a VW chassis. There were some done with a Mid-Engineering chassis and the Olds Toronado Drivetrain in the rear. Those were amazing. Kelmark was headquartered near Lansing, Michigan. The Toronado powered conversion was engineered by an Olds Engineer by the name of Bill Porterfield. The same guy that built Hot Rod Magazine Street Machine of the year back in about 1979 or so. That was a 78 Cutlass fastback coupe with a blown Olds V8 in the back seat. He also did a lot of restoration work on a couple of the Fred Gibbs Chevrolet ZL1 Camaros. An amazing guy. Another toy he had was a T bucket with a Buick Turbo V6 in the back. Still another was a late model Corvair with a Toronado powertrain in the back.

    Like 6
    • Stan

      Too cool 😎 great info ACZ

      Like 3
      • ACZ


        Like 0
  7. John

    I’ve had 4 Beetles. I don’t get the owner’s comment on the fuel pump. Yes it can leak fuel into the oil and thin it out. But the fuel pump on these engines is simple to replace. Why not spend 30 min. and replace it? Likely the cam, lifters or both have worn because of the fuel contamination. Means the engine will have to come out. Oil pump will have to be replaced also.

    Like 0
  8. Danno

    Nicely done, these look sharp in white, love the turbine mags.

    Like 0

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