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Panther Ready to Pounce: 1958 Kellison J6

Personally, I appreciate being alive in our time. Great medical breakthroughs, small batch whiskey, and a magical device called the “smartphone”. All great stuff. But if a time machine did exist, and I could jump back and forth between present and the past – I would have to pick Southern California in the late 1950’s. Malibu, movie stars, mid-century design upsetting tradition, and pioneering auto enthusiasts with visions of their own brand of fast, sleek, fun speed demons – a great example found here on eBay, created by Jim Kellison.

This particular Kellison J-6 Panther is said to be built on a 1958 corvette platform, as most of the Kellison models were based on. In fact, even on this body you can clearly see the dials, speedometer, and the 4 on the floor H pattern placard lifted directly from the donor car. Over the years, however, someone updated the rear to have more modern slatted brake lights, whereas Kellison’s original designs paid homage to the round spectacle lights starting on the 1961 series. At the same time, someone added massive side pipes and modern wheels all around.

Personally, I’d strip this car to its bones, and return to its roots of aspiration, inspiration, and honorable roots – an ode to Jim Kellisons dream of creating a true, American race car to compete with the likes of Ferrari, Alfa, and the Porsche’s of the day. Jim himself was accustomed to going fast – and after serving as a U.S fighter pilot in the Korean war, he set out to create a new brand that returned the country he fought for to the top of the racing heap. His first national exposure  (a 1959 Hot Rod magazine article) called the factory built J-4 “…a wonderful long-distance touring car, but too pretty to race…”, and it sent Kellison back to the drawing board with Indy car chassis builder Chuck Manning.

The result was a string of class wins from 1961 to 1965, and plenty of publicity for an American beating much better funded European makers. Kellison decided to leave racing in 1970, starting a successful book store, but still had the need for speed in his blood, starting another fiberglass car company in 1976 to produce the Stallion (one of the first Cobra replica kits.) Jim passed away in 2004, leaving behind a legacy of classic, gorgeous cars. Just take a look below at an original racer in all its glory!


  1. Adam T45 Staff

    I’m with you on this one Garr. This car deserves to be returned to its original glory and design intent. Those simply hideous wheels would have to go, and I’m not a great fan of the side-pipes either. The engine could be made to perform without substantially changing the outward appearance (decent pistons, port and polish, port-match the inlet manifold and a full internal balance). It would be smooth but powerful, and with the right wheels and paintwork, it would most definitely tick all of the boxes. And it would be awesome fun to drive as well!

    Like 0
    • Mike

      I’m the one who bought the 1958 Kellison J-6 Panther. What does everyone mean by bring it back to Original? So far I have removed the side pipes, next the wheels have to go. I’ve got some wire wheels for it , but have decided to go with Centerlines. Not having a good time trying to register it here in California. Have other plans for tail-lights

      Like 3
      • sluggo

        Mike, Congratulations! I am not sure what anyone means by “original” as its well, Basically a custom one off and few were likely exactly the same so dont worry about the rivet counters IMHO.
        Do you have plans for the side pipes? I could use them on a kit car project I have (Fiberfab Banshee/Caribee) do you have a contact number or email??
        Again, CONGRATULATIONS! Beautiful car!

        Like 0
  2. doug

    Beautiful car with terrible pictures.

    Like 0
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I agree doug! Sold. Winning bid:US $15,000.00
      [ 1 bid ]

      Like 0
  3. Rock On Member

    Losing the modern wheels and air filter can only improve this car.

    Like 0
  4. Joel

    Chuck manning didn’t design Indy car chassis. He designed a sports car chassis for his car and sold the plans for other to make copies. He gave Jim Kellison a set of plans for this car (not the same chassis as his own) that you could buy for $5 or Jim would sell you a completed frame. Also note that Chuck died in 59 so the hand off of the frame design was pre 59. I can get an exact date of you’d like.

    Like 0
  5. PeterK

    Beautiful car. Terrible Pictures. The person that bought it got a great deal. I hope this person does right by it and takes care of all the blemishes….

    Like 1
  6. sluggo

    Yes, Beautiful car, I personally LIKE the side pipes on this one but agree the wheels need changing. At the sales price (Assuming it goes thru) its a awesome deal.

    Like 1
    • Mike

      I’m replying to your question on Jan 3rd 2019. I have no plans for the side pipes at present. If you go on the internet you can get new ones ( same as mine ) for $336.39 shipped free. Where are you located?

      Like 1
      • sluggo

        I am just outside Portland Oregon up in the hills, Not a lot of places sell side pipes like that anymore, But I think Speedway still has them, If yours are not in bad shape Id be interested. I have friends in Calif. who travel back and forth, and will likely be down myself to the bay area sometime in the Spring, FREE shipping would be a big bonus, as other forms tend to be expensive for large items. (Fastenal sometimes offers good deals, as well as the bus services. Have used them for motorcycle frames)

        Like 0
    • Mike

      Sluggo. I’ve been thinking about the side pipes, and I think I’m going to hang on to them for now. I may want to re-install them later.

      Like 1
  7. Michael

    I am a bit worried why they don’t show the front of the car. Is it that bad?

    Like 0
    • Dickie F

      Hi Michael. Front and rear photos appeared on ebay.
      Front and rear attached.

      Like 2
  8. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Love this, hope it’s treated right.

    Like 0
  9. Fran

    Lol what’s it look like?

    Like 0
  10. Dickie F


    Like 1
  11. Pete

    Wow that is one sexy beast. I wonder how many were produced.

    Like 0

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