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						Kellson J5 11
Buy All The Kellison J-Cars Now

Kellison J-cars present strong investment potential

By Dean Larson

Photos: Sellers, Craigslist and BringaTrailer.com

Sometimes I hesitate to share my best ideas and finds with you, but then I remember that I’m not sitting on a pile of cash at home, and you’re probably not listening any way. But in the event that you are, I suggest you go out and purchase every cheap Kellison J-car you can find. To prove the merit and financial upside in restoring these early fiberglass greats, I present this rough Kellison J-5 on Dallas Craigslist, which is an enticing buy at just $3,500.

Seeing as we dove deep into Kellison J-cars last week, I won’t bog you down with a full history. But as a quick primer, Jim Kellison’s J-5 coupe shared much of its DNA with his first car, the J-4. They’re quite similar visually, except that the J-5 has a 1-inch taller roofline, recessed taillights and quad headlamps in place of the J-4’s two. The doors were also extended five inches to make the car more practical for street use, and it rode on a longer 100-104-inch wheelbase. Customers could buy a Kellison J-5 coupe kit for $700 back in the mid 1960s, which would be equivalent to roughly $6,000 today, meaning they were fairly expensive project cars to build.

V8-based Kellison J-cars come up for sale from time to time, and I feel like it’s most often rough project cars that we see, and usually right around the $3,500 mark. But the value of these cars seems to be on the rise lately, which is especially evident through the lens of BringaTrailer.com. This enthusiast auction site has sold two Kellison J-cars in the last few months for north of $50,000. The most recent was the J-4R we looked at last week, which had great looks and well-documented history. Despite being a little rough around the edges, the J-4R brought a $51,000 sale price.

The next example I want to site was a J-6 Panther which sold back in December of 2020. It was a fantastic build (I argued one of the nicest Kellisons in existence), and it brought just short of $65,000, possibly even exceeding the seller’s expectations. Now these are surely two of the nicest Kellisons to sell recently, but when you study all seven J-car auctions that have taken place on BaT in recent years, I think there’s at least solid evidence of an upward trend.

For now I’ll leave you to complete that market research on your own, but I want to briefly dive into what it might take to restore a Kellison to that level, and if this car on Dallas Craigslist is worth the effort. One immediate positive is that there’s no right or wrong way to build these cars, seeing as they were all custom builds. The ’59 J-4R that sold recently goes to show that even a fully custom chassis won’t hurt the value much versus a period-correct unit. For this car, I’d probably start with an all-new chassis, as this one looks a little shoddy from what we can see in the photos. I'd go with the proven formula of Mustang II front, Chevrolet small-block, five-speed TREMEC and a Ford 9-inch rear on this car. Beyond being a foolproof way to setup a car, these parts are all as common as can be, and very affordable as well.

Except for some funny business in the interior panels, most of this J-5's fiberglass actually looks to be in pretty good shape. The seller clearly identifies that the hood, hinges and glass are not included in the sale, but there could be worse things. A hood could probably be sourced, or maybe made using a wireframe. I don't think the glass would be too challenging to sort out either, as a rear windshield could be made from Plexiglass and I believe Kellison sourced front windshields from readily available donor cars. In the case of the J-5, I believe ’49-’52 Studebaker windshields were used, along with ’49 Cadillac rear glass if memory serves.

Of course you’ll have to be pretty talented in many aspects of the build if you want to build a J-car for profit, but with some $50,000 of budget to keep you in the positive, I’d say the outlook is overwhelmingly positive. Find this Kellison J-5 here on Dallas Craigslist, and when you restore it make a whole stack of cash, remember who sent ya!

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Kellison Project Car