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						Kellison J6 Panther
Kellison’s J6 Panther is an Otherworldly Super Coupe

Kellison J6 Panther for auction on BringaTrailer.com

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

Jim Kellison’s successes in the early days of fiberglass are well known, and a number of articles online have detailed the volume and variety of cars he sold. But what I think is missing from those accounts is what made Kellison’s cars special. A perfected example of his unique breed, this J6 Panther model up for auction on BringaTrailer.com shows how Kellison was able to create otherworldly super coupes with sensible, high-performance, donor options.

To give you an idea of how ahead of his time Jim Kellison was, consider that this car was designed some time around 1956. Think about that for a moment. In 1956, America was warming up to the new redesigned C1 Corvette and Ford’s most serious performer was the Thunderbird. Most folks drove Chevrolets, Fords, Studebakers, Chryslers and the like, all big cars offering very little if you wanted to go fast. These were the days when guys who understood the new medium of fiberglass could really get ahead. Many, like Jim Kellison, offered lightweight composite body kits that fit on popular donors, allowing guys to build cars in their garages that were affordable and fun to drive. Filling a whole in the market that Detroit had only toyed with, Kellison was making a name for himself with one-off fiberglass body conversions for small sports cars by the late 1950s. But it would be Kellison’s full-size J-cars that put his company on the map, such as the J-4, J-5 and J-6 models.

All three of these cars were based off the J-4 design, which was more or less a full-size custom GT car designed for V8 engines. The radical profile of the J-4 followed Kellison’s basic J-car formula, but with added flare and more radical lines. A long and sleek hood led back to a fastback cockpit far back on the car’s silhouette. The tail was section featured tall rear fender arches with a strong body line at the back that could have very well influenced the C2 Corvette.

All together, the designs of these J-cars seem to be playing by their own set of rules when compared to anything else being built in the early 1960s. It feels like the J-6 is something of science fiction, straight out of a 1950s car comic, as its hyper-stylized features make it seem like something the antagonist would drive. It’s not as elegant as Ferraris of the day, but it’s much more aggressive, with a different persona all together. When compared with average American cars of the time, it’s difficult to come up with a worthy peer, at least not until the mid 1960s.

The J-4 was on the market by 1960, available as a body kit or turnkey vehicle. The J-5 would come out later, and featured angled quad headlights and a roomier cockpit. The J-6 Panther was very similar to the J-4, but featured an angled grille and a pointier tail section. Kellison also designed the J-6 to fit on a standard ’53-’62 Corvette chassis with very few modifications, which was a total game changer, considering earlier cars required a custom chassis.

The J6 Panther model up for auction here on BringaTrailer.com is without-a-doubt one of the nicest J-cars we’ve ever seen. It’s based on a full custom chassis with a 306 ci Chevrolet small-block and Muncie M20 four-speed manual transmission. Out back there’s a narrowed Ford 9-inch axle with a limited-slip differential. The custom chassis keeps the car close to ground when compared to other J-cars, and a set of staggered slot-mag wheels are fitted with retro BFGoodrich rubber — and they fit the wheel wells perfectly. Peer through those vintage slots and you’ll find finned drum brakes, fitting for a ’60s custom look. The interior is fairly basic, fit only with a pair of buckets, some carpet and a compliment of Stewart-Warner gauges on a machine-turned panel.

According to the seller, the car was used for drag racing when it was first built from 1968 to 1970. The car was refurbished some around 2014, and repainted in Petrol Blue Metallic — an OE Porsche shade. Other unique features on the body include a modified 1955 Chevrolet grille, indicators and rocker panel trim from a 1965 Ford Mustang, C1 Corvette taillights and a Chrysler flip-open gas cap. All together, curb appeal is second to none on this Kellison, and the seller’s video indicates she’s a good driver as well.

At this point, it’s safe to say this J6 has me smitten, and I think we could very well see a new high water mark for the brand with this one. The current bid sits at $18,500 with five days remaining in the sale. Check it out here on BringaTrailer.com.

This article has been corrected in regards to the designer of Kellison J-cars, Jim Kellison.

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