At $18,000, Could This 1976 Kellison GT40 Be a Total Gas?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

While you may never have heard of Kellison, you assuredly know of the GT40. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe contender is the former that looks like the latter. Let’s see if this propane-powered kit car’s price has you giving it a second look.

As noted by many of you, yesterday’s 1988 Nissan 300ZX Turbo had a very thorough and appreciatively informative ad. The seller obviously took care in telling the car’s story, which went a long way in implying that the same care was given to the car. The car itself was a little more raggedy than the ad but at $6,000 it still managed to pull off a narrow 53 percent Nice Price win.


Let’s talk a bit about the kit car market. It’s a bit of an oddity—I mean how many of us have ever actually thought about building our own car when there are so many great “professional” models from which to choose? Well, some people just march to the beat of a different bongo.

Some in fact, don’t appreciate the cost or exclusivity of certain makes and models, and decide to go it alone. That has led to the rich kit car niche of homage cars, the most obvious of which is the Shelby Cobra. Today there are more Cobra kit cars in the world than there are the real deal.

A related model that the kit car industry has long flattered through imitation is Ford’s GT40 race car. Those, it should be noted, can be all over the map in terms of authenticity or desirability. Today’s 1976 Kellison GT40 may not be high on the first of those aspects. Hopefully its kit and price will encourage the second.


First, a bit of background.

Jim Kellison, for whom this car is named, entered the Air Force during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged from the Service on a hardship request in 1954, heading home to help his ailing father take care of the family farm. Farming was not in his blood however, and following the sale of the land, Kellison moved on to doing bodywork in his own shop and later as an employee of another fender bender.


It was during this time that he started work on a fiberglass road/race car that would carry his name. The J-series gained his modest company some notoriety, while the Formula V cars that followed took the Kellison name to greater visibility on the open wheel circuit.


This GT40 came later, and is one of the kits Kellison crafted back in the ‘60s before an issue with the IRS forced the closure of his eponymous body builder business. It’s a fairly faithful rendition of Ford’s iconic racer, and while you might image that it’s Volkswagen-based, it is in fact riding on a bespoke chassis and rocks a 500 cubic inch twin turbo Cadillac V8 under its back flipping engine cover.


That big-ass mill drinks propane rather than gasoline and that’s fed from what looks to be a forklift fuel tank placed longitudinally in the nose. That’s a little alarming when you envision a front-end crash, but then the answer to that is simply not to crash.

The car is complete and seemingly not just cobbled together. There is power steering and a three-speed automatic, this being an Eldorado drivetrain. Of course it’s also a kit car so many, many compromises have been made.


It’s also a little ungainly from some angles. The wheels appear to be spaced too far in their wells and it looks as though there is no window glass/plastic in the doors. On the other hand, those doors do reach well into the roof in real GT40 fashion. All that’s missing is a Gurney Bubble. And, well, windows.


Still, the basic steel structure looks to be in decent shape and of a build that doesn’t seem likely to collapse under its own weight. The fiberglass is also serviceable and the car appears roadworthy save for a lack of wipers. The interior looks tight with egress that appears allows only the modest of physiques. A wooden dashboard is festooned with a mix of Auto Meter gauges and ‘60s switchgear, along with a woefully out of place ‘90s stereo. The steering column beneath that dash is vexing me because I can’t seem to be able to place its stalks.


The seller says the car comes with a binder full of info and a mere 371 non-actual miles on the clock. That latter is apparently due to an odometer issue, but with a car as unique as this who are we to quibble?

What we can quibble over is the price. This may be a kit car but it’s one with actual provenance and has a weird enough drivetrain to make it more interesting than your basic Vee Dub re-tub. Could that be worth $18,000, however?


That’s the asking price for this Kellison. Everything about the car is a bit of an approximation. It’s almost a GT40, registered as a ’76 but was built in the ‘80s, and that propane fuel means that you’d have to “gas it up” way more often than your barbecue. Still, it has a clear title and a ton of history. Could that make it worthy of being in someone’s future?


You decide!


Racing Junk out of Celina, OH, or go here if the ad disappears.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.