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by Jay Traugott
It may have been a kit car, but the Astra X-300 GT was powered by a Chevy small-block V8 and had a lightweight fiberglass body.
Kit cars have always varied in quality and performance. It's just the price one has to pay when opting to build or buy one. But every now and then, there's one that leaves a long-lasting impression in terms of beautiful styling and its powertrain. The story of the Kellison Astra X-300 GT goes back to when company founder, Jim Kellison, returned to the US from the Korean War. He wanted to build his own car that used a fiberglass body. Like the Corvette, fiberglass was an early solution to cut cars' weight.
Remember, this was before the days of lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum. Fiberglass also allowed for people who didn't have access to high-tech equipment to style their cars' bodies in some very imaginative ways. So Kellison got to work on his dream project and by 1957 the Kellison GT was ready. Kellison himself was actually an early pioneer in the kit car market and he didn't want his creation to simply be a one-off. The Kellison GT featured an original exterior design that was dramatic, sleek and beautiful all at once. It had a low stance and a long hood that made it look good both on the road and track.
The first Kellisons rode on a proprietary frame and had either tubular solid axles or units courtesy from Chevrolet. Kellison's first kit car was called the J4 and buyers could either build it themselves or buy it already assembled. It cost $7,600, which was quite a chunk of change for 1960, which is probably one of the main reasons why it didn't sell many. Power originally came from a Chevy 283 small-block V8 mated to a four-speed manual but the engine was upgraded in future models. For whatever reason, these Kellison kits were sold under the name "Allied" and by the mid-sixties, it was officially known as the Allied Astra.
Around this time, the X-300 GT debuted and it differed from the other Kellison kit cars due to its slightly raised roof and improved interior. This particular Astra X-300 GT that's up for grabs on eBay is not only rare because it's one of the last of its type but also because it's been completely restored. Powered by a 355 small-block V8 mated to a four-speed manual transmission, it has just 24,383 miles on the clock. It's painted silver metallic with black bucket seats and racing inspired seatbelts. The interior also features a custom steering wheel, gauges and even vintage switches that control the blinkers, lights, heater, fan and electric fuel pump.
It's had the same owner for the past 42 years and it was actually in storage beginning in 1974 until 2002 when the restoration began. It had a starting bid of $30,000 at the time of writing. Although it is a kit car, it does have a front-mounted Chevy small-block V8 and a stunning fiberglass body. Does that combination sound familiar to anyone else? It certainly does to Chevy. Photos courtesy of summerscarco.