1962 Chevrolet American Special RacecarSOLD
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Engine Type: Corvette Fuel Injected 327 c.i. 8-Cylinder
Color:Metallic Blue / Red

Reference Number 53102

as of 10/6/2009

Overview
Car 1962 Chevrolet American Special Racecar
VIN Irv Dickson's Period Racer 
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Known History

 

1962 Kellison Corvette

(Irv Dickson’s Period Racer)

Blue with Red Interior

 

During the 1950s and 1960s American Special racecars were a common sight at race meetings all over the US where they competed head to head with considerable success against the very best that the European manufactures could offer. Often hybrids by design, these American Specials were built from combinations of the preferred equipment available to the motoring public from their era, and are generally one-of-a-kind with colorful history.

 

This particular Kellison-Corvette was period professional driver Bart Martin’s 1963 winning car at Laguna Seca, Salt Lake City, Cotati, Stockton, Candlestick Park, and Vacaville. It is an important and impressive American Special both in terms of history and engineering. It is restored and presented as raced in the 1963 season with a 327c.i. Fuel Injected Corvette engine and transmission, and Triumph TR2 based chassis. Recently restored from the chassis up by the original constructor and campaigned with great success in the Monterey Historics, and HMSA vintages, and appears to be eligible for FIA papers to compete the world over against multi-million dollar Ferraris, Maseratis, and Jaguars.

 

After purchasing the car, the current owner had to convince Bart’s original builder, Irv Dickson, to help with the restoration. Help turned into almost a full time job for Irv, and following the completing the restoration the car was raced for several years in various West Coast vintage events.

 

In 1959, Irv’s wife Barbara had an accident in her 1956 Triumph TR2 sports car. Irv ended up with the remains, and he had a friend in Folsom, Jim Kellison, who was beginning to make a name for himself by selling fiberglass sports car bodies, car kits, and later, dune buggies and Formula Vee kits. A decision was made to turn the remains of theTR2 into a Kellison-bodied sports car, powered by the original TR 2 engine. Jim Kellison, like Bill Devin, was making sports car bodies that allowed an MG or a Triumph to be converted to something more competitive. Irv chose the “baby Kellison roadster” configured for cars with an 86 to 90-inch wheelbase. This particular body is very rare as Kellison only made five “baby roadster” bodies, then rebuilt the mold to make a small coupe. The car was completed in the spring of 1960. Irv drove it nearly every day on the street and the car also completed with some success in various Sports Car Club of America events from 1960 to 1962.

 

The Kellison’s star driver Bart Martin was a young rancher from Hayward, California, and was a talented road racer competing in the San Francisco region of SCCA. Bart started his racing career with a 1957 Corvette that he purchased from Bob Bondurant. He had many wins with this car in the early 60’s. At the end of 1962 Bart decided he wanted to go faster. He had a brother-in-law, Don Girard, working as a mechanical engineer at Aerojet in Sacramento, California. Irv Dickson and Jim Payne were also working at Aerojet and living in Folsom, California.

 

Irv had started a small business, Grizzly Engineering, in Folsom, California, fabricating racecar parts and racecar chassis. His day job was still at Aerojet and he was working closely with Don Girard and Jim Payne. Jim was racing a Corvette in SCCA events. Bart approached Don, Jim and Irv about forming a serious race team, and the group decided in late 1962 to form a partnership and put a V8 in the Kellison. About Christmas 1962 they took delivery of a new Fuel Injected 327 cubic inch Corvette engine and transmission and spent the winter squeezing it into the Kellison for the 1963 season. The addition of the fuel injected Corvette made the Kellison-Triumph-Corvette a weapon of choice that proved immensely competitive- winning several West Coast events in 1963.

 

 

Many of the design and build team was working at Aerojet to build rocket engines for various government projects. Jim Payne, a Corvette owner, took care of the fuel injected engine and the Corvette sintered metallic brakes. Irv Dickson was a model maker at Aerojet and a skilled machinist and fabricator. Bart’s brother-in-law, Don Girard, was a mechanical design engineer and developed a very unique rear suspension that Irv fabricated. This suspension was one of the inspirations that made this car so unique. It is a zero roll, low roll center solid axle design that really worked. A transverse rear spring is mounted on a central pivot, allowing the spring to rotate with no resistance as the car rolls in a turn. A sliding pillar under the differential is located by a large monoball and this defines a very low rear roll center, about four inches off the ground. This approach addressed the two big problems with solid rear axles, reducing roll stiffness and lowering the rear roll center. It worked like a charm, no doubt contributing to the excellent results Bart had with the car. The team probably should have listed Aerojet as a sponsor, as many hours were spent around the water cooler and in the machine shop helping the Kellison along!

 

After the 1963 wins at Laguna Seca, Salt Lake City, Cotati, Stockton, Candlestick Park and Vacaville, among others, Bart could see the handwriting on the wall, and he wanted to join the move to mid-engine race cars. For the 1964 season Bart Martin adopted a Cooper Monaco, also with a 327c.i. V8 and the Kellison lay dormant until restored by Irv Dickson himself with the current owner. Once finished, over $45,000 in parts and 2000 hours had been invested.

 

The result is a fresh and beautifully restored, well sorted Kellison fit for vintage racing Stateside, or in Europe. Cosmetically the car sparkles with a freshly powered coated chassis and obvious attention to detail in the restoration process. The work was clearly a done with a no expense spared, professional mindset and today the car is more beautiful than when new.

 

As a historically significant, attractive, and competitive vintage racecar, this Kellison-Corvette should appeal to the competitively-minded racer looking for a relatively inexpensive mount capable of snatching victories from some of Europe’s most illustrious makes and models. With the car comes two extra wheels with tires, some fuel injection spares, and period photos of Bart Martin and Irv Dickson with this Kellison during the 1963 season.

 

Technical Specifications:

Chassis: 1956 Triumph TR2

Engine: 1963 327 Cu In Fuel Injected Corvette. Approximately 400 HP

Transmission: 1963 Warner T10 Four speed

Rear End: 1957 Chevrolet – Narrowed

Brakes: 1963 Corvette Sintered Metallic Drums

Wheelbase: 88 Inches, tread 48 Inches

Weight: 1650 pounds dry