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Kelmark GT Kit Car, Including Complete Instructions, Parts List, Wiring Diagram

My Kelmark GT was handed down to me by my father, who built it just before I was born. It had been mothballed for many years, due to crash.

Building the Kelmark, "Weekend 1"

This was part of a binder that was given to Kelmark owners in about 1975.

Do You Like Kit Cars?

I really like kit cars.

One reason is that if I had a Dino 246 or a Porsche 904 I would be loath to modify it at all. But with a Kelmark, I could really let my imagination run wild, because I could do whatever I wanted to it, without ruining its value.

1972 Kelmark GT, rear-mounted Type IV engine

1972 Kelmark GT, rear-mounted Type IV engine

This Was My 1972 Kelmark GT

My Kelmark GT (NOT for sale) was built by my father many years ago. Originally it was blue (the other original options being white and yellow), but later I painted it yellow.

Kelmark Engineering produced these kits in the '70s and '80s. What distinguished Kelmarks from other kit cars was that Kelmarks had roll-up windows and working doors. They were modeled after a few racing cars of the day, including the Dino 246 (related to Ferrari) and possibly the Porsche 904.

Most Kelmarks had a stock Volkswagen Type I engine, the same one used in the Beetle. Not mine!

Kelmark GT

Kelmark GT

The Story of My Kit Car

My car started as a 1972 VW Beetle that my father purchased to start a business. The idea was that he would build these in the area and sell them at a profit. The building of the car went great, the selling - not so much. No one would buy it.

It featured a Type IV engine, the same engine used in the Porsche 914 as well as the 1976 VW van. It was a rear-mounted engine, which when someone asks "what's under the hood?" you can expect to have an interesting conversation.

The Kelmark turned into my father's daily driver for many years. Sometime in the 1990s, it was mothballed at the Mazda dealership that my father worked at.

I bothered him continuously, once I was old enough, to bring it home and allow me to work on it.

Finally, he did. It was in remarkable shape, all things considered. Yes there were pits in the completely fiberglass body, but nothing some bondo and block sanding wouldn't fix.

Amazingly, with some fresh gas, the engine would still turn over and start.

Kelmark GT

Kelmark GT

Plans for the Kelmark

I had amazing plans for it. Lofty plans, that looking back, were quite ridiculous. I was going to put it on a Subaru chassis, add all-wheel drive, swap in a flat 6 engine, and turbocharge it.

Something that, frankly, would never happen.

Instead, my current plans are to restore it to what it was. Yes, I might make some changes, but nothing wild like that. When I have the time, I I plan on converting it to an all-disk brake system (only the front are disks now, Karmann Ghia disks, I believe). Maybe some interior work, since the cloth and leather are all old, or gone. Maybe some air conditioning, or at least a fan to blow air. Living in Florida, driving the Kelmark could be a miserable experience. And something for the windshield fogging up when it rains. Fogging nearly caused me to crash, I was basically driving blind until I learned to pull over when it started raining.

Kelmark after painting, before head lights in place

Kelmark after painting, before head lights in place

I Spent Many Hours Working on the Exterior

I put bondo in the pitted and chipped areas, and block-sanded my baby for hours. My dad helped me replace the clutch, which was actually quite easy, all things considered. The engine is so light, you can balance it on a floor jack and move it away, to access the clutch. It has a progressive Weber carburetor right now.

We would have liked to do classic silver or even black, but considering the amount of damage the exterior had, that would not be an option. My father suggested that yellow seems to hide imperfections well, so the plan was to paint it yellow, with eventually a black stripe down the center.

Kelmark GT test drive

Kelmark GT test drive

The Kelmark Became My Daily Driver

I drove the Kelmark to college at USF, and it was remarkably reliable, aside from the aforementioned fogging.

It was quite a rough ride, but handled well. The manual Porsche transaxle was a blast to drive, and it was responsive.

How the Kelmark Went Into Retirement

Unfortunately, one day I put some engine cleaner in it. Apparently, this knocked some gunk loose, causing it to stall. I pulled apart the carburetor and cleaned it. I ran it a while at the house, just to make sure.

I was halfway home, stopped at a light, when my engine stalled again. The light turned, and my engine wouldn't start. I turned on my emergency flashers.

It was no use.

Sadly, I was struck from behind. I was safe, but my baby was damaged, and hasn't really been driven since. The exhaust was bent and broken, the right rear wheel well was cracked, and there was a brake line leaking ... somewhere.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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