I keep finding more information about Kellison Sports Cars, but in catalogs from companies named “Astra” and then “Allied.” I haven’t had a chance to dig into the history of the fiber cars from the ‘60s in great detail yet, so I did the next best thing – I called fiberglass sports car historian Harold Pace.
Harold is the go-to-guy for fiberglass and sports car – bar none.
He spent time reviewing with me the history of Kellison and some of the companies they were affiliated with – one of those being Astra – later renamed as “Allied” (Great! Another fiberglass sports car company called “Allied.” More about the many faces of “Allied” in a future story).
Harold suggested I review his book, “The Big Guide to Kit & Specialty Cars” for more detail, and gave permission to reproduce the story he wrote about Astra and Allied – here on Forgotten Fiberglass (thanks Harold!)
So, let’s have a look what Harold Pace had to say about Astra and Allied – a Kellison affiliate company from the early and mid ‘60s.
The Big Guide to Kit & Specialty Cars (2000)
By Harold Pace
Allied / Astra Sports Cars
Kellison coupe and roadster bodies were also sold by Allied Fiberglass in Sacramento, California during the mid-1960s. They also built a VW-based kit copied from the Fibefab Aztec called the VWGT 2+2, a dune buggy called the June Bug and T-bucket kits.
Car bodies were just one of Allied’s many products, which included fiberglass boats, containers and restaurant supplies. As Astra took over production of the J and K series cars, Kellison had dropped all models except the J-6 coupe by 1965.
Astra made three variations on the coupe, one of which was the J-5 with the 102” wheelbase. It worked best on a special Astra frame or modified 1955-1957 Chevy frame. Chevy or Corvette frames were lowered 4” in front and kicked over the rear axle.
The J-5 came with four headlights using 1959 Buick light assemblies. A shorter but nearly identical version, the Astra J-4, fit 94” – 98” wheelbases and came with single headlights on each side. J-4s were also made to fit an Astra chassis.
The Astra J-3 roadster fit 90” to 92” wheelbase cars like the MG’s and Volkswagens. Recommended chassis was the MGTD or MGA with a Chevy V-8. A short-wheelbase coupe (the J-2) had a “double bubble” roof similar to the Fiat Abarth sports car. It was the same as the old Kellison K-3 body. Although any chassis could be used, it was primarily designed around the Triumph TR-3.
For the lower roofline, the Studebaker windshield was cut down by 5”. J-2 was now the name for the shortest kit, not the longest like it had been for Kellison.
A final variation on the basic Kellison design was done by Astra General Manager Allen M. Germaine. Called the Astra X-300 GT, it was purely an Astra model and not sold by Kellison. Starting with the standard J-5 shape, the roof was raised 2 and ½ inches to gain some head room.
Roll up windows were standard and functional rear fender scoops were used for cockpit ventilation and brake cooling. Special dual side vents ducted out hot engine air to alleviate cockpit heating. The old Chrysler door hinges made way for Corvette parts. They were delivered with the dash, cockpit and firewall installed. The wheelbase was 94” to 98”, and the Astra frame was recommended.
For racing, Astra sold special lightweight versions of their roadster bodies with optional headrests. The Competition 100 body fit 88” to 92” wheelbases, while the Competition 200 fit 96” to 100” wheelbases.
The Astra chassis was the later Kellison unit, which normally used Corvette suspension at the front with a live axle at the rear. Optional front suspensions included Chevy sedan, Corvair and Plymouth Valiant torsion bar. Rear springs were 1949-1950 Ford.
The frame was a similar to a Corvette chassis, except the engine was set back for better weight distribution and the rear axle slung over the frame for a lower center of gravity. Made from 3” x 4” steel tube, the chassis was strengthened by an X-brace that made it possible to build a complete car that weighed about 2250 pounds.
The frames, which could be ordered to fit the J-4, J-5 or X-300 bodies, sold for $295 each in 1966. The Astra bodies dropped from sight in the late 1960s.
Allen M. (Max) Germain:
President, Astra Automotive Division
Thanks For Your Interest In Our Astra Products
So far, the earliest catalog from Astra I found is from the Winter of ‘62/’63, and this is before they changed their name to “Allied.” Inside this catalog – which is the focus of today’s story – is an introductory note from the President of Astra – Allen M. Germain. Let’s have a look at Allen Germain he had to say:
This catalog introduces you to the Astra Automotive Division of International Fiberglass Products Corporation. IFPC is nationally recognized as a leading manufacturer of many products – containers, marine equipment, hotel and restaurant supplies, and gaskets.
Our corporation also produces vital fiberglass products for government projects. Our expansion from a small shop to modern plants in Sacramento, California and Sauk Centre, Minnesota, emphasizes the success of our sincere effort to build quality merchandise.
As founder of the Astra Automotive Division, I have been in active control of the business since it started, and I can personally guarantee complete customer satisfaction.
I cordially invite you to inspect for yourself the quality and styling we advertise so readily, as I’m sure your reaction will be the same as others who have visited our plants or have seen our products throughout the world.
I greatly appreciate your interest in our products.
Allen M. (Max) Germain
President Astra Automotive Dvision
So… without further delay, let’s have a look at the full 16-page Astra Catalog from the Winter of ’62-’63. And remember, as with every image here at Forgotten Fiberglass, be sure to use your mouse and click on the image to make it appear larger on your screen.
Astra Automotive Division
Winter 1962-1963 / $1.00
Thanks again to Harold Pace for his added detail about this company. Click here if you wish to review Harold’s book in more detail and consider purchasing it. Astra soon changed its name to Allied Fiberglass Company, and expanded its product line. Look to more about this fascinating fiberglass company in future stories here on Forgotten Fiberglass.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…