Note: This is the first of a two-part story on Byers, Kellison, and Fiberglass Trends.
Click here to review both parts of the story.
So what is the legacy of car models and their molds after the designer, creator, and manufacturer have finished? Most are sold and seem to disappear from the face of the earth, and trying to find the molds after 50+ years is probably a task better left undone. We’ve found ads for molds for sale in the ‘50s and early ‘60s for McCormack, Bangert, Allied, and even other cars too, but rarely do the molds seem to survive.
A few notable exceptions exist such as Sorrell, but there is good news. If you have the car – you have the mold. Pulling off a mold from a nicely preserved or restored fiberglass car may be expensive, but not impossible. Voila! You are in business. But remember that often-used phrase that I’ve heard from folks who worked in the fiberglass industry in the ‘50s. It went something like this:
“Lose your ass in fiberglass….”
So what does this discussion have to do with Byers, Kellison, and Fiberglass Trends – all body manufacturers of the ‘50s, ‘60s, and beyond?
Everything. Let’s discuss.
In Search of the Last Byers SR-100 and CR-90
In all of the literature we’ve collected, the latest date of anything “car-related” from Jim Byers is February 1963. This was a transition time for Jim Byers and he was moving more and more into “V-Drive” fiberglass boats – many of which still exist today.
See the ad for “Byers Boats” below.
But was this the last year (1963) that Jim Byers sold car bodies?
The earliest date we have so far where Kellison was offering Byers SR-100 bodies came from the story on the Cal Johnson Byers SR-100 race car. Cal bought an SR-100 body from Kellison in 1965 (click here to review the story of Cal Johnson and his Byers SR100). But was this first year Kellison offered the body?
So far, we at Forgotten Fiberglass have established that around 1964 Kellison started offering the SR-100. And until recently, the only car that ever showed up on Kellison literature was the SR-100. The Byers CR-90 was not to be found in Kellison sales flyers or catalogs – until our recent find.
In the undated Kellison sales flyer shown below, Jim Kellison is offering both the SR-100 and the CR-90. Did he purchase the molds from Jim Byers or was this a lease agreement? The answer to that question is unknown at this time, but one thing is confirmed – we’ve never found the Byers SR-100 body or CR-90 body offered by both Byers and Kellison concurrently.
It’s most likely that after 9 years (the Byers SR-100 was introduced in ’55) that Jim Byers sold the molds to Jim Kellison in ’64 or early ’65.
Let’s take a look at the Kellison Sales Flyer for both these cars
Kellison Sales Flyer for SR-100 and CR-90 (Undated)
Thoughts on the Kellison Sales Flyer:
The content of the Kellison sales flyer comes exactly from Jim Byers brochures – without change. No doubt if the cars were an unauthorized reproduction, they would not use the same Byers literature and name – something would have been changed. This points in the direction of the existence of a sale or lease agreement between Jim Byers and Jim Kellison.
But something new appears in the Kellison sales flyer. Two pictures of a car appear – both of which are shown below. One of the pictures shows one SR-100 body and two CR-90 bodies in the background. These were probably taken by Jim Byers at his shop given that the rest of the Kellison Sales Flyer is from Byers original material, too.
Here are the photos shown in the sales flyer:
So why did I bring up Fiberglass Trends as part of this story? More about the relationship between Fiberglass Trends and Jim Byers in a future story here at Forgotten Fiberglass.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures
I just happened to see this article and saw Jim Byers name. I bought one of his 17 ft. flatbottoms, a 1962, in 1970, and still own to this day. I live in Parker AZ on the Colorado River.
The envelope and brochure I have from ’63 shows his el Segundo address and is postmarked from el Segundo. The building are still there – you’re right. I was there a few years ago. His original building are still there too, and the folks that own it now bought it directly from Jim Byers. Great memories!
The CA black plate dates the photo to at least 1963. Was Byers still in El Segundo, or had they moved to Inglewood by then? In Google Street View, the building looks more like 607 E. El Segundo Blvd, El Segundo than 7304 La Cienega, Inglewood, but either building is likely to have been modified.