Kelly, a Wisconsin-based industrial designer, had long dreamed of creating his own sports car, and in the early 1960s that’s exactly what he did. He didn’t own a car company, he didn’t pay off someone at Chevrolet. Instead, this everyday guy took his detailed sketches to Italy and enlisted some of the best coachbuilders in the world to bring his design to life.
Carrozzeria Vignale crafted the gorgeous body, an early ‘60s Corvette chassis formed the backbone, and this stunning shape is the end result—the world’s only Kelly Corvette, which went on display at the grand 1961 Paris Salon. These days it’s now in the stewardship of owner John Breslow, and as this great Petrolicious feature shows, it’s enjoying quite the active retirement.
Driving a one-of-one Kelly Corvette may sound like a terrifying prospect, but not to Breslow. In fact, he’s run the Copperstate 1000 rally in the car. He’s also got quite the stable full of other pedigreed motors, including a Tatra T87, Shelby Cobra 289, Jaguar XKSS, and one of only nine Viper-based Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradales, among others. But the Kelly Corvette, that’s just a bit more special than the rest.
“He was really the spirit of the car enthusiast,” says Breslow as he speaks about the man behind the Kelly Corvette. “Here’s a guy who had a normal job, and he went out and he raced cars, he designed cars, he loved cars, he showed his car. He’s what everyone wants to do in this car hobby.”
Internet…save your napkin sketches.