The Folsom Years

Struggle and Recognition

With would become a lifelong preference for being his own boss, Jim decided to quit his job at Travis Air Force Base and open his own shop again. He found a suitable and inexpensive location at 905 Sutter Street in the small town of Folsom, California. Once again the family moved, this time to Folsom. It was in Folsom in 1958, that a third son, Christopher was born and two years later a forth, James Morris Kellison in 1959. In those times Folsom was a small town near Sacramento that sat adjacent to the American River and was steeped in history from the gold rush era. Sutter Street was the old main street from whence the town began and still has many of the old buildings dating from the gold rush. 905 Sutter Street was located at the very end of the street in a single row of tin covered buildings.

The J4, as it appeared in 1959, gave Jim his first taste of national recognition.

Jim purchased a tow truck and did body and fender work as a way to make ends meet in the new Sutter street location. Any free time was used to pursue his growing passion, the design and building of his own cars. Jim continued to develop new car designs and it was in the Sutter Street location that he began to make molds and work in fiberglass as the means to create car bodies based on his designs. This is the location that saw the birth of his J car series.

905 Sutter street, the shop that saw the birth of the J Car series and would also give its name to the 905 – the J4.

The J car series brought Jim his first taste of national exposure. He advertised his cars in many of the country’s leading hot rod magazines and received media coverage for the unique designs. Embarking on this new direction and expansion was not easy. Jim was still relatively young, in his early to mid twenties. There were many ups and downs, set backs and money problems to contented with. He persevered however and eventually outgrew the Sutter Street location. This is what prompted the move to Lincoln, California in 1964.

Jim with his four boys, David, Steven, Chris and Jimmy circa 1962.


Motor Trend cover from June,1960 with the 905-J4 on the cover.

Family Sportscar
Kellison Drawings