The History of the Kelley Blue Book is a classic story epitomizing the American Dream. Les Kelley founded the Kelley Kar Company which eventually became the world’s largest car dealership and Ford Dealer by the 1950s. The Kelley Blue Book website proudly states that Les began his business with just $450 and 3 Model T Fords. Although Kelley’s business was founded in California, he originally hailed from Arkansas. Like many successful automotive businesses, Les’ younger brother Buster was also heavily involved, becoming his first employee at the age of 13 and was running the repair shop by the age of 18. Buster’s son Bob followed his father in the business as well, becoming a lot boy. The Kelley family remained in the business until 2000, when Bob and Mike Kelley both retired.
The Kelley Blue Book really began when Les pretty much invented the concept of a standardized book of car values in 1926, when he published his first guide. In spite of all this success, in the late 1950s, Les decided to sell the dealerships and move full-time into publishing and growing his now famous Blue Book even further. Kelley L Ross, Les' nephew edited the Blue Book until his death in 1980. Dr Kelley L Ross Jr, his son, notes that his cousins remain in the Blue Book business at the webpage http://www.friesian.com/ross/ where pictured is the original Kelley Kar Company and a picture of Dr Kelley Jr.