History

For over 90 years, consumers and the auto industry have trusted Kelley Blue Book for legendary valuations and accurate information. Today, the history of innovation continues!
1918

Les Kelley starts Kelley Kar Company in Los Angeles with three Model Ts. His "Selected Blue Seal Automobiles" reflect the earliest version of the Kelley Blue Book seal.

Les Kelley

1920s

During a time when all cars were black, Les and his brother Buster innovate by painting them pink. Sales soar.

Les Kelley begins circulating a list of cars he wants to buy and what he's willing to pay.

The Blue Book was first published in 1926.

Pink Cars

The Blue Book was first published in 1926.

First Blue Book

1930s

Buster Kelley becomes GM of the dealership and publisher of the Blue Book. Every day, the line of cars waiting to be appraised winds around the block.

As Blue Book subscriptions soar, Kelley Kar Company moves to the corner of Figueroa and Pico in Los Angeles and becomes the largest used car dealership in the world.

The Kelleys open their own insurance company and auto club, and sell both with the cars.

Kelley Kar at Figueroa and Pico

1940s - 1950s

Cars are bought in the East and shipped in freight cars. The Kelley Car Company offers the "G.I. Credit Plan," featuring no money down and five-year credit terms.

During WWII, the government uses Blue Book Values to set used car price ceilings.

Advertising innovations include full-page newspaper ads and television spots to describe cars on the lot.

Les Kelley Ford

Advertising innovations include full-page newspaper ads and television spots to describe cars on the lot.


1960s - 1970s

Now the largest Ford and used car dealership in the world, Kelley Kar Company is sold to devote full time to Kelley Blue Book. It becomes the first publication to use mileage to determine a car's value.

A New Car Price is added to the list of publications.

Kelley Blue Book develops guides for everything from travel trailers to campers to ATVs to snowmobiles to motorcycles and manufactured housing.

New Car Price Manual

A New Car Price is added to the list of publications.

Kelley Blue Book develops guides for everything from travel trailers to campers to ATVs to snowmobiles to motorcycles and manufactured housing.


1980s - 1990s

Kelley Blue Book goes digital, with vehicle values software for dealers, financial institutions, and insurance companies.

Mike Kelley becomes GM of Kelley Blue Book. His background in computer science gives the company a focus on technology.

The first Consumer Edition of the Blue Book is published and becomes the best-selling automotive book.

KBB.com launches in 1995 and within two years becomes the most visited automotive site on the Internet.

New car reviews, links to manufacturers' sites and title history reports are added to KBB.com.

Karpower Blue Book PC Software

Mike Kelley becomes GM of Kelley Blue Book. His background in computer science gives the company a focus on technology.

The first Consumer Edition of the Blue Book is published and becomes the best-selling automotive book.

Kelley Blue Book Consumer Edition

KBB.com launches in 1995 and within two years becomes the most visited automotive site on the Internet.

New car reviews, links to manufacturers' sites and title history reports are added to KBB.com.

First KBB.com Site

2000s

KBB.com introduces new car previews, side-by-side comparisons, Blue Book Classifieds, and editors' market commentary.

New Car Blue Book Value shows what consumers are actually paying for new cars. KBB.com visitation exceeds 10 million per month.

Awards

Introduction of the Best Resale Value Awards paves the way for more annual award programs.

KBB.com adds consumer ratings, resale values, video reviews, 360° views and more, with 160 million annual visitors.

KBB.com Homepage

Brand Image Awards are given to automakers with outstanding brand attributes that truly capture the enthusiasm of new car shoppers.

Kelley Blue Book begins updating its values weekly instead of monthly.


2010 - Present

AutoTrader.com acquires Kelley Blue Book, combining two of the strongest brands in the auto industry.

Mobile apps for iPhone, Windows and Android are introduced.

KBB.com Homepage

The introduction of Fair Purchase Price helps consumers make smart car-buying decisions by providing the average transaction price based on region.

KBB.com Homepage

KBB.com named Online Shopping Brand of the Year by Harris Interactive.

The 5-Year Cost to Own Award honors the top brands and models with the lowest projected costs over the initial five-year ownership period.

Formation of Cox Automotive brings over 20 brands together to provide end-to-end digital marketing, wholesale and commerce solutions.

KBB.com Homepage Learn more about KBB.com
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