My September '95 issue of the Shooting Times has an article written by Sheriff Jim Wilson called 'Make Mine a 1911' In that article he said he examined some Kimber samples at the previous SHOT show and put his order in for a production gun to review and possibly buy. So I gather from this article that September of '95 was very close to the actual start date.
This is a quote off the official Kimber website:
"Kimber built a new factory in New York where manufacturing [of pistols and rifles] could be done under one roof and shipped the first Classic Pistol in 1996."
I got my Custom Classic in July of 1996. It was the first one I had ever seen, and back then I was making the rounds of the local gunshops fairly frequently. It's marked "Clakamas, OR" and has a serial number below K001600. I'm not sure what number the serial numbers begin at. Anyone know?