Bob McKee began his racing career by building stock cars for Tiny Lund and being Dick Rathmann's crew chief for Indy car competition. By the early to mid-1960's, he was building racers under his own surname. His first creation was the Chevette which was comprised of many General Motors components, mainly the Chevelle and Corvette. This was actually how the name was conceived, by forming parts of 'Chevelle' with 'Corvette'. The name was not trademarked by McKee and later used by Chevrolet.
The first creation, the MKI, was a mid-engined special with a tubular space frame. It was constructed for an Illinois Chevrolet dealer named Dick Doane who intended to use the racer in amateur racing competition. Power came from a 363 cubic-inch fuel injected Chevrolet V8 engine that produced over 450 horsepower. 11.5-inch Girling disc brakes were used to keep the vehicle in the drivers control. In an effort to keep the weight of the vehicle at a minimum, aluminum was used for the body.
The MKI was followed by iterations of the concept, named MKII, MKIII, and so forth. The first five cars were individual cars bearing different 'MK' designations. The MK VI, however, was an attempt at streamlining production and standardizing the process in order to ease production and increase units produced. There were a total of three examples of the MK VI produced.
For the 1967 season, McKee introduced the MK VII. In similar fashion to the MK VI, they were given fiberglass rounded bodies. The use of fiberglass for the MK VI had decreased the vehicles weight in comparison to the previous McKee MK vehicles. Though the MK VII brought with it new and improved mechanical components, though it was not as advanced as the McLaren's or the Lola's. A variety of V8 engines were used to power the MK VII's, including units from Chevrolet and Oldsmobile. One of the Oldsmobile engines was even fitted with a turbocharger. A four-speed manual gearbox sent the power to the rear wheels. Ford Mustang disc brakes could be found on all four corners providing the stopping power. Drivers such as Charlie Hayes and Joe Leonard drove the MK VII's during the 1967 through 1969 season. One MK VII made a starring role in the movie 'Winning' where it was piloted by Paul Newman. The movie is about an aspiring driver who dreams of competing and winning at one of the biggest racing venue's in the world - the Indianapolis 500.
In total, there were two or three examples of the MK VII created. The first was built for Bob Nagel; it was later rebuilt for Formula A competition by Bob Stanford. Then it was converted back to Can-Am specifications and can currently be seen racing in historic racing competition. The second car was built for Skip Hudson as a works entry. It was later sold to Ralph Slayer and piloted by Charlie Hayes. The car was later converted into a wedge-shaped design and dubbed, the MK 10. Both cars are still in existence, or so it is believed. The wedge-shaped car is rarely seen in public.
Formula 5000 McKee constructed the MK8, MK11, and MK12 for the Formula 5000 series. The MK VIII's were driven during the 1968 F5000 Championship with drivers such as Max Kronn and Kurt Reinold in the driver's seat. In total, there were three constructed. They were given a space-frame chassis with alloy frame tubes. A Chevrolet 5-liter V8 engine was mated to a Hewland LG600 gearbox. The body was fiberglass and disc brakes could be found on all four corners.
One example of the MK11 was constructed in 1969. It too was powered by a Chevy 5-liter V8 and matted to a Hewland LG600 gearbox. It was driven by Hamilton Vose and constructed for SCCA and USAC racing. Instead of a space frame chassis that had been used in the MK8, it was given a monocoque chassis.
The final iteration was the MK12 which was similar to the MK8, having been built on a space frame chassis. There were only three constructed. Chuck Trowbridge and Dick DeJarld drove the cars in 1969. Kurt Reinold drove an MK12 in 1970 and was able to manage a seventh place finish at Elkhart Lake.
After 1970, McKee moved on from building racing cars to pursue other endeavors that were more profitable.
This Car This vehicle shown is a McKee MK12 Armco Cro-Sal Can-Am Racer. It is the only example created and was constructed for the Group 7, CanAm Series. The chassis is constructed of a lightweight stainless steel and fitted with a fiberglass body with removable nose and tail. The car rides on a 97-inch wheelbase and has an independent suspension with A-arms in both the front and rear. It is powered by an Oldsmobile 455 cubic-inch engine that was modified by Cro-Sal Engineers. With the help of dual turbochargers, it is capable of producing 700 horsepower. It is a unique vehicle with four-wheel drive system and a two-speed Turbo-Hydramatic gearbox. It was originally driven by Joe Leonard of the Chicago area. It is currently owned and driven by Albert Way. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
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