McKinley spent much of his time in the Illinois area just east of St. Louis. He was a stalwart in the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, AACA, the Horseless Carriage Club of America, the HCC of Missouri, Inc., and several other national and regional clubs. He was a fixture at major meets such as the AACA regional Fall Meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
He knew the hobby from the inside since he had been a Chevrolet dealer in O'Fallon, Illinois. For a time he owned two Tuckers (#36 and #51). The maroon #36 was owned by McKinley for a quarter century before going to the Blackhawk Collection in 1986. Several brass-era cars and stately classics passed through his hands over the years. By his own admission, he financially presided from 1964 to 1966 over the business venture envisioned by Glenn Pray that resulted in the “8/10” Cord replicars. McKinley's son Steven says his father had a dream to recreate the stylish design and sleek look of the first front wheel drive automobile.
The elder McKinley also enjoyed placing several of his vintage cars in local museums and exhibited them upon invitation by HCCM event coordinators setting up educational displays at annual St. Louis Auto Shows in downtown St. Louis. McKinley also sold and traded vintage cars with the likes of tire magnate Harold Coker and Oklahoman Don C. Boulton. McKinley's three-wheel Knox (circa 1899) went to Boulton in the early 1970s and, upon Boulton's passing, found a new owner at Bonhams Amelia Island Auction in March of 2019. McKinley's 1903 Columbus Electric that later was owned by Coker sold at RM Auction at Hershey in October 2015. Both cars sold in the six-figure range at those auctions. Pictures of cars formerly owned by McKinley have appeared in various articles and books. Chevrolet historian and close friend M.G. “Pinky” Randall of Houghton Lake, Michigan, recalls McKinley as “a man honest from the word go and as good a friend of the hobby as you could ever find.”
McKinley's long-time friends recall his pleasant and relaxed approach to life, including the old car hobby. Over many years he was seen annually at the Hershey Fall meet in his sport coat and tie, a trademark feature of the man. In the 1970s he participated in cross-continent tours in a 1913 Moyer seven-passenger touring, which he told this writer was a magnificently reliable car he highly favored.
McKinley's wife Gloria preceded him. He is survived by son Steven and his family and by daughter Beverly. Funeral arrangements were made by Kurrus Funeral Home in Belleville, Illinois.
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