Malcolm McKellar --- August 27, 1920 - April 9, 2011

Malcolm "Mac" McKellar

Times Nominated: 1
Year Inducted: 2018
Nominated Year(s): 2018
Category: Pontiac Ambassador

To many in the automotive world, Malcolm R. “Mac” McKellar stands out as one of Detroit’s great engineering minds, someone who could seamlessly bridge the gap between engine design theory and the realities of production.

Yet, he did so in a thoughtfully quiet fashion to avoid flash and hype. While others in the Motor City proclaimed and exaggerated their accomplishments with aplomb of a PR specialist, McKellar went about his business with little fanfare and let the engines do the talking.


And “talk” they did. With the arrival of the Pontiac OHV V-8 in 1955, Pontiac finally had a powerplant that would rid the Division of its stodgy image, propelling into the youth market with such landmark designs as the fuel-injected 1957 Bonneville, the 1959 Catalina, the 1963 Grand Prix and of course, the legendary 1964 GTO.

McKellar was born on August 27th, 1920, in Pontiac, Michigan, the younger of two children, his sister was six years his senior. He graduated from Pontiac high school in 1937. From there, he got his start at Pontiac in 1937, as a co-op student at General Motors Institute.

When the call for more power came from management, it was Mac McKellar whose duty it was to wring more power out of the Pontiac V-8. His Super Duty race engines and Ram Air and HO street engines would become Pontiac’s calling cards in an era when 0-60 and quarter-mile times were everything. In fact, a line of Pontiac factory camshafts bear his name, an honor shared at GM with only the legendary Chevrolet engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov.

There was a lot more to Mac than just designing high-performance V-8 engines. During the late 1950s, the need for an economical to produce 4-cylinder for the upcoming Tempest line had his team designing an innovative slant-4 based on the 389 Pontiac V-8. In the early 1960s, they designed the overhead cam Pontiac 6-cylinder, which was used in the Tempest and Firebird lines.

In his later years, he was involved with more modern projects the design and building of such powerplants as the Sunbird 4-cylinder, which would later become a performance engine in its own right, with the addition of a turbocharger. Amazingly, a version of that engine is still in production as a 1.6-liter industrial engine. McKellar was a veteran engineer at this point, but one who could adapt to the times and the assignments.

McKellar was a frequent guest at many Pontiac events around the country and remained active in the Pontiac hobby for the rest of his life. He passed away on April 9, 2011 at the age of 90.

Though he is not someone who spent time blowing his own horn, Mac McKellar has achieved legendary status among Pontiac fans everywhere with his rare combination of genius and humility.


Our Mission At The PPA

The mission of the Pontiac Preservation Association is to provide a vehicle for all clubs, associations, individual hobbyists, web sites and groups, parts manufacturers, parts businesses, restoration shops, car dealers, event promoters, publishers-everyone associated with the Pontiac automobile to come together for the express purpose of better coordinating all energies and resources to preserve and promote the Pontiac hobby and to improve the Pontiac industry for the betterment of all involved.