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DKM, Mecham Racing, MSE, and Dennis Mecham

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DKM, Mecham Racing, MSE, and Dennis Mecham

Post by Brother Al on Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:25 am


DKM, Mecham Racing, and MSE

Dennis and Kyle Mecham were sons of Evan Mecham, who had served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot from January 1943 to December 1945. On March 7, 1945, while flying as an escort for a photo reconnaissance mission, his P-51D Mustang was shot down, he sustained injuries attempting to avoid capture, and became a POW for 22 days, until the camp was captured by Allied forces. For his service, he received the Air Medal & a Purple Heart. He returned to the States and in 1950, he opened Mecham Pontiac in Ajo, Arizona, then moved to Glendale, Arizona where he purchased a another Pontiac Dealership with the motto: "If You Can't Deal With Mecham, You Just Can't Deal." He also was heavily involved in politics (Republican), and became governor of Arizona in 1987, he also spearheaded the effort to raise the speed limit on rural highways from 55 mph to 65 mph, as well as being involved in racing for quite some time.

Having a father such as this, Dennis and Kyle were introduced to honor, business savvy, muscle cars, and Pontiac racing efforts early on in their childhood. Fostering their own needs for speed and entrepreneurship, they created a small skunkworks within their father's dealership garage. In 1977, they released a "Grand Touring" Trans Am package, aptly named for the era, the "Macho T/A". They sold a number of them out the side door of their old man's dealership, in a manner similar to the "Good Ole Days" of Royal Pontiac, Yenko Chevrolet, Nickey Chevrolet, and Baldwin-Motion Performance. The following year, they founded DKM Design, Performance, Inc., which would become an icon in an era of strict smog control and pathetic Detroit offerings claimed as "Performance Cars". Their offerings were also made available through a handful of other Pontiac Dealers, producing over 200 Macho T/A's that year. In 1979, they pushed out another 200+ Macho T/A's and released a new offering: the "Macho Z", based on the Z28 350 pkg. Unfortunately, they didn't sell very well due to the overwhelming popularity of the Trans Am, making them quite rare. With the loss of the Pontiac 400 for the 1980 Trans Am in mid 1979, DKM turned to the new Turbo 301 and tweaked the T/A as best they could, creating a performance package around it, but produced very few due to limitations in performance capabilities and the onset of a recession.

During the subsequent years after his Macho T/A's, Dennis Mecham began to race cars heavily in the SCCA Trans Am Series Racing under his Mecham Racing banner.. Seeing that the release of the all-new 1982 Firebird was coming soon, he once again turned to his Father's Pontiac dealership and his connections within Pontiac. The All-new 1982 Firebird offered him an interesting opportunity to obtain both some Corporate assistance and a chance to capitalize on the pent up desires that consumers had for the new Firebird. His idea was to raise capital for his racing efforts by offering a fresh, street-legal GT package for the new Trans Am and thus the "MSE" aka "Motor Sports Edition Trans Am" came to be. Selling them through a only a handful of select Pontiac dealerships, once ordered, Pontiac shipped accordingly optioned, WS6 equipped Trans Ams to the Mecham Pontiac Delership in Glendale, Arizona, where Mecham customized them to the buyer's order. Simultaneously, Mecham Racing entered race-ready MSE Trans Am's in the namesake SCCA Trans Am Racing Series, Elliot Forbes-Robinson EFR and the chassis was built by renouned chassis builder Huffaker Engineering. The Street versions of the MSE were sold primarily to fund Mecham Racing's SCCA effort. And in the first year of racing, the Mecham Racing MSE Trans Am won the championship series!! Ironic that Pontiac, and the Trans Am car, had never won the series, even though the car was names after the race.

The '82 models came two-tone Red/Charcoal or White/ Charcoal paint scheme that was seperated by a wide White & Blue (on Red) or Red & Blue (on White) pinstripe, set just above the bottom of the doors. A large Silver "MSE " medallion with "Motor Sports Edition", underlined by a Red, White, and Blue stripe decal, all placed on the exterior sail panels where the stock "Screaming Eagle" was normally placed. Each car was production sequence-numbered and external numbering was added to the passenger-side of the rear spoiler, on the underside upward curving face and to the front nosecone. A large "MSE" decal was placed proudly on the passender-side of the rear bumper cover. A unique "Whale Tail" fiberglass rear spoiler replaced the stock "Gull Wing" spoiler and it was designed specifically for downforce on the racetrack. Reportedly, it placed 100 lb's of downforce onto each rear tire. Up front, Mecham added a fiberglass front spoiler to increase the aerodynamics of Pontiac's already slippery, record-setting 3rd Gen T/A. Early in production, the Charcoal cloth Recaro seats which were found only in the Recaro Edition Trans Am S/E, also became available in the MSE as an $800+ option. Each car was numbered, a special numbered plaque was attached by Torx screws onto the center console. It denoted the "MR" logo in large script on the Driver's side of the plaque, and on the left side "PRODUCED IN THE U.S.A.", followed with "BY MECHAM RACING" below it and below them was the cars two-digit model year and a four digit sequence number. (ex "82-0000"). A Racing-spec'd, aluminum 4 spoke steering wheel, clad with a leather grip and was topped with a "MSE" horn cap.

The '83, '84, and '85 models were painted similar to the 1984 15th Anniversary Trans Am with a two tone paint scheme split at the bodyline or middle of the doors. MSEs got a full width front spoiler, a low resistance "aerotail" rear spoiler, and emblems proclaiming it a Mecham Racing Machine. On the sail panels behind the doors are either MSE emblems or a big olive branch-wreathed "MR" with "Mecham Racing", "USA", and "SCCA Champions" underneath. There may be additional numbers/emblems on the drivers side headlight door, fenders, rear spoiler, or rear bumper depending on the year. MSEs also got special MR centercaps and a MR hood emblem. 500 were built in '82, 150 in '83, 50 in '84, and only a few in '85. The car came as seen below in these pictures, is one of the street cars Mecham racing sold through Pontiac Dealers. Accourding to Mecham Racing, only 500 1982 MSE Trans Am were built. Of those, less then 10 were red in color. The remaining cars were all white in color, matching the actual race car. In speaking with other MSE owners, and doing some research, it appears that at best, around 300 street versions were actually build. It included the usual MSE options, including the painted louvers seen here on it. I was there when it arrived on the delivery truck, along with a second red MSE. This one was number 48. I picked this one because of the louvers. Next the other one, this was was so much better. The MSE wreath on the sail panel was sent to me after the 1982 SCCA Trans Am race series was over, and Mecham Racing had won. Each car has a serial plaque on the inside, and this one was listed as number 48.

Rear air dam spoiler, that actually put pressure on rear tires at speeds over 100 mph.
Special MSE rims, with Firestone tires, and MSE center caps.
MSE bading on front light door, hood, sail panels, rear bumper, and interior.
Front air dam.
Mecham Racing windshield tint.
Black Motor Sports Edition grafics on side door bottoms.
Koni shocks, and special suspension including bushings.
Recaro seats
MSE Steering Wheel
MSE sound system

For 1983, more color options were available, and now included a two tone paing sceme.

The stock 305 ci engine got a recurved distributor, advanced timing, and a rebuilt performance carb all good for about 25 HP. All cars came with a "Git Kit" in the rear hatch area which included a 600 Holley carb, aluminum intake manifold, Mallory distributor, Coil spark plug wires, Champion spark plugs, low restriction air cleaner, Tri-Y headers, and Y-pipe. Some cars were came fitted with a non-EGR Edelbrock intake manifold, Tri-Y headers, Doug Nash 5-speed, and a rebuilt Q-Jet or Holley 600 carb. Some even received an entire engine transplant that included a 440 horsepower 406 ci Chevy small block with various available performance combos, including a twin turbo for export use.

All MSEs came with the WS6 performance package from the factory, but a "Tallon Suspension" was optional with stiffer springs, urethane sway bar bushings, additional front cross member (for-runner of the GM "Wonderbar"), Koni adjustable shocks, rear droop limiter straps, Firestone tires on Modern Wheel 15" x 7" alloys or "Diamond-spoke" alloy rims. This suspension was capable of .90 to .95g on the skidpad.

The interior was primarily as Pontiac intended, but it was dressed up with a "Duesenberg-like" leather-wrapped steering wheel (with MR insert), optional Motorola sound system, optional 160+ MPH speedometer, optional 8000+ RPM tach (all guages were "Certified" with MR Logos), Stock Deluxe Interior seats were standard, Lear Siegler seats were a stock optional upgrade, or one could have Recaro seats installed as a VERY expensive option, and all MSE Trans Ams included a glove pouch emblem and numbered console plaque.

One of a few 1983 Daytona 500 pace car's converted to MSE specs.

1984 Y84 Trans Am S/E "Recaro Edition" L69 H.O., T-5, 3:73, G80, 54K orig miles
Last of the RPO Y84 Black and Gold Trans Am S/E's"
May the Tin Indian and JZD Rest in Peace
Prius, Proof that people will buy Anything, (Baaaa Baaa)
All the Answers to our Problems can be found in the Boneyard!
God Bless America & those who serve & have served our Country!
Brother Al

Posts : 132
Join date : 2010-10-01
Age : 42
Location : Westfield, Ma

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