Classic 1928 Whippet Pays Tribute to the Early Days of McKee Foods
December 22, 2016
McKee Foods is best known for its Little Debbie snack cakes, and it's truly a pleasure to share real estate here in the Tennessee Valley with such an excellent company. They are located just up the road from us in Collegedale, Tennessee, and we recently struck a deal with them to display a very special car in our museum. It is a 1928 Whippet 6, a low-priced sedan that was manufactured by Willys-Overland for only a few years. Although it is quite rare to see a Whippet these days, they were not all that desirable in comparison to the Ford Model A of the same era. McKee Foods founder, O.D. McKee bought a 1928 Whippet sedan in 1931 to serve as a delivery vehicle for his bakery. He removed the rear seat and sold 5-cent snack cakes out of the back of the sedan. Fast forward nearly 30 years and McKee Foods is approaching its major turning point, when O.D. McKee's son, Ellsworth, created the "family pack" of Little Debbie snack cakes. As the company continued to succeed and grow, O.D. wanted to pay tribute to those early days, so he purchased this 1928 Whippet from a fellow in Fort Worth, Texas in 1977. To tie all this together, O.D. McKee sought advice on restoring this antique automobile, so he consulted local expert, Harold Coker, who is also the founder of our company. Mr. Coker pointed him to Dude Layne in Dunlap, Tennessee. And if that name sounds familiar, he's the same "Dude" who restores Corky's motorcycles. Widely known Chattanooga engine builder, R.G. Netherly rebuilt the six-cylinder engine, while local upholsterer, Don Angland refurbished the interior. Of course, the car needed new tires, so he bought them from his friend Harold Coker at Coker Tire and it currently rolls on a set of Firestone 475/500-19 whitewall tires. And now, that very car is stationed in the Coker Tire Museum, along with 100 other collector vehicles, which includes more than 40 beautifully restored motorcycles. Inside the car, you'll find Little Debbie snack cake boxes, and we also have signage displayed with the car to pay tribute to its past. And though it isn't the original car that O.D. McKee used for deliveries in the 1930's, it's a great way to remember the earliest beginnings of this Chattanooga-area business.