Robert B. McClean, one of 13 children, was born on March 17, 1923, in Wilton, Iowa. McClean enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps during World War II at the age of 19. He served in the 4th Division on Saipan and was on Iwo Jima when the American flag was raised during that iconic moment in history.
The Antique Motorcycle Club of America, Inc. (AMCA) was founded in 1954 by a small group of enthusiastic antique motorcycle owners. Collecting and restoring vintage motorcycles was a favorite pastime for McClean. When he joined the Chief Blackhawk Chapter in Davenport, Iowa, in 1970, he fulfilled his passion for two-wheeled machines.
McClean had a strong devotion to antique motorcycles. He was a loyal enthusiast who enjoyed riding. He rode motorcycles at road runs in Europe, South Africa and nearly all of the earlier AMCA “D-J” runs, as well as the Irish National Rally. Bob McClean stressed the importance of involvement both in the sport and with the people who enjoy it so much.
McClean’s first AMCA national board meeting was on July 11, 1976. He was elected treasurer on Nov. 6, 1976,, vice president on Nov. 7, 1981 and served as president from late 1983 until Dec. 31, 2002. From 1986-1990, he also assumed the duties of interim editor of the The Antique Motorcycle magazine.
McClean collected a wide range of antique motorcycles, many of which were extremely rare examples, including an early Hawthorne, a 1930 Velocette racer, 1917 Triumph belt drive, 1930 Matchless Silver Hawk, 1919 Reading standard with side car, 1918 Harley-Davidson with side car, 1913 Indian, 1925 Excelsior Super X, 1913 Schickel and his favorite road run machine “Old Blue,” a 1934 VLD Harley-Davidson.
On Sept. 1, 1990, McClean received the AMCA National Recognition Award in recognition of his dedicated service and outstanding contributions while serving as national treasurer, vice president, magazine editor and president of the AMCA.
On July 8, 2000, McClean officially opened the AMCA’s R. B. McClean Gallery at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington, Ohio, donating his 1911 Excelsior Single and 1922 Harley-Davidson Sport Model for the display. McClean was also a 10-year board of trustee member for the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation in Pickerington, Ohio.
In the spring of 1997, the Guggenheim Museum presented “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibition, which set attendance records in New York City. This exhibition re-opened in Chicago Nov. 7, 1998, through March 21, 1999, and later in Bilbao, Spain. McClean donated his 1977 Harley-Davidson XLCR for the Guggenheim exhibitions in Chicago, Bilbao and Las Vegas, Nev.
McClean was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002. He passed away on June 20, 2008.