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Bob Keyes

I am saddened to hear the news that Bob Keyes passed away on 24th July 2006. With 30 years of experience in the aerospace and defence business, Bob has been well known for his 3-wheelers since creating his first Trivette in 1974.

Although Bob and I emailed, sadly I never got to meet him. The once chance I did was when my girlfriend took me on a surprise holiday to New York for my 40th birthday. Excited, I emailed Bob hoping that we might be able to meet up over there but sadly he had changed email addresses due to junk mail and so only found my email by chance a few weeks after my visit. I did get to meet Bob’s son a few years ago though when he was visiting the UK and we enjoyed a couple of beers in a pub in Stratford-upon-Avon,

The one thing that Bob created that always struck me with awe was his 220 bhp 3-wheeled Vigillante. Here was a vehicle that banished any notion what so ever that 3-wheelers were slow and indeed he described it as “The Worlds Quickest Street-Legal Exotic”. With a 0 - 60 mph time of just 3 seconds and a top speed of over 200 mph, the Vigillante would eat a McLaren F1 for breakfast.

Talking of breakfast, one rainy day a couple of years ago I was sitting in the dining room eating my cereals and pondering whether to go down town or not when there was a knock at the door. It was the postman with a parcel from the USA. I opened it to discover Bob had sent me a video cassette full of film footage of the Vigillante and so immediately decided town could wait. I popped it into the cassette player, made another cup of tea and jumped on to the settee to watch the cassette. The Vigillante looks superb in photos but to hear that huge V8 engine burble and see it in motion, even on a video cassette, really was a delight.

Bob was one of life’s truly unique characters and my deepest sympathies go out to his family as I am sure he will be greatly missed.

Elvis Payne.

August 2006.


Bob Keyes and his Vigillante. (Photo taken from and copyright of BBC Top Gear magazine. December 1998).


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