To many people, Steve McQueen’s fame was born from that epic 10-minute motorcycle chase in The Great Escape – and with it, generation after generation of motorcycle enthusiasts.
This iconically stylish gentleman’s love for two wheels wasn’t just confined to the four corners of the silver screen – in real life, he was a true aficionado, amassing a motorcycle collection that could easily belong in a museum. Here, we give you the lowdown on one of the rarest bikes he owned: his customised 1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled Frame.
What’s the connection between Steve McQueen and motorcycles?
Outside of international superstardom, McQueen was actually an avid motorcyclist. He raced at almost every event on the circuit, from the tracks of Indianapolis to the Baja 1000, and was even inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame. The King of Cool, as he’s known, definitely lived up to his moniker.
What makes this Steve McQueen bike so special?
Built by Bud Ekins, McQueen’s longstanding friend and stunt double for both The Great Escape and Bullitt, this customised Triumph’s purpose was for pure off-road fun – cow trailing and desert racing, to be exact. Painted by the legendary Von Dutch (also his friend), it’s a true one-off, sporting a 1971 title to Solar Productions, McQueen’s production company, which also bears the star’s signature.
Is there any way you can get your hands on it?
The original version of this article carried an announcement that this iconic Steve McQueen Triumph was up for auction at the famous Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction in January 2016, and that it was expected to fetch between £33,000–£40,000. It eventually sold for over £80,000. Ouch.
So, unless the new owner isn’t happy with it for any reason (we seriously can’t think of any) and decides to resell it, chances are these photos will be the closest any of us will ever get to it. Still, maybe keep an eye on upcoming Bonhams auction listings. It costs nothing to hope and dream, after all.
For more Hollywood two-wheelers, check out our list of the most iconic motorcycles in film.