1971 Husqvarna is one of the King of Cool’s most loved bikes and could fetch £150k at auction
by Rob Hull from https://www.thisismoney.co.uk
- The 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross is one of around 200 bikes owned by the actor who often entered races
- It is said to be in ‘last ridden by McQueen’ condition and ‘not started’ since his ownership
- It is a later version of the bike the King of Cool rode in On Any Sunday – that one sold in 2018 for $230k
- Bonhams says it is ‘the best known of all McQueen’s Huskys by virtue of a known provenance and documents’
- Auction house will offer it to the highest bidder at its sale in California on Friday – estimate is $130k-$180k
A motorcycle belonging to the King of Cool, Steve McQueen, will go under the hammer on Friday and could sell for £150,000.
The 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross is said to be one of the actor’s favourite bikes in an extensive collection, and it hasn’t been modified since he last rode it.
The off-road motorbike will be offered to the highest bidder on Friday at the Bonhams Quail Lodge auction held during Monterey Car Week in California.
One of the most iconic scenes from a McQueen film was the Great Escape motorcycle jump, where his character Captain Virgil Hilts leaps over a barbed wire fence in his dramatic escape from the Nazi prisoner of war camp in the legendary WW2 film.
The six-foot jump over the fencing wasn’t performed by the King of Cool himself in the 1963 hit – it was stunt man and frequent McQueen body double, Bud Ekins – as the actor later revealed his inexperienced riding skills meant he would not have been able to complete the stunt at the time of shooting.
However, McQueen’s close friendship with Bud and his brother Dave Ekins, and his passion for motorcycles, saw the silver screen star become an accomplished off-road racer.
In interviews years after The Great Escape, he stated he would have then been competent to complete the famous jump scene.
His love of two wheels also partly inspired the 1971 motorcycle racing documentary film On Any Sunday, in which the Indiana-born actor features riding a similar Husqvarna off-roader – that one sold in October 2018, also at a Bonhams auction, for $230,500.
At one point in his life, McQueen reportedly owned up to 200 motorcycles. Among them was the 1971 model up for grabs this week. It was produced by the Swedish brand that was dominating the motocross world during the generation (pictured, McQueen riding a similar bike in 1970)
It’s one of many the King of Cool had, but this is claimed to be his favourite.
And, if the seller is to be believed, it has not been ridden since it was in the hands of the silver screen icon.
The 400 Cross combined fearsome power and superb handling thanks to its lightweight frame and single-cylinder 400cc engine, but was also renowned for being difficult to ride.
It was produced in a period before plastics were used in motorcycle manufacturing, meaning it has a sculpted aluminium fuel tank with a polished section to help reduce marring where the rider meets the bike.
While McQueen had various examples that were used as ‘parts bikes’ for spares, this wasn’t the case with frame number MI3845 being sold this week.
Bonhams says it is ‘perhaps the best known of all McQueen’s Huskys by virtue of a known provenance and documentation from the time it was acquired by the star and remaining in his possession as one of his go-to bikes for the rest of his life’.
It was sold as lot 664 at the Steve McQueen Estate Auction at Imperial Palace in November 1984, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has since passed through three subsequent owners before being acquired by the vendor 11 years ago.
The certificate of authenticity, plus the bill of sale issued to the buyer at the 1984 Estate Auction, and the original registration document in the name Solar Productions accompany the lot. To complete the paperwork file, the original 1984 auction lot tag also accompanies the machine when it goes to the block on Friday.
The bike is described by the seller as being in ‘last ridden by McQueen’ condition, and ‘not started’, with all the dents and scratches from the King of Cool’s hard riding.
It even retains all of the McQueen-implemented modifications, which includes a leather gear shift protector and a spare spark plug he duct-taped to the frame in case it was needed while out riding.
The bike is expected to attract a winning bid in the region of $130,000 (£107,500) to $180,000 (£149,000) when the hammer drops at the end of the week, according to Bonhams’ estimation.
‘The preservation of MI3845 is a credit to the discerning owners post McQueen who have preserved MI3845 in its original McQueen owned state,’ the auction house said.
‘While other McQueen motorcycles have come to light in recent times, there can be no doubt as to the history and originality of this machine.
‘It is a ‘blue chip’ piece of McQueen memorabilia, if you like, suitable for shows, demos – after some sympathetic recommissioning – or museum display use, using the legend ‘as last ridden by the late and utterly charismatic Steve McQueen’ as a fitting epitaph.’
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