The collectable bike comes from the movie On Any Sunday and goes under the hammer at Bonham's Las Vegas on 6 October.
The 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross was owned and ridden by the actor during his reign as Hollywood’s king of cool. It is both an important piece of Hollywood memorabilia and a rare example of one of the era’s defining motorcycles.
An image of a shirtless McQueen astride the bike and rising phoenix-like into frame against a blue sky appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s August 1971 edition and has become an iconic image of the era. The attached story detailed how McQueen would sometimes race the motorcycle under the pseudonym ‘Harvey Mushman’.
McQueen also rode the ‘Husky’ in Bruce Brown’s 1970 film On Any Sunday. Writing at the time of the film’s release, legendary critic Roger Ebert said the filmmaker, who previously directed Endless Summer offered a glamorous and nostalgic portrait of the world of motorbike racing.
“Brown’s movies are charming, infectious, clean-cut…That is why they are so much fun to see. They come from a world of innocence and simple physical pleasures.”
McQueen’s prized motorbike will go to auction in October
The motorbike is expected to go for around US$75-100,000 when it is auctioned at the Collectors’ Motorcyles at the Barber Vintage Festival in October. The festival takes place in Birmingham, Alabama.
The winner of the auction will also receive some of McQueen’s belongings that were still with the bike, a lucky penny from the year of his son Chad’s birth and his entry form for the 1970 Saddleback 500 Senior Race.
Andy Barrett, Bonhams US Motorcycle Specialist, said it was an ideal location for the auction.
“The Barber Motorsports Museum is world-renowned, especially for its supreme motorcycle collection and exhibition method,” he said.
The Oldest Surviving Vincent Black Lightning
— Silodrome® (@Silodrome) July 19, 2018
“Hosting an auction in partnership with ‘The Barber’ is a natural extension and we couldn’t be more pleased.”
Another interesting bike in the auction is a 1949 Vincent Black Shadow, one of only around 30 ever made. It was custom built for Hans Stärkle, a Swiss racer and was only the second model of the bike ever made. It comes with a full ownership history. Bidding is expected to reach a cool US$400-500,000.
Steve McQueen: actor, icon, racer
McQueen’s love of racing ran deep. Along with Peter Revson, he competed in the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring race in a Porsche 908/02 and won the three-litre class. His plans to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Man that same year were scuppered, however, when film producers concerned about the Hollywood A-lister they had invested in burning around in a race car threatened to withdraw their support if he took part.
.@bonhams1793 is auctioning off one of the most significant movie motorcycles ever this year: This 1970 Husqvarna 400, which appeared in Steve McQueen's 'On Any Sunday.' https://t.co/avbx3xjAmk pic.twitter.com/rA49fQATXD
— ForbesLife (@ForbesLife) July 23, 2018
He was also a seasoned off-road motorcycle racer, initially riding a Triumph 500 cc before he obtained the Husqvarna in 1970. He competed in a number of off-road races across the West Coast and was even inducted into the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978.
He did many of his own stunts for films including much of the daredevil riding in the classic The Great Escape, where eagle-eyed fans can even see him doing the stunts for one of the German riders chasing him.
The 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross was just one of many luxury vehicles in McQueen’s collection. A 1963 Ferrari he owned previously went to auction. He also had a range of Porsches, Mini Coopers, Jaguars, Chevrolets and a GMC Pickup Truck.