Steve McQueen, also known as “The King of Cool,” is best known for his career as a Hollywood actor. The movie star was extremely popular during the 60’s and 70’s at the height of counterculture. By 1974, he was the highest-paid actor in the world. He’s been in popular box office hits such as The Sand Pebbles, Bullitt, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Towering Inferno, The Getaway, and The Magnificent Seven, just to name a few.
In real life, McQueen was a big motorcycle and race car enthusiast. He also performed some of his own stunts in the movies, including the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape. It was hard to find actors that were as skilled on a bike as McQueen, so he found himself getting a good amount of screen time on his Triumph TR6 motorbike. In his spare time, McQueen also dabbled in auto racing and even considered becoming a professional race car driver.
Here, we’ll take a brief look at McQueen’s racing career, as well as a few of the incredible rides in his car collection.
Steve McQueen’s Racing Career
In 1970, McQueen competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring race. McQueen, along with racer Peter Revson, managed to take home the win for the three-liter class in their Porsche 908. What’s even crazier is that McQueen was driving with a cast on his left foot from a motorcycle crash he had a few weeks prior. He came close, but missed winning overall by 23 seconds to a Ferrari 512S driven by Mario Andretti. Shortly after, the same Porsche 908 was entered as a camera car by McQueen’s production company Solar Production for the 1970 movie Le Mans, which depicted a fictional 24 Hours of Le Mans race. McQueen wanted to drive in the actual 24 Hour race, however, the filmmakers threatened to pull their support if he did. Although he loved racing cars, he participated in other types of racing, as well.
The actor and racing driver competed in lots of off-road motorcycle racing. He owned a 500cc Triumph, which he bought from Bud Ekins, and used it to compete in such races as the Mint 400, Baja 1000, and the Elsinore Grand Prix. In 1964, McQueen participated with a four-rider US team in the International Six Days Trial, which was a crazy enduro-style race in Erfurt, Germany. The grueling race involved a lot of crashing and McQueen was unable to finish this particular race. However, in 1978, he was inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Steve McQueen’s Car Collection
Steve McQueen had quite the selection of classic motorcycles and exotic and vintage cars in his personal collection. Seeing as he made a good fortune throughout his career, it’s expected that he would purchase quite a few toys for himself. He actually tried to buy the Ford Mustang from Bullitt on multiple occasions, but in the end, was unsuccessful. Check out some of the cool rides he had:
- Porsche 917, Porsche 908, and Ferrari 512 race cars used in the film Le Mans
- 1968 Ford GT40
- 1956 Jaguar XKSS – On exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California
- 1953 Hudson Hornet 4-door Sedan
- 1969 Chevrolet Baja Hickey race truck
- 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso
- 1958 Porsche 356 Speedster 1600 Super
- 1953 Siata 208s – His “little Ferrari”
- 1967 Mini Cooper-S
McQueen sure knew how to have a good time as an automotive and motorcycle enthusiast. He made some great movies, did some off-road and car racing, and always had a blast doing so. We lost a legendary person and a true automotive enthusiast in 1980, but his legacy will live on for many more years to come.