Steve McQueen motorcycles and memorabilia continues to rate highly among collectors with his 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross selling for $US230,500 (A326,610) at a weekend auction.
The Hollywood star and national endurance motorcycle representative rode the Husky in the closing beach scenes of the 1971 film On Any Sunday.
His Husky had previously sold at a Bonham’s action in 2011 for $US144,500 ($A204,773). That’s a 153% increase. Not a bad return for any collectors!
It was a highlight of Bonhams’ first auction at the famed Barber Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
But that’s not all. McQueen’s 1970 Bell motorcycle helmet fetched a whopping $US21,875 ($A30,989).
While his 1953 Vincent 498cc Comet Series-C sold for $US63,250 ($A89,438), his unusual Danish 1939 Nimbus Model C Luxus with sidecar did not sell.
It is not unexpected that McQueen’s Husky sold for so much.
It was the most expensive bike sold at auction until Australia Day this year when a 1951 Vincent Black Lightning on which Jack Ehret set an Australian speed record was bought at the Bonham’s annual Las Vegas motorcycle auction for a record $US929,000 ($A1,155,000, €748,500) by an unknown collector who is returning the bike to Australia.
McQueen’s Husky is perhaps one of the most iconic bikes in popular culture, along with the Easy Rider choppers and the Terminator 2 Fat Boy which sold at action in June 2018 for more than $US480,000 (about $A631,500).
The Husky also featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated ridden by a shirtless McQueen, the King of Cool.
It was offered with extensive documentation, including the ownership card from the California Department of Motor Vehicles naming Solar Productions (McQueen’s production company) and McQueen’s entry form for the 1970 Saddleback 500 Senior Race.
Adding to the star value was a lucky penny – an uncirculated 1960 1¢ coin (1960 being the birth year of son Chad) – that was found inside a clear plastic case tucked away in the cavity of the motorcycle between the engine and frame.
Collectors shun celebrities
Meanwhile, some of the other “celebrity” motorcycles owned by Hollywood stars or that featured in movies did not sell at the auction.
- A Spanish 1968 Bultaco Pursang 250 ridden by Peter Fonda in the opening scene of Easy Rider;
- A Czech 1967 CZ 250 ridden by Paul Newman in the movie Sometimes a Great Notion; and
- A 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross owned by Fonda’s Easy Rider co-star Dennis Hopper.