The Most Famous Steve McQueen Cars
Terence Steven “Steve” McQueen is one of the best known actors of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Although acting was not his first passion. While studying acting in New York during the early 1950s, the future King of Cool began to race motorcycles, launching a lifelong fascination with motorsports. That fascination led him to buy numerous motorcycles and cars during his life. McQueen had a particular fascination with Ferraris, owning several, like a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which was auctioned a few years ago. He also claimed ownership of one of the most expensive American cars ever sold — a 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage.
McQueen was known for buying many of the cars he drove in his films, if they survived. He was also known for buying just about any car that caught his eye. As you can imagine, he owned quite a few rides. These are some of his more famous cars, including a few of the more well known film cars that he drove and a few of his private cars.
1. 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta
Since the King of Cool was into Ferraris, why not start with a Ferrari? Ferrari began building the 250 in 1953, but Pinin Farina did not offer a Lusso (Italian for luxury) until 1962. Scaglietti built the Lusso with the fastback style that was prominent during the 1960s. It was powered by the Tipo 168 engine found in the 250 GTO. This powerplant offered drivers 240 horsepower to play with. It was auctioned by RM Sotheby’s along with several Steve McQueen cars and fetched an amazing $2.3 million.
2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder
As it happened, McQueen’s ’64 Lusso had developed a bad habit of using too much oil under hard acceleration. After seeing the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder that Faye Dunaway’s character was driving during filming of The Thomas Crown Affair, McQueen ordered his own. There were only ten examples built and each was powered by a DOHC Colombo V12 capped off with six Weber carbs. This powerplant offered up 300 horsepower, more than enough to make your heart pound. RM Sotheby’s recently auctioned the last NART Spyder built and it brought one heck of a price.
3. 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo
Porsche introduced the first turbocharged 911 for the 1975 model year. Technically, it was marketed as the 930 Turbo Carrera in the North American market, but that is just semantics, it was a 911. Factory versions were powered by a 3.0 liter engine that generated 260 horsepower. This was one of Steve McQueen’s cars he kept at home for personal use.
4. Porsche 917K
The Porsche 917K was built for 24 hour races like LeMans and the 24 Hours at Daytona.. That is why it was featured in the Steve McQueen movie LeMans. Two cars were used during filming, but both were destroyed. The “K” designation has only been used by Porsche twice — in 1970 and 1971. The K design managed to win seven races during the 1970 season and won at LeMans in 1971.
5. 1970 Porsche 911S
This 1970 Porsche 911S was purchased for McQueen to drive around Europe while filming the movie LeMans. Yes, it made a few short appearances in the film, but it was mainly used by McQueen to get from location to location. Like many Steve McQueen cars, when it was auctioned by RM Sotheby’s, it fetched quite a price tag compared to similar cars, raking in $1.375 million.
6. 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage
We can not mention McQueen’s film LeMans without featuring the 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage that had such an impact on the auction block. With the film pedigree and a direct McQueen connection, RM Sotheby’s had a high auction estimate for this GT40 when it went up for sale, but the company was way off. The car sold for a record $11 million. That is an especially high price given that the GT40 was used as a camera car and did not appear in the film!
7. 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastback
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One of the more iconic Steve McQueen cars is the McQueen Bullit Mustang. There are many things that have made it highly sought after by car collectors and McQueen fans alike. First of all, it is a rare GT 390 Fastback. Second, McQueen drove it during filming, sometimes at speeds of 110 miles-per-hour, through the streets of San Francisco. Third, there were only two used during filming. One was destroyed and the other was sold as soon as filming wrapped. The buyer has hidden it away since the sale and refuses to be interviewed. That gives it an air of mystery that collectors can not resist. Considering all of those factors, the McQueen Bullit Mustang may be the most sought after of Steve McQueen’s cars.
8. 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum
The 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum that chases (and is chased by) McQueen in Bullit is not as well known as the McQueen Bullit Mustang GT 390 Fastback, but it is still one of the hottest Steve McQueen cars. It is pictured above during the chase scene. In 1968, the Charger 440 Magnum was capable of 375 horsepower without tuning. The same engine was often used in police pursuit vehicles of the era. Unfortunately, the car did not survive filming or it may have fetched an interesting price at auction.
9. 1956 Jaguar XKSS
The 1956 Jaguar XKSS is another of the Steve McQueen cars that was part of his personal collection. According to McQueen Online, he lost his driver’s license twice because of the speeding tickets he collected while driving this Jag. He told a story once about using his pregnant wife to get out of one ticket. McQueen’s XKSS is housed at the Peterson Automotive Museum, but estimates place its value at $30 million if it came up for sale.
10. Winton Flyer
The Winton Flyer was purpose built by Von Dutch for The Reivers — a 1969 McQueen film. It was intended to look, drive, and act like a 1904 automobile. It was one of the Steve McQueen cars that was auctioned at the Imperial Palace in November 1984. It was sold again in 2006 by Bonhams, bringing in $100,000.
11. 1952 Hudson Wasp
The Hudson Motor Car Company was known for its innovative and futuristic designs and mechanics. Dual brakes and a balanced crankshaft were both Hudson innovations that affected the automotive industry around the globe. Hudson did not enter the racing world until 1951 and Hudsons won twelve races that year. In 1952, Hudsons won 27 of 34 Gran National races. Such a racing pedigree may have prompted McQueen to add one to his personal collection.
12. 1951 Chevrolet Styline DeLuxe
Of all the Steve McQueen cars to be sold, this one may have the saddest pedigree: It was the last car McQueen ever drove in a film. He drove it during the filming of The Hunter. The film was made shortly after he was diagnosed with lung cancer and released shortly before his death in 1980. Before being sold at auction in 2013, it was owned by Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars fame. Just like most Steve McQueen cars, it fetched quite a bit more than a similar, non-McQueen related model would have.
13. Lightning McQueen
While not really one of the Steve McQueen cars you have been reading about, Lightning McQueen, best known for his role in Cars, is often thought to have been inspired by Steve McQueen. As cool as that would have been, it is not true. The name Lightning McQueen was inspired by the late Glenn McQueen who was a supervisor of digital animation and a supervising character animator for Pixar. John Lasseter, a Pixar co-founder, called McQueen the “heart and soul of our animation department” in an interview after the release of Cars.