Terence Stephen “Steve” McQueen is a legendary actor, having featured in a number of blockbuster hits in the 60’s and 70’s, playing the cool, intriguing gentleman. Interestingly enough, acting was not his first passion. While studying in New York during the early 1950’s, the future star dubbed the “King of Cool,” began to race motorcycles, launching a lifelong obsession with motorsports.
This fascination led him to buy numerous motorcycles and cars during his life. McQueen had a particular penchant for Ferraris, owning several, including the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which was auctioned a few years ago for a large sum. He also claimed ownership of one of the most expensive American cars ever sold — a 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage.
Appearing in a number of Hollywood classics, including The Great Escape, The Blob, Papillion and The Thomas Crown Affair, Steve McQueen quickly became the street tough, Hollywood heartthrob of his era. For many, Steve McQueen was the definition of a stylish, cool, calculating wiseguy. He starred in other iconic films, such as Bullitt and Le Mans, reaching the height of his popularity in the 1960’s and 70’s. However, there are some that might argue that his love of cars is as memorable as his films.
When given the opportunity to drive in a movie, he preferred to perform many of his own stunts. This includes some of the car chases in Bullitt and the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape. McQueen always had a love for cars, highlighted in the 1968 film Bullitt. Playing a San-Francisco cop, McQueen featured in one of the best car chases in Hollywood history, making the Highland Green Ford Mustang Fastback 390 GT the iconic “Bullitt Car.” Conducting all his own car stunts in the chase, McQueen demonstrated his impressive driving skills while in a high speed pursuit of a Dodge Charger through the hilly San Francisco streets.
After realising he could combine his two passions, racing and acting, McQueen starred in Le Mans, a movie about the 24-hour endurance race, hosted in France. Playing Porsche race driver Michael Delaney, the film sees McQueen and his teammate battle the Ferrari team in a nail-biting race for the win.
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. His car collection is something truly spectacular. It contains some of the most rare and interesting vehicles ever produced, and the collection as a whole said a lot about the character of its owner. McQueen was a man who cared about the fine details.
One thing which all of McQueen’s cars have in common are their eye-wateringly expensive price tags. The collection today boasts a combined value of $45-$52M. Just to put this in perspective, this much cash buys you 50 Bugatti Veyrons or 125 Lamborghini Aventadors.
In the late 1970’s, McQueen became ill and after a short battle with cancer. He passed away at the young age of 50 on November 7, 1980 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. In 2007, Forbes celebrated his memory and said McQueen remained a popular star and is still the "King of Cool," in the hearts of many, even 27 years after his death. Ironically, he is also one of the highest-earning deceased celebrities.
A rights-management agency head credited Branded Entertainment Network (called Corbis at the time) with maximizing the profitability of his estate by limiting the licensing of McQueen's image, avoiding the commercial saturation common among his deceased peers’ estates. Even so, he seems to have invested well. McQueen's 1963 metallic-brown Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta sold for US$2.31 million at auction on August 16, 2007. If you had to pick, what is your favorite McQueen’s car and movie? Join us.
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