Posts Tagged ‘Steve McQueen’


Steve McQueen drives an Alfa Duetto as part of a series of track-tests at Riverside on 13 June 1966-published in ‘Sports Illustrated’ magazine’s 8 August 1966 issue…

Its an interesting read in terms of McQueen’s background in cars and motor racing before insurance issues- the studios for whom he worked wanted to protect their asset ended his racing, and his opinions on the eight cars tested.

The ‘roll of honour’ included the Duetto, E Type, Corvette, Ferrari 275GTS, Aston DB6, Benz 230SL, 911 and Cobra 427, a nice day at the Riverside office for Steve!

He rated the Alfa’s brakes, handling, 5 speed gearbox and engine albeit the little car lacked the power McQueen was used to in his daily rides, a Ferrari and Jag XKSS. ‘It is a very forgiving car, very pretty too, the Pininfarina body is swell’ Steve quipped.

Click on this link to read the article, well worth the effort, in full;


James Drake, Bettmann

Tailpiece: More serious 1966 work Steve?…


McQueen leaving the set of ‘Sand Pebbles’, Hong Kong. Is it a racer he is riding back to the hotel or a Cafe Racer, exhaust system looks pretty racey? (Bettmann)





Steve McQueen (or is it John Whitmore) at the wheel of a Lotus 30 shooting some of the million feet of unused footage for this cancelled movie…

John Frankenheimer and MGM were in a race with Steve McQueen and Warner Bros to make a movie with Grand Prix racing as its theme.

John Sturges was the Director of Day of The Champion, filming of footage, using many cars specifically acquired for the purpose commenced in 1965.

‘The Sand Pebbles’ in which McQueen starred, and for which he received his only Academy Award Nomination ran over time, delaying the production of ‘Day of The Champion’, his Hollywood neighbour James Garner played the lead role in ‘Grand Prix’, the iconic 1966 F1 movie and a huge commercial success, beating ‘Day of a Champion’ into the cinemas.

The pin was pulled on the “Day of The Champion’, there was no value in two similar movies appearing at about the same time.

McQueen didn’t speak to Garner for over two years…but came back with a vengeance in ‘Le Mans’, not much of a story, a commercial flop but a sensational racing movie!

John Sturges famously quit ‘Le Mans’ after arguments with McQueen who wanted a documentary style ‘slice of racing life’ film, Sturges equally adamant that a strong story line was essential for commercial success…’I’m too old and rich to put up with this shit’ was his parting line.

‘Le Mans’ was completed, after running hopelessly over budget, but only after Steve tipped his acting fee and forfeited his gross in the films takings to fund it…

But what a movie!


‘Day of The Champion’ production teaser (Pinterest)


Getting rid of cars now surplus to stock…(Pinterest)

steve 2

‘Day of The Champion’ morphed into ‘Le Mans’ several years later, a commercial flop but a triumph as McQueens creative tribute to motor racing (Pinterest)


‘Pete Arron’ ready to race… James Garner proved himself a dab hand at the wheel during the filming of ‘Grand Prix’ (Pinterest)


‘Grand Prix’ cut it creatively, commercially, and as a racing movie. Iconic to this day, and one of the top ten grossing films of 1966 (Pinterest)

Photo Credits…



Steve McQueen , the ‘King of Cool’ to a couple of generations fettles his Jaguar XKSS on the set of ‘Wanted : Dead or Alive’…

McQueens movie exploits included such classics as ‘The Magnificent Seven’, ’The Great Escape’, ’The Thomas Crown Affair’, ’Papillon’, and in an automotive sense ‘Bullitt’ and the iconic racing movie ‘Le Mans’, ‘up there’ with ‘Grand Prix’ and now ‘Rush’ perhaps as THE racing movie.

‘Wanted : Dead or Alive’ ran as a tele-series in the US from 1958 to 1961 McQueen playing the role of bounty hunter Josh Randall, it essentially made his career, he was the first TV star to cross over to equivalent movie success.

He was a car, ‘bike and motor racing fanatic  competing early in his career until the studios said ‘its racing or us, your choice!’.

Amongst the cars he owned were Cooper T62 Formula Junior, Lotus 11 Le Mans, Austin Healey (Sebring) Sprite, Porsche 1600 Super, AC Cobra and perhaps most famously the Porsche 908 he placed second in the 1970 Sebring 12 Hour race, one of the Blue Riband endurance events then as now.

revvie and steve

Revvie and McQueen being interviewed by Chris Economaki at the end of Sebring 1970. Revson looks fresh enough to do another race! Revson on the cusp of greatness at the time. (Dave Friedman)

Sebring 12 Hour ’70…

In those days Grand Prix Drivers also competed in the World Endurance Championship, McQueens  co-driver Peter Revson, a Lola Can Am racer in 1970 ,and later a Grand Prix winner with Mclaren drove the greater number of laps but McQueen  who raced in a plaster cast as a consequence of a broken ankle in a motorbike accident several weeks before was no slouch in a field which included Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx ,Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert and many more. The race was won by Andretti, Ignazio Giunti and Nino Vaccarella in a works Ferrari 512S.

Steve in pits

McQueens own company ,Solar Productions, made ‘Le Mans’ , ‘his cars owned cv’ therefore includes the cars used in making the film ; Ferrari 512S, Porsche 917, LolaT70, Ford GT40, Chevron B16 and so on…some of the best sports cars of all time.


The Jaguar XKSS is the roadgoing variant of Jaguars ‘50s endurance winner the XK’D’ Type which won Le Mans 3 years on the trot , 1955-57. McQueens car is chassis number # 713, construction of the cars ending with the awful fire which all but destroyed Jags’ Browns Lane, Coventry factory in February 1957. 16 were built and later that year 2 more D Types were converted to full XKSS specs, but retaining their XKD chassis plates.

The division between the seats of the ‘D’ were cut away, headrest removed, and a windscreen fitted. The spartan interior was trimmed, a ‘pack rack’ mounted on the boot, hood and sidescreens fabricated.

Most of the cars went to the ‘States and all retained their D Type mechanical specifications making them amongst the fastest road cars of their day…3.4 litre DOHC straight 6, 3 X 45 DCO3 Webers , 4 speed box, independent front suspension, live rear axle, Dunlop disk brakes, circa 250 BHP and good for between 124 and 166 miles per hour dependent upon the final drive ratio specified.

The automotive tastes and talent of the ‘King of Cool’ were great, McQueen died of cancer, aged 50 on November 7 1980

D Type cutout

Jaguar ‘XKSS’ Cutaway drawing ‘The Autocar’ magazine


Mc Queen D Type

Checkout this YouTube footage of  the ex McQueen XKSS # 713 in Jay Leno’s hands…

Photo Credits…

Photos ‘Pinterest’ unattributed, ‘The Autocar’ cutaway, ‘Profile Publications’, Dave Friedman

pistol 2

The John Wyer Engineering Porsche 917K of Siffert/Redman/Kinnunen (DNF) passes the Solar Productions Porsche 908/2 of McQueen/Revson

pistol 3