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McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes
of a Hollywood Icon

McQueen's Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon SAY "STEVE MCQUEEN" AND WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF? To many people it would be the unforgettable image of the actor on a motorcycle in a scene from The Great Escape.

Dozens of books have been written about Steve McQueen's life and career. But none, says his son Chad, has focussed on the cars and bikes the star owned
the ones he worked into his films and racing. Until now. Chad writes in his Foreword to Matt Stone's new book, McQueen's Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon: "Cars and bikes were woven not only into our family, but into Dad's movies." And, he says, he was delighted when Matt Stone approached him with the idea for a book as he recognised that this major part of the star's story needed to be told.

Chad recalls visiting the set of the film Le Mans, when he was a child. Along with the Ferrari 512s, Porsche 917s, Lola T70s and Porsche 911s was "a strange blue racer called a Matra."

Steve McQueen loved cars and he was passionate about racing. He was once quoted as saying: "I'm not sure whether I'm an actor who races or a racer who acts." The book takes a look at that
going behind the scenes to take a look into McQueen's film roles and how
the car chases were filmed.

The cars and motorbikes that featured in his films were not just any vehicles. In Bullitt it was a Mustang
McQueen took an unscheduled wrong turn and corrected it in such a dramatic way that the shot stayed in the famous sequence; in The Thomas Crown Affair it was a Ferrari NART Spyder and a fully set up Corvair-powered dune buggy.

Chad now has some bikes and two of the cars from his father's large collection
a 1969 911S and a 1958 Porsche Speedster. The Speed-ster was bought from new and Steve used it when he first went racing.

Steve McQueen was, along with James Dean
who died at a tragic-ally-young age Paul Newman and James Garner, among the first actors who loved cars and racing before it was fashionable to do so.

McQueen's Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon
is full of stories about the man and the cars. A Siata 208S that had formerly belonged to the star was bought by Dr Bruce Shand. While driving it in Hollywood, another car pulled up alongside him and he recognised McQueen
whom he had met once before while picking up some mis-sing parts for the Siata. Shand pulled over and let McQueen treat him to the drive of his life!

In the early days, McQueen had helped an older friend to assemble a hot rod. The star had a fascination with all things mechanical and he went on to buy more and more cars. The smallest car he owned was a 1967 Mini Cooper S
repainted and with trick touches added. But he was often seen racing through the Hollywood Hills at night in his rare Jaguar XK-SS. Motorcycles were also important to him and Steve raced them under the pseudonym 'Henry Mushman'.

Steve McQueen raced at Sebring, Phoenix and Elsinore. When he was the guest car-tester for Sports Illustrated magazine (8 August 1966 issue), he carried out his task at the legendary Riverside International Raceway
about an hour east of Los Angeles. It was there that McQueen had raced in his Porsche Speedster and where he'd also tes-ted a Chevy V8-powered Lola T70 sports racer, so he'd had some understanding of the track.

Steve McQueen also owned as many as 120 bikes at one time. They were stored in a large hangar beside his Boeing Stearman bi-plane. His dirt riding experience
casually mentioned by his character Hilts, in the film The Great Escape, began on a bike borrowed from a neighbour. He then started racing in Southern California, on specially-modified Triumphs. Despite this, we learn from the book that it was actually his stunt double Bud Ekins who carried out the most famous fence-jumping sequence in The Great Escape. "I always felt a bit guilty about that," McQueen said later.

The chapters devoted to his competition careers on four wheels and two provide ample evidence that he was an accomplished driver and rider. To get the experience of driving a Porsche 908 ahead of the Le Mans film, McQueen drove in
and won a couple of sports car races in America. For a while he led the A Sports Racer category in the SCCA's Southern Pacific region but was unable to contest further events because of filming commitments. Thirty-one years later Chad was to win the C Sports Racer class of the SCCA National championship.

Stone ends with a review of McQueen's legacy
the cars and bikes sold after his death in 1980. In TV commercials by the Ford Motor Company, McQueen has even been digitally recreated. For the many millions of Steve McQueen fans and all those who religiously watch The Great Escape on television each Christmas, this book is an essential purchase.

Steve McQueen passed away in Mexico on November 7, 1980 from complications of mesothelioma, a rare and painful form of lung cancer that few survive. In 2002, Sheryl Crow had a hit single with Steve McQueen
a fitting tribute to a superstar.

McQueen's Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon by Matt Stone, with a Foreword by Chad McQueen, is published in hardback by Motorbooks. Out now, it is available from all good bookshops at an RRP of 16.99. ISBN: 978-0-7603-2866-8.

Author Matt Stone is the executive editor of Motor Trend magazine and has been a professional automotive journalist and photographer since 1985. He has written and photographed seven automotive books for MBI Publishing Company, including 365 Cars You Must Drive.