Steve McQueen's 1952 Chevy Pickup and Camper up for Auction


  • 1952 Chevrolet Pickup Picture

    1952 Chevrolet Pickup Picture

    Steve McQueen's 1952 Chevrolet pickup with custom camper will cross the block at a Mecum's auction of celebrity items this Friday. | July 25, 2013

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Just the Facts:
  • A 1952 Chevrolet pickup with custom camper, formerly owned by Steve McQueen, will cross the auction block this Friday in Santa Monica, California.
  • Mecum Auctions did not release an estimated sale price.
  • Many other McQueen vehicles, personal items and movie memorabilia have been auctioned off since his death in 1980.

LOS ANGELES — Steve McQueen's 1952 Chevrolet pickup with custom camper will cross the auction block at a Mecum's auction of celebrity items this Friday, July 26, at the Santa Monica, California airport. Mecum did not release an estimated sale price.

Also up for bid will be a Jaguar XJS owned by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley's 1972 Cadillac station wagon, Dennis Hopper's Husqvarna motorcycle, and a host of other celebrity goodies, including the Indiana Jones whip, John Lennon's sunglasses and a bikini worn by Jessica Alba.

But for fans of the "King of Cool," the highlight will be the Forest Green 3800 series, 1-ton pickup purchased by McQueen on February 2, 1978. It is reportedly the vehicle in which he was transported from his home in Santa Paula, California, to the Ventura County airport on November 3, 1980, for a flight to Mexico for his final cancer surgery. He died four days later.

The truck, previously sold at an estate auction in Las Vegas in 1984, still has its original body and frame, paint, inline six-cylinder engine and four-speed transmission, as well as the last license plates from McQueen's years of ownership. It features a driver-side spotlight, toolboxes with tools, and 5-gallon gas tanks on the running boards. The truck will be sold with a certificate of authenticity, three registrations and additional certification from McQueen's personal attorney.

The attached "Dust Tite" camper, used by McQueen on cross-country trips, was custom built by California sheet-metal fabricator Harold Van Hoosen and has been with the truck since 1952. Made of aluminum and galvanized steel, it includes a bed, storage cabinets, shelves and drawers and a heavy-duty diamond-plate bumper.

McQueen, in addition to being a prolific, Academy Award-nominated actor was, of course, also closely associated with cars, motorcycles and motorsports of all kinds. His movies included Le Mans, in which he played a Porsche driver battling personal demons as well as the Ferrari team; Bullitt, which featured perhaps the greatest car chase ever filmed; and The Great Escape, not really known its cars, but which did include what must be the most famous motorcycle jump of all time.

In real life, McQueen raced both cars and motorcycles, despite the trepidation this caused on the part of film production companies. Beginning in 1959, he raced everything from sports cars to open-wheelers and became known as a serious competitor. In 1970, he and co-driver Peter Revson came in 2nd at the 12 Hours of Sebring in their Porsche 908/2. Amazingly, McQueen drove that event with his leg in a cast, the result of a motorcycle race two weeks earlier.

McQueen had begun riding motorcycles in the 1940s and racing from the early 1960s. He specialized in off-road events, including the grueling Baja 1000, mostly on specially prepared Triumphs. In 1964, he and his pal Bud Ekins rode that brand in the prestigious International Six Day Trial, held in East Germany. McQueen himself thought up the classic jump over barbed wire in The Great Escape, although it was Ekins who actually made the leap, on a thinly disguised Triumph.

As a collector, McQueen was known for his eclectic taste. In addition to the 1952 Chevy pickup and several other classic trucks and SUVs, he owned about 60 other vehicles, including the Ford GT40 that he drove in Le Mans, various American muscle cars, rare European exotics, several unusual airplanes and 130 classic motorcycles.

Since his death, most of the vehicles — and pretty much everything else he owned, or even touched — have been auctioned off. His 1963 Ferrari 250GT went for $2.3 million in 2007. His 1970 Porsche 911S, which appeared briefly in Le Mans, brought $1.4 million in 2011. Even the star's sunglasses, Rolex and Tag Heuer watches, racing trophies and other personal items have been sold to collectors.

Also going on the block later this month is the brown tweed jacket with suede elbow patches worn by McQueen in Bullitt. According to the Profiles in History auction house in Calabasas, California, this piece of movie history is expected to bring between $600,000 and $800,000, an amount that would be in line with the $984,000 brought in 2011 by his driving suit from Le Mans.

Edmunds says: It may not be McQueen's Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso or Jessica Alba's bikini, but the 1952 Chevy pickup would be an interesting acquisition for a collector.

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