WORD | McQueen's Machines

- The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon

Matt Stone


Another in the many McQueen books that have appeared recently. There's a lot of stuff in here from new interviews with the present and previous owners of his cars. It's a real insight into his huge interest in cars and speed in general. I was particularly struck by his insistence on favourite colour schemes and changing details in the seats and interior; a mark of a true petrol head! "Racing is life - and rest was just waiting..." as he used to say.

The Ferrari 250 Lusso features quite heavily. I've seen many pictures of it before but this book shows what a beautiful thing it is. He had a love of a particular shade of brown and had a few cars painted the same shade, the brown paintwork on the Lusso sounds odd (and is a very strange colour choice for a Ferrari at any time!) but it does work very well. The workshop that he used said...

" He spends 15k on this fabulous new Ferrari, and the first thing he wants to do is tear it apart and change it. But that was McQueen. He knew what he wanted. He’d listen to what other people suggested consider all their advice, and then do it his way. And he was usually right.”

It seems very true. The details recalled by the workshops he used are interesting, like the electric ariel that they installed on the Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder; when it was down it was flush with the body work to keep the uncluttered SoCal look. It warms the heart to think he was so keen on the details.

As well as various 356 and 911 Porsche's, he had matching his and hers Mercs, a 300SEL 6.3 and 3.5 Cabriolet, both in black (the 3.5 for the lady obviously). Chad reports a conversation he had with his farther about the 6.3

" Dad what are you doing with that?” Chad said, “This thing is fast, you wouldn’t believe it. Last month I was I Germany, I was in a 911S doing about 130 on the Autobahn, and I saw something coming up behind flashing it’s lights. It must have been doing 150 mph. I moved over and there was this 60 year old guy in a cap smoking a pipe, and he went blowing by like I was standing still. So I decided there and then to buy me one of those” Chad said “it was one of his favourite cars he drove it everywhere.”

He put together a really great collection of cars. My favourites have got to be the 6.3 Benz, 356 Speedster, blue 1958 GMC pickup, Lusso, and Jaguar XK-SS all of them really outstanding cars, and all were given a tasteful Steve McQueen make over which show just how interested he was in the styling and driver comfort. A real hot rodder at heart. Overall this book is a great value, well organised, an entertaining read with lots of new insider interviews and pictures. An essential purchase for the casual - as well as more obsessive - McQueen fan.

Billy Graham once asked Steve what his religion was he said “It’s the desert, the grass, the sun in the sky-and my wheels”

Amen to that...