Top 10 most valuable Steve McQueen cars sold at auction

by Jon Burgess
22 April 2022 6 min read
Top 10 most valuable Steve McQueen cars sold at auction
Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

When the ‘King of Cool,’ Steve McQueen passed on 7 November 1980, he left behind a vast collection of cars and motorcycles, amassed through a lifetime of buying, selling and racing – some of which are still traded and auctioned today.

This March, a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 went under the hammer with Bring a Trailer. Bid up to $164,000 (£126,143) it failed to meet reserve, though the money it did raise was way above the $110,000 (£84,608) listed for a Condition 1 example of the same model without the McQueen connect, on Hagerty’s US valuation tool.

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The 6.3 was purchased new by McQueen, registered at his film company, Solar Productions, and driven until his death. The car’s rediscovery in 2007 prompted a thorough mechanical restoration in 2013 by  Kienle Automobiltechnik in Germany and a stint at San Fransisco Sportscars where it reportedly sold for $339,995 (£261,269) before reappearing on Bring a Trailer.

McQueen Mercedes SEL
Photo: Bring A Trailer

According to a commenter known as Ted, said to be a previous owner of the SEL and a back-up stunt driver on Le Mans, McQueen was passed by a 6.3 on the autobahn while driving flat out in Germany; suitably impressed, he made a beeline for the nearest Mercedes-Benz dealership and placed an order. Ted bought the car directly from Solar Productions in 1980 after McQueen’s death and owned the Benz for a couple of years before moving it on.

No-sales are rare in the ex-McQueen world. 300 SEL aside, only an ex-Le Mans Porsche 917K, estimated at between £12-£14 million otherwise failed to sell in recent years.

We won’t have to wait long for the next McQueen car to come up though, with a 1970 K5 Blazer among the lots at Mecum’s Indianapolis sale in May. Where it will rank among these ten previous auction results of McQueen cars remains to be seen…

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, £6.09m

McQueen Ferrari 275
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

$10.17m, Sotheby’s, 2014

McQueen was an avid fan of European sports cars; Ferraris, Porsches and Lotus models were never far away from his garage. Even by his standards, though, this 275 GTB/4 was special.

Ordered new by the actor, and bodied by Scaglietti, it was restored to his specification by Ferrari Classiche in 2013, after which it appeared in a 60-car concours hosted by Ferrari of North America. After it left McQueen’s hands, it spent time in the ownership of TV star, Guy Williams (of Lost in Space and Zorro) and racing driver, Vern Schuppan.

1968 ex-Bullitt Ford Mustang GT390, £2.84m

McQueen Mustang Bullitt
Photo: Mecum

$3.74m, Mecum, 2020

Movie hero cars don’t come any more sought-after than the Highland Green GT390 Mustang pedalled by McQueen himself in Bullitt. Although most of the stunt driving was performed by McQueen’s friend, Bud Ekins, the iconic, axle-tramping reverse as the antagonist’s Charger speeds away definitely had ‘The King of Cool’ in the driver’s seat.

Thought lost for years, alongside a second car which later turned up in a Mexican scrapyard, the car was in fact purchased and kept by the Kiernan family as a replacement for an MGB GT after filming wrapped; terse letters between the family and McQueen revealed that he tried to buy it back on several occasions. It reappeared to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bullitt, and, with a light mechanical refresh, took part in the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Kiernan family decided to sell the Mustang in 2020, having kept it out of the limelight for nearly five decades. It briefly held the record for the most expensive Mustang sold at auction – until an ex-Ken Miles 1965 Shelby GT350R went for $3.85 million at a Mecum sale later that year.

1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, £1.16m

McQueen Ferrari 250GT
Photo: Christie’s

$2.3m, Christie’s, 2011

McQueen’s career was doing rather well for itself in the early Sixties; appearances in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, among others, had seen to that. He took delivery of the Lusso in mid-1963, later driving it up the California coast with wife Neile, and photographer friend William Claxton in tow.

Eventually, a NART Spyder replaced the Lusso in his affections, and the car was sold to fellow car enthusiast, Tom Sherwood, in 1973. Restored over a five-year period between 2000 and 2005, McQueen’s patronage quickly elevated the Lusso’s price to record levels when it crossed the block at Christie’s.

1976 Porsche 911 (930) Turbo, £1.24m

McQueen Porsche 930 Turbo
Photo: Mecum

$1.95 million, Mecum, 2015

Documented as the last special-order Porsche McQueen ordered, Mecum’s sale of his 911 (930) Turbo prompted a great deal of interest from marque aficionados. Not only was its colour – Slate Grey – a special shade, but the car was also built early in the 930 production run, before intercoolers were fitted.

McQueen later added wider wheels to the car and wired up a dashboard switch to shut off the taillights should he be chased on Mulholland Drive. Most touchingly, a portion of proceeds from the sale went to benefit The Boys’ Republic reform school; McQueen, a 1946 alumnus, ended up there as a youngster and credited the charity with putting him back on the straight and narrow.

1970 Porsche 911S ex-Le Mans, £835,000

McQueen Porsche 911S
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

$1.375m, RM Sotheby’s, 2011

It’s the first car we see in Lee H Katzkin’s Le Mans – and while it isn’t a 917, Michael Delaney’s 911S has to share some of the star billing with Steve McQueen.

Consigned to auction by no other than comedian Jerry Seinfeld, the 911S, delivered new to McQueen on the set of Le Mans, was built to the highest road-going specification for a 911 at the time. By the time it crossed the block in 2011, it remained mostly original, save for a respray, a new windscreen, reupholstered front seats, and a pair of new dampers. An identical spec 911S would currently sell for an average of £171,000 in concours condition, here in Britain, according to the Hagerty Price Guide, illustrating the McQueen effect.

1953 Siata 208S Spyder, £574,700

McQueen Siata Spyder
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

$946,000, RM Sotheby’s, 2011

The Siata was a minor sensation in Fifties Italy, and did much for the marque in import racing championships in the United States, powered by a 2.0-litre iteration of Fiat’s ‘Otto Vu’ V8.

McQueen was this car’s second owner. Bought in 1956, McQueen stripped off the Siata badges, adding Ferrari equivalents. Having owned the 208S for two years, its next owner, Dr Bruce Sand, met back up with McQueen twice, once to retrieve some missing parts for the car that the actor still had, and again when McQueen jumped in the driver’s seat, commandeering the car for a flat-out blast along Coldwater Canyon and Mulholland Drive.

Restored over the years, and with a slightly uprated engine, the 208S Spyder (one of approximately 35 built) is the fifth most expensive 208S sold at auction.

1967/8 Con-Ferr Meyers Manx, £352,300

McQueen Meyers Manx
Photo: Bonhams

$456,000, Bonhams, 2020

In a film where Faye Dunaway’s detective drove a Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder, the cars driven by millionaire bank robber Thomas Crown of the Thomas Crown Affair were never going to be run-of-the-mill.

Crown’s beach car – a highly modified, Chevrolet Corvair-engined variant of the iconic Meyers Manx – was one of the film’s vehicular standouts. Featuring a specification laid out by McQueen, who also did all the driving across the sand dunes, the Manx spent much of its later life in Hawaii with a seized VW engine, before a later, sympathetic restoration brought it back to its silver screen glory.

1967 Solar Plastics Engineering ‘Baja Boot 1’, £157,200

McQueen Solar Plastics Baja Boot
Photo: Bonhams

$199,500, Bonhams, 2008

A former GM skunkworks project made good by the backing of gearbox specialist Hurst Shifters and engineering consultant, Vic Hickey, the V8-engined, tubular-chassis ‘Baja Boot’ (later called Baja Boot 1) was built to conquer the Baja 1000 endurance race.

After an unsuccessful debut, it was eventually purchased by McQueen’s engineering firm, Solar Plastics, and campaigned successfully until the mid-70s. McQueen’s friend and Great Escape/Bullitt stunt driver, Bud Ekins, won the Baja 500 in 1969 behind its wheel. It was restored in 1996, complete with the patented safety ‘Baja Bucket’ seats that McQueen had designed.

1953 Hudson Hornet Sedan, £126,500

Hudson Hornet RM Sotheby's
Photo: RM Sotheby’s

$165,000, RM Sotheby’s, 2019

While the Pixar film Cars did much for the ‘step down’ Hudson Hornet’s profile, its motorsport legacy was also enviable. And McQueen had a soft spot for the marque, which later merged into what became the American Motors Corporation.

Apart from this high-performance, four door Hornet, purchased in 1977, three years before his death, McQueen had a 1951 Wasp to drive to church in, and a 1950 Custom Commodore Six Convertible. The Hornet had its engine rebuilt while in McQueen’s ownership and was later sold in 2019 from a private Swiss collection.

1958 GMC Series 101-8 Pick-up, £58,600

Bonhams GMC 101 pickup
Photo: Bonhams

$92,000, Bonhams, 2012

A humble pickup may not fit with the silver screen depiction of ‘The King of Cool’, but McQueen kept such practical utility vehicles around for travelling between his private properties.

Like his Hudson Hornet, the 101-8 had the most powerful engine in the range, and was further tuned by the actor. It was said to be his favourite car of a ten-vehicle collection he kept at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel in California. It wore an unusual registration plate: ‘MCQ3188’, a reference to his student number at The Boys’ Republic.

Read more

Bullitt’s showcase stunts broke new ground – and plenty of cars
Plan your next great escape on this ex-McQueen Husqvarna
40 years after Steve McQueen’s death, we celebrate 7 of his best rides

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  • jed says:

    Honourable mention. Steves favourite car was his “Green Rat” and XKSS Jag. Although not “Sold at Auction” it is quoted as having a value of $25 million. it was a daily drive and he kept it until he died.

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