Home Cars 20 Classic Cars From Steve McQueen’s Collection

20 Classic Cars From Steve McQueen’s Collection

Vukasin Herbez February 26, 2020

Even if the nickname “King of Cool” doesn’t mean anything to you, the name Steve McQueen probably does. The legendary Hollywood actor, a symbol of many generations and one of the biggest gearheads among actors, is still an iconic figure even 39 years after his passing.

The biggest part of his appeal lies in the fact that McQueen was a vivid car collector and racer. Over the years, he accumulated quite a collection of rare, valuable, and unique machinery. So today, you will learn all about the top 20 of his fantastic cars. They are not only precious parts of automotive history but also legends of the movie world, as well.

20. Jaguar XKSS

One of the first serious sports cars McQueen acquired was the legendary Jaguar XKSS. He bought it used and in a right-hand drive configuration since almost all 16 they built were RHD cars. McQueen drove the car daily, often racing it on the streets.

Records show that he entered the dark-green Jaguar in several amateur races in the early ’60s. Interestingly, McQueen sold the XKSS in 1967 to a renowned collector. But in 1977, after lengthy negotiations, he managed to buy it back.

19. Porsche 911 S

The first real performance-oriented 911 appeared in 1967 in the form of the 911 S, with the “S” standing for “Sport.” This was an interesting car since it had the same 2.0-liter flat-six as the ordinary 911 but tuned to 180 HP and 7,200 rpm limit. Since it was light and powerful, the new engine gave it agility and a vivid performance with improved acceleration and top speeds.

The 911 S wasn’t a homologation special, just the first “above average” model that showed the world the 911 was a capable car with great potential. Steve was one of the first Hollywood celebrities to drive the new 911 S. He liked it so much that he even featured it in the opening scenes of the legendary Le Mans movie.

18. Ferrari 250 Berlinetta Lusso

For the end of the production of the fantastic 250 Series in 1964, Ferrari prepared the Lusso, a luxury version with a new body, a few improvements, and a beautiful design. This legendary Italian Gran Turismo coupe was McQueen’s favorite car for long-distance trips. Interestingly, he got it as a present for his 34th birthday from his wife. The car was a dark brown with a tan interior, an elegant color combination.

McQueen loved traveling with the Lusso, but he never raced it, at least not on the track. In fact, there were reports of the Los Angeles police chasing him for speeding.

17. Ford Mustang GT 390 Bullitt

One of the biggest Mustang legends is the Bullitt movie car. In 1968, McQueen starred in the detective flick Bullitt, playing a detective who drove a mean-looking ’68 GT390 Fastback. They used two cars during the shooting, one reportedly was destroyed and the other was for close-ups and promotional shoots.

It was driven and modified by McQueen himself, which he preserved. However, McQueen never owned the Highland Green Mustang GT 390 he used in the legendary cop flick, Bullitt. However, the car became iconic, so today car fans consider it to be one of the most valuable Mustangs in existence.

Basically, the car was a movie prop they later sold and thought it was lost. However, McQueen hired a private investigator in the late ’70s who found the car, but the owner declined his offers. Recently, Ford presented the car after more than 40 years in hiding. It sold for $3.4 million dollars at a Mecum auto auction in January 2020.

16. Porsche 908

By the late 1960s, McQueen’s passion for racing was in overdrive. He was even considering racing professionally, so he bought a new, state-of-the-art Porsche 908 race car. With the Porsche, he participated in several high-profile races with considerable success.

In fact, McQueen almost won the 1970 Sebring race battling the Porsche and Ferrari factory teams. His passion for racing led him into owning another special racing Porsche, the mighty 917. However, he bought it for shooting the movie Le Mans in 1971.

15. Porsche 356 Speedster

McQueen’s first sports/racing car was the legendary 356 Speedster. It was the lightweight version of the standard Porsche 356 they designed especially for amateur racers. His car was black with “knock-off” racing wheels. McQueen drove this tiny 75 HP strong roadster almost every weekend to a racetrack in the Los Angeles area.

But in May 1959, Steve managed to win his first SCCA series race. It was the event that hooked him on racing for the rest of his life. Interestingly, McQueen sold this car in the early ’60s, only to buy it back in 1974. Today, this beautiful Speedster is in hands of his son, Chad McQueen.

14. Mini Cooper S

Not all of McQueen’s machines were flashy, high-powered expensive cars. In fact, McQueen was known to buy, drive and race anything he found interesting and cool. So in the late ’60s, he acquired a Mini Cooper S with a tiny 1275-cc engine.

Since the Mini was so small and light, it provided a vivid performance. Also, Steve customized it with a few unique touches. Nowadays, the car is in its original shape. And it still wears all of McQueen’s original details and parts.

13. Hudson Wasp

By the late 1970s, McQueen discovered he was ill, so he started treatments. In that period, he married his third wife and became tired of his celebrity lifestyle. He moved away from Hollywood and stopped racing. In those days, McQueen’s car collection reflected his lifestyle change. And he turned to more ordinary, inexpensive, and honest cars and bikes.

One of his favorite cars from the late ’70s was a 1952 Hudson Wasp two-door. In contrast to other cars on the list, this Hudson is slow, bulky and far from exclusive. But McQueen drove it almost daily and enjoyed it thoroughly. Besides the Wasp, his garage contained many ’50s classics like Chevrolet trucks and cars that most people considered old and outdated in those days.

12. Porsche 930 Turbo

Porsche introduced a new generation called 930 which featured the same basic layout, new and improved design and bigger engines, but the real news was the 1975 930 Turbo. Faced with the government-imposed restrictions Porsche needed something to boost power and performance but still retain normal displacement, and turbocharging proved to be the perfect solution.

The 930 Turbo got 260 HP from its 3.0-liter flat-six along with signature air cooling, big rear wing, and wider rear track. It was notorious for its ill-handling capabilities but it delivered an exhilarating performance in times when performance cars were almost gone. Also, it started a legendary breed of lighting-fast Porsches. As an avid Porsche fan, McQueen wanted this car and got himself a dark gray one in 1976.

11. Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3

Back in the late 1960s, Mercedes took a big leap forward by introducing the 300 SEL 6.3 version of their luxury sedan W109. This was arguably the first power sedan for the company since the mighty 6.3-liter V8 engine with 250 HP and 434 lb-ft of torque sat under the hood. From the outside, the formal Mercedes sedan looked ordinary apart from its twin tailpipes.

However, when you kicked the accelerator pedal, you could leave a Porsche 911 in the dust. They designed this Benz for cruising the Autobahn at speeds of around 140 mph. McQueen was a big fan of this gorgeous sedan and bought it in the early ’70s to cruise around L.A. unnoticed.

10. Ferrari 275 GTB

The successor to the 250 GT was the 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB. It had a slightly bigger V12 engine, more performance, and better technology. However, it retained classic design with a long front end and short rear. It sold as a coupe and a convertible with GTS nameplate.

After the 250 Lusso, McQueen acquired the 275 GTB, which proved to be more powerful and faster. This car was photographed quite often and McQueen was known to be racing down the boulevards with his fellow actors and Ferrari fans, primarily James Coburn.

9. Shelby Cobra 289

In 1962, Shelby heard that AC Cars from England was planning to shut down the production of their Ace sports roadster since Bristol engines weren’t available anymore. In just a couple of days, he managed to get several engineless bodies on a transport to his Venice Beach shop, where Ford’s 260 V8 engines were waiting to be installed in new bodies.

The small-but-powerful American V8 in a light, nimble body proved to be a match made in heaven. Soon, Shelby installed the 289 V8 with 271 HP, which brought some serious performance to the little roadster.

The Shelby Cobra 289 was big news in the early ’60s, so naturally, McQueen was eager to try one out. He became good friends with Carroll Shelby and even loaned several Cobras for an extended period of time. It’s unclear if he ever bought one, but there are numerous photos and testimonies that he was often seen behind the wheel of a Shelby Cobra.

8. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The Corvette Stingray didn’t change much in appearance during its life on the market. Chevrolet abandoned the split-window setup for 1964, and in 1965, four-wheel disc brakes became standard. In 1966, for the first time, big block power was available for performance-craving Corvette fans.

This is why the 1966/67 Corvette is one of the most important years in the long history of this model. The introduction of the big block engine turned the Corvette into a powerful monster with 390 to 435 HP on tap. If you chose the famed L-88 option, you could get one of the fastest cars in the late ’60s and a true muscle car beast with a conservatively-rated 435 HP engine under the bulged hood.

McQueen’s first wife, Nellie Adams, had a Corvette in the early ’60s and crashed it, but Steve managed to get two more. Those cars are forever lost in the corridors of time, but there is proof he owned two Corvette Stingrays, a black and a maroon one.

7. Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder

Although only an upgraded version of the standard 275, the GTB/4 is an important model. It was the first Ferrari to feature four camshafts; hence the name. Also, it was one of the most advanced road cars of its period. The improved engine provided more performance and better acceleration. However, the real attraction was the convertible model.

The Spyder version was called the NART for the North American Racing Team and they only produced 10 examples. McQueen got himself one when shooting The Thomas Crown Affair, falling in love with the car.

6. Jeep CJ-5 V8

Jeep started with military vehicles and by the late ’60s, it evolved into making lifestyle vehicles. The CJ-5 was a slightly bigger, more powerful and improved model that offered more driving dynamics and usable space without sacrificing the unique appeal and qualities Jeep is famous for.

The CJ-5 became a sales hit, staying in production from 1954 to 1983, selling in over 600,000 examples. During that time, Jeep installed numerous engines, starting from the classic 2.2-liter four-cylinder to various AMC six-cylinder units.

In the late ’60s, McQueen became heavily involved in off-road racing, participating in the Baja 1000 race. His daily driver while in the desert was a specially prepared CJ-5 with a hot-rodded V8 engine delivering lots of power and special wheels.

5. Chevrolet 3100 Truck

Despite the fact that the American car industry was involved in the war effort from 1942 to 1945, the Chevrolet designers planned ahead. So in 1947, Chevy introduced the 3100 series truck, one of the first truly modern vehicles they presented in post-war America. The 3100 was a revolutionary model in many ways with modern styling and integrated fenders, tilted windshield, bigger truck bed, and wider track for better stability. Buyers could choose three engines, again all three six-cylinder units and three payload levels, half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and one-ton.

There was a short and long-wheelbase version as well as a panel van option. McQueen acquired this beat-up truck in the mid-70s. It was the perfect vehicle for running around on his farm and driving unnoticed. He liked classic, well-worn cars with character and the old Chevy truck was a perfect workhorse for him.

4. Cadillac Sedan DeVille

The ’49 Cadillac was an important model for the company since it introduced a new design gimmick, which started the trend of big chrome fins during the ’50s. It was one of the first fresh post-war designs and a hugely influential model with this new design craze.

With the new 331 CID V8, the ’49 Cadillac produced 160 HP. Equipped with a manual transmission, the DeVille could accelerate to 60 mph in just 12 seconds, which transformed this luxury coupe into a muscle machine. The car was available as a coupe, sedan, or convertible. This model set the standards for almost all the later models with style, grace, performance, and quality.

In his later years, McQueen turned to classic cars, bikes, and planes and at the time of his passing, he owned over 50 vehicles. One of the cars he enjoyed driving was his mint ’49 Sedan DeVille they later sold at auction.

3. GMC Series 101-8

Back in 1958, GMC made the first Fleetside truck and the construction was revolutionary in many ways. First, the truck bed looked more elegant and flush with lines of the cabin and the whole design of the truck. Second, the Fleetside allowed for the maximum width of the truck bed, thus making the truck more capable to carry the wider load. Third, its innovative construction was more durable and stronger than ever before.

The GMC Series 101 had a 336 V8 engine, updated equipment, and a higher price. Some earlier versions even featured a fiberglass bed instead of steel, which made them lighter and even faster. McQueen loved his 101 Fleetside truck since it was the fastest pickup you could buy in the late ’50s.

2. Pontiac Trans Am

The late ’70s were sad times for muscle cars because they came with diminutive horsepower ratings and heavy bodies that made the performance embarrassingly slow. The Firebird/TransAm range could not escape that, as well. The main model was the Trans Am, which came with either a 4.9-liter turbo engine or 400 NA V8. Neither of those powerplants produced more than 220 HP during its 1977 to 1981 production run. However, the main aspect was the design with its signature graphics and appearance package.

In his final film, Hunter, published in 1980, Steve McQueen drove a black Pontiac Trans Am. The rumor is that he bought the car after the shooting but his family or biographers never confirmed that. Although they thought the car was lost, it was recently found and is currently undergoing a full restoration.

1. Meyers Manx

The original Meyers Manx is a kit car based on the VW Beetle floorpan and engines. This car made a huge impact on the American off-road scene when they introduced in 1964. The Meyers Manx was the brainchild of Bruce F. Meyers, an American boat builder and surfer who wanted a dependable yet cool beach car.

By the early ’70s, they had made more than 6,000 of them. The construction was simple with a fiberglass tub they mounted on VW Beetle mechanics. The rear-wheel-drive car was light and could tackle almost any terrain.

For the beach scenes in The Thomas Crown Affair, McQueen requested a red Manx but modified it to accommodate a Corvair engine that produced significantly more power and performance. His name was never on the title of this legendary car but he modified it himself, becoming a fan of off-road driving while having it in his possession.

This was a look back at Steve McQueen’s “King of Cool” car collection. Which one was your favorite? His collection was eclectic and diverse, ranging from muscle machines and classic cars to pickups and even off-roaders. Although he was a talented actor, most people will remember McQueen for his love of cars and racing.

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