The Star Power of Steve McQueen’s 1942 Indian Sport Scout
This 1942 Indian Sport Scout may have belonged to Steve McQueen, but it’s still a motorcycle, and motorcycles are meant to be ridden.
Steve McQueen bought this particular Sport Scout in 1975 from Indian parts and restoration legend Bob Stark, proprietor of Starklite Indian in Riverside, Calif.
Photo By Gary Phelps
1942 Indian Sport Scout
Claimed power: 22hp
Top speed: 80mph
Engine: 45ci (745cc) air-cooled sidevalve 42-degree V-twin, 2-7/8in x 3-1/2in bore and stroke, 7:1 compression ratio,
Weight: 500lb (227kg)
Fuel Capacity/MPG: 3.5gal (13.2ltr)
Price then/now: $435 (1942)/$25,000-$40,000
At their core, motorcycles are nothing but steel and rubber, gasoline and oil. It takes people to fire them to life, people to remember riding them, to share their stories and keep the fires burning. Sometimes, those individuals have a degree of notoriety, and their fame imbues a motorcycle with an aura it might not otherwise have gained.
Such is the case with just about anything ever owned by the late actor Steve McQueen, who was, among many other things, a passionate motorcyclist. Motorcycles McQueen collected have long commanded a premium, but what does his previous ownership really bring to the equation?
“McQueen was a cool cat,” says Daniel Schoenewald, current custodian of this 1942 Indian Sport Scout from McQueen’s former collection, “and the McQueen provenance certainly escalates the value, but in the end, it’s a motorcycle that was meant to be ridden, and in the 12 years I’ve owned it, it’s always been running and ready to ride.”
Bikes ready to run at a moment's notice
Ever since he was a young teen living overseas, motorcycles have been an integral part of Daniel’s life. His parents were both from Casper, Wyo., and his dad was a geologist for Mobil Oil. Born in Anaco, Venezuela, Daniel was 6 when the family moved to Tripoli, Libya.
“My first ‘bike’ was a Sears Allstate-badged Puch moped. It had belonged to my older brother’s friend and had not been running for three years,” Daniel explains. “My dad bought it for me, probably to shut me up. It hadn’t run in a while, and he had no mechanical ability or interest. His jaw dropped with surprise when he saw it running for the first time. I am sure he had no inkling that I could make it happen.”
That same year while playing in a baseball game, Daniel watched a friend of his doing donuts on an old BSA M20. He dropped his glove and walked off the field to investigate the machine. “That bike was the most amazing thing I had ever witnessed, and I wanted to be a part of this magical new world,” he recalls. “My friend’s father worked in the oil fields in the Libyan desert,” Daniel continues. “He traveled to the rigs in a DC3 that was part personnel carrier and part cargo plane. He amassed quite a few old messenger bikes that were blown up or abandoned during World War II. I became the lucky recipient of one of these and took guidance from my new mentor, Harry, known affectionately as Mr. Freeman. Thus began a lifelong passion for motorbikes; I wonder where my baseball glove is?”
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