Motorcycle Classics

Book Review: McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon

As icons go, if you’re a gear head, there’s a good chance you’re also a Steve McQueen fan. From what many still say is the best car chase scene ever in the film Bullitt to the obvious bike chase scenes and that great jump everyone still remembers in The Great Escape (done by McQueen’s friend Bud Ekins), McQueen was a true fan of both bikes and cars, and his talent, whether behind the wheel of a car or aboard a bike, was impressive.

This book takes a deeper look into McQueen’s vehicles throughout his life, showing photographs, giving background info and even modern day driving impressions of some of the cars. And while it’s an enjoyable read throughout, it centers much more on his cars than it does on his bikes.

The two-wheelers are relegated mainly to one chapter (out of five), and none are road tested by the author, which is kind of disappointing. The first part of the book goes so far in depth on a handful of the cars (such as McQueen’s 1958 Porsche Speedster, which is now owned by his son, Chad McQueen), that by the time you get to the chapter on his motorcycles, you’re really looking forward to finding out who owns them and what’s being done with them today. Instead, you get some background and a few photos on a handful of the bikes (such as his 1964 Triumph TR6SC ISDT), then nothing more than small black and white photos of the rest with a little info from the catalog for McQueen’s 1984 Estate Auction.

That said, it’s still a fun read, but buy it for the info on his cars and take what you learn about his bikes as icing on the cake.

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  • Published on Feb 4, 2008
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