If Steve McQueen were alive what would he buy?
If McQueen were alive now he’d be over 80, but a contemporary car and bike obsessed racer and Hollywood totem, in the year 2014, shouldn’t be riding bikes or driving cars from the 1960s. Someone trying to emulate his cool should be looking at the best contemporary equipment, the kind of stuff that turned on a 34-year-old Steve McQueen. Machines like this.
Sherco 3.0i Race Spec
McQueen loved off-road competition and appreciated skilled riders who were straight-talking, unaffected hardmen like Bud Ekins (The Great Escape stuntman, bike shop owner and fellow ’64 ISDT rider), flat track champion Mert Lawwill and desert racing legend Malcolm Smith. One equivalent of them now is the Manxman David Knight. Knight takes part in the enduro world championship and brutal off-road events, so-called hard enduros, like the Erzberg Rodeo and Red Bull Romaniacs. Knight has just signed for Spanish company Sherco, that grew out of the famous Bultaco company. McQueen would be attracted to what the world’s best chose, while happy to go against the flow with this leftfield choice. The Sherco is rare and capable, 304cc four-stroke in a chromoly frame. It has lights for nominal road legality, but this is a pure competition machine, not a commuter. Gary Inman
Ferrari F430 Scuderia
OK, so the Scud was hardly short of technology, but for us it was the last Ferrari that truly felt like a hard-assed track homologation special. Stripped out and superbly lairy, it took all of the mechanical tech of the F1 developed trickery developed in Modena, but with added mechanical downforce and a go-faster stripe that seemed to work, we reckon our man would appreciate the balance of ridiculous V8 power, electronic aids and just enough hooligan steeze to take the edge off the fact that it couldn’t go over speed bumps. The 458. the FF and the F12 Berlinetta would have been a step of trickery too far for the man. MF
Ducati 899 Panigale
Would the star of The Thomas Crown Affair be happy putt-putting around Hollywood on the current A-list star’s bike of choice, a custom Harley, or a modern Triumph Bonneville (another product that strains every sinew in its body to be linked to the deceased actor)? Would he hell. Survey what filled his garage in the 1960s and it’s a collection of tyre-shredding muscle. So, hypothesising, what would a Tardis’d 2013 McQueen buy as a road bike to split lanes through Malibu and carve Mulholland? Perhaps a Ducati 899 Panigale. The superbike’s mid-size engine is, reputedly, more usable that the 1199 big brother, and McQueen wouldn’t have to prove his manliness by buying the full-fat Panigale. He had a soft-spot for Italian curves and Euro bikes and 148bhp should keep him amused. He might think the ABS was an affront to his skill as a rider, but he’d get over it.Gary Inman
Porsche 911 GT2 RS
As with the Scud, the Stuttgart Widowmaker would have been the Porker of choice for our notional contemporary McQueen. For a start, it’s more powerful AND lighter than the street-spec Le Mans entrant, married as it is to a twin turbo 3.6-litre motor and a modified version of ultra-hardcore chassis of the GT3 RS. To make it even more mental Porsche increased the boost of the forced induction from 1.4 to 1.6bar, squeezing another 88bhp to take the beast to 611bhp. Rear wheel drive only of course, and he’d just to have to get used to the auto paddle shift on this one. We doubt even a 2013 McQueen figure could handle stirring a box in this sort of 911. MF
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