Steve McQueen had a passion for cars, bikes and speed. Aside from his most iconic vehicle, the Highland Green Mustang GT from Bullitt, McQueen’s vehicle of choice was his 1957 Jaguar D-type XK-SS.
He first saw the car on a Studio lot off Sunset Blvd., in 1958. He was instantly smitten and paid the owner $5,0000 for it. His love of cars and bikes carried on throughout his life (hence Le Mans), though surprisingly he only carried out a tenth of the driving seen in the famous car chase in Bullitt.
After his success with The Towering Inferno in 1974, McQueen took time out to travel around the country in a motorhome, riding motorcycles across different parts of the country.
McQueen had been the ideal casting for John Frankenheimer’s classic film Grand Prix, until he clashed with Frankenheimer’s business partner, and the role went to James Garner.
In fact there were a lot of roles McQueen knocked back during his career, including Dirty Harry, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (lawyers and agents couldn’t agreeing on who got top billing, McQueen or Newman), The Driver (another obvious choice); The French Connection, and even Close Encounters of the Third Kind (he told Spielberg he couldn’t cry on cue). Sadly, one of his best performances in the adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play, An Enemy of the People (1978), was barely released and has languished ever since. Producers hated the way McQueen looked in the title role - he was bearded and overweight. Tragically McQueen died too soon in 1980 - he was just fifty - and in 1984, his beloved XK-SS was sold at auction for a reported for $148,000.