Steve McQueen liked camping. There, we said it. Notorious petrolhead, icon of the silver screen, actual racing driver and fond of the occasional smoke. Yes, this man, the iceman of cinema himself, enjoyed camping. And we know this harrowing fact because his old camper van has come up for sale.
It’s being offered up as part of a celebrity smorgasbord of stuff and trinketry, including an old Baja truck owned by McQueen, and the green thing above, his beloved 1952 Chevrolet 300 Series Custom Camper; a car he bought on the spot immediately after driving past it.
“I remember one time we drove past a migrant farm worker who had this bitchin’ old truck,” notes Barbara Minty McQueen, his wife, “and Steve turned the car around and wrote him a cheque on the spot. He bought a plane or two that way, too.”
McQueen was apparently attracted to this particular van because of its grille, bonnet and custom stylings. Underneath, we’re told it’s got a straight-six engine, four-speed gearbox, one-off aluminium sleeper section, 5-gallon fuel tanks on running boards, and a driver’s side spotlight.
It’s also, sadly, tied into McQueen’s darker history, because this was the van he used to drive himself to the airport, from where he would catch a flight to Mexico for cancer surgery; a surgery he would not recover from, as he passed away just days later.
Still, it’s quite an odd piece compared to the usual McQueenmobilia. Don’t forget, he used to own a seriously cool and seriously green Porsche 911, a GT40 for his movie Le Mans, owned a Hudson Hornet, ‘56 GMC Suburban, ‘31 Lincoln Club Sedan, 1940s Willys Jeep and a 1935 Chrysler Airflow Imperial Sedan. He also owned many, many motorcycles.
Elsewhere in the “Mecum Celebrity Items Auction: Celebrating the Legendary History of Hollywood”, held in California between 26-27 July, there’s Frank Sinatra’s old Jaguar XJS - you want it - and Elvis Presley’s custom Cadillac, along with Le Mans movie posters, a Schuey-signed Ferrari pic and, um, Jessica Alba’s bikini from Into The Blue.