Friday, March 10, 2017

McQueen's Motorcycles, by Matt Stone, book review

1st impression: instead of a complete look at his bikes and bike collection, it's a mixed bag of what he rode in movies and at a couple races. Instead of what I wanted from the book, I got a thorough look at the 1964 ISDT International Six Days Trial.

Hell, why not just thoroughly cover the already exhaustively covered Great Escape bike and scenes? Oh, yeah, they beat that horse to death too.

Maybe it's my mistaken idea that McQueens Machines was going to be focused on the bikes he owned in such great amount that the 1984 Las Vegas Estate Sale Auction catalog had over 523 items for sale, and over 46 pages. How many were motorbikes, I don't know. It did include cars and trucks. But that was after Steve gave away a dozen or two when he realized cancer was going to kill him, and he gave some to his son, some to Bud Ekins, at least one to Von Dutch. You might assume he gave some others to riding friends who went out with him at the Mint 400, Lake Elsinore race, and the weekend rides in the desert near his Palm Springs place. (4 bedroom place, 4 car garage, just sold for 3.5M)

And I sure didn't think that commercial endeavors of his son, and Metisse, and Triumph, to sell Steve McQueen licensed bikes would take up several pages. (instead of more of his hundreds of motorcycles) I was wrong.

So, lets take a look at the numbers

about 150 pages, including Forward and Introduction.
7 chapters, and one was a damn fine example of what a team mate of his during the ISDT had to say.
Chapter 2 is the Great Escape. Do you really need to real that? Nope. You're as much of an expert as anyone on the topic I bet.... it's been discussed so damn much in the past 30 years I really wish we could move on and talk about the other bikes he owned
By chapter 4 you've only seen 7 different bikes he rode
in Chapter 4 alone you see 11 different bikes.
But half of chapter 5 is about Mert Lawlill. Exactly. Lucky SOB was there for breakfast with Steve and Natalie Wood, damn. Well, the chapter was about Any Given Sunday... and if you've seen the movie, there isn't much to say to fill a chapter of a book. Not with stuff you already don't know. Steve pulled some strings to get permission to ride on the beach of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendelton, and that didn't take him much effort.... for anyone else it would have been impossible.
Chapter 6 finally gets to the reason I bet most people expected this book to be the 1st last and only book they'll ever want on the topic of Steve's many motorbikes. There are 12 more bikes in Chapter 6. Plus scans of 3 pages of the 1984 Estate Auction catalog
Chapter 7 has 14 more bikes.
So... how many bikes does this book feature? about 4 dozen.
How many have I decently to extensively photographed and featured here? One dozen.

Things I learned from this book:
Bud Ekins' brother Dave was the 1st to ride a motorcycle on the TJ to La Paz run, on a Honda
Bud Ekins also spent time in a boys home, just like Steve did.
Before Steve was a full time actor, he was among other things, a motorcycle mechanic (according to actor Martin Landau) and worked on James Dean's motorbike
Bell Helmets was a sponsor of the American team tot he ISDT in '64, and Von Dutch striped them
to this day, there has still been  no USA team to win the ISDT gold.
Steve did advertising for Honda, but only in Japan (1971)

Steve did an article for Popular Mechanics, and tested/reviewed 5 motorcycles

They were a Honda, a BSA, Norton, Greeves, Triumph, and Montessa

Steve had a 1917 Harley Davidson, and when it was bought by the Wheels Through Time museum, they later found a Signet Wagon that was eventually decided to be put together with Steve's former bike... and the brackets missing from the Signet were found on Steve's bike. Whoa.

In the catalog from the 1984 Estate auction, the XK SS Jag was sold, as was the Winton Flyer, and among other vehicles I haven't seen turn up as "Previously Owned By" a 1931 Lincoln Club Sedan and a 1946 Willys Jeep  the last Ebayed catalog went for about 100 bucks. I just wish someone would have scanned the damn thing and made it available online to look through

and this Husqvarna was found on Ebay, and snapped right up, but it too belonged to Steve McQueen
How or why the seller wasn't capitalizing on Steve's prior ownership is not mentioned anywhere

you can get a sample read of it, the Forward and introduction at

or the Google Books preview

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