We can think of no other Hollywood icon that’s as closely associated with awesome cars (and car movies in general) than Steve McQueen. And since his birthday is March 24, we wanted to take a look at our five favorite rides that carried McQueen to stardom during his sadly brief film career.
But let’s be honest: You probably already know which five we’re going to talk about. Here they are anyway though, in no particular order.
1. 1904 Winton Flyer, The Reivers (1969)
Perhaps the most under-the-radar McQueen film, this one (of course) centers around a car. In fact, it’s said that the Flyer was visible in every single outdoor scene. Though this particular 1904 Flyer wasn’t a real factory model, it was designed by Hollywood icon Von Dutch and perfectly emulates a car from the Brass Era—which was good because it got plenty of close-ups.
2. 1968 Ford Mustang, Bullitt (1968)
Well duh, we’re going to talk about the Mustang. It’s the hero car of one of the greatest chase scenes ever and has become so iconic that it’s spawned several Bullitt special edition Mustang models. Oh, and thanks to its Torq-Thrust wheels, the Mustang doesn’t suffer the infamy of losing eight hubcaps in a single car chase, like its nemesis the Charger.
3. Meyers Manx Dune Buggy, The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
Who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy watching McQueen storm the beaches with Faye Dunaway in a Meyers Manx? While the Manx is no stranger to modifications, we’re particularly big fans of the one from the film, thanks to its flat-six poached from a Chevy Corvair and a chopped windshield. (The actual buggy used in the movie recently sold at auction for close to $500K, in case you were in the market.)
4. 1970 Porsche 917 Race Car #20, Le Mans (1970)
Is there such a thing as a quad-fecta? Legendary actor, in a legendary race car, wearing legendary livery, in a legendary movie? What else needs to be said here other than, if you haven’t watched Le Mans yet, do it. It’s a legal—nay, moral—obligation for every gearhead.
5. 1962 Triumph TR6R, The Great Escape (1963)
Ironically, the greatest motorcycle jump in movie history wasn’t actually performed by McQueen, instead it was handled by stuntman Bud Ekin. But that’s probably because the film’s insurance company wouldn’t let McQueen do it himself. McQueen was riding this classic Brit P-Twin in pretty much every other scene though.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Should one of these been bumped in favor of the Husqvarna 400 Cross from On Any Sunday? Does The French Connection have a better car chase than Bullitt? Let us know in the comments below!