One of the most iconic motorcycles in history is coming up for auction in October 2018. Steve McQueen’s ‘On Any Sunday’ Husqvarna 400 Cross will be for sale. Not only did the legendary actor and talented motorcycle racer compete on the Husky on film, but it was also the bike he rode shirtless for a famous Sports Illustrated magazine cover.
The 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross comes with the ownership card from the California Department of Motor Vehicles which names Solar Productions. Which was McQueen’s own film production company. And tucked away in a cavity between the engine and frame was a clear plastic case containing McQueen’s entry form for the 1970 Saddleback 500 Senior Race and an uncirculated 1960 1 cent coin, which was the birth year of McQueen’s son, Chad.
Steve McQueen famously competed in various races and competitions, including the 1964 International Six Days Trials as part of the American team that year. His biking history included a 1946 Indian Chief with sidecar, a K model Harley-Davidson used for drag racing and competing on the streets, various T120 Bonneville and TR6 Triumphs, and a Honda CR250 Elsinore.
The two-stroke Husky was used a lot by McQueen, including at the Elsinore Grand Prix. It’s referenced in the ‘McQueen’s Machines’ by Matt Stone (A handy compilation of his two and four-wheeled collection) as a 1971 Husqvarna 400CR, which McQueen often spoke of as a “405”.
“A Husqvarna 405 at about 12,000 rpm – that’s music. In bike racing, I specialize; I do rough country riding., the long-distance kind of thing. With a cycle, you’re dealing with natural terrain, you learn to read the earth… I like being out there in the desert on a set of wheels. You’re really alive out there” McQueen quoted in the book Steve McQueen: Star on Wheels by William Nolan.
Steve McQueen’s ‘On Any Sunday’ Husqvarna 400 Cross is obviously not going to sell cheaply. More than a decade ago, an ex-McQueen Triumph sold for $84,000 (just over £50,000). And that’s without appearing in On Any Sunday, and on a famous magazine cover. The estimate is £57-£77,000. But I reckon it’ll be much more
But there are also some other notable motorcycles for sale at the same event.
1949 Vincent 998cc Black Lightning At The Barber Auction
How can you overshadow a McQueen Husqvarna at auction? Well the Vincent Black Lightning is rare (only around 30 were ever built), much lusted after, and rarely on sale. But this one is even more unusual, being only the second example ever built, and with full ownership history from new. Originally ordered for Swiss NSU factory team racer Hans Starkle, it’s the earliest most original example in existence.
The most expensive and valuable motorcycle ever sold at auction was an Australian Speed Record Vincent Black Lightning sold earlier in 2018 for almost $1 million. So it’s not surprising, the estimates for this rare, original 1949 Vincent 998cc Black Lightning are well into six figures (around £310,000-£380,000 or $400,000-$500,000).
Ex Pete Johnson and Dale Quarterely 1985 Ducati-NCR 850 2 Valve
The final of a trio released to build expectation for the Bonhams auction in Alabama is this 1985 Ducati-NCR 850. Which stands out mainly because unlike most racing motorcycles, this has a well documented history spanning two continents.
It was originally a Ducati 750TT F1 sold by Steve Wunn’s Sports Motorcycles with a special factory NCR 750 engine including NCR stamped cylinder heads, unstamped crankcases, and an NCR close ratio gearbox and clutch. Purchased by American racer Pete Johnson, the engine was then put into a custom bronze welded Harris Performance frame. And then taken to Fast by Ferracci where it was bored out to 850cc by Eraldo Ferraci. It won the 1987 AMA Pro-Twins GP2 championship for Johnson, and was then bought by Ferraci whose rider Dale Quarterly won the 1988 title.
It was then sold and raced in New Zealand, before being restored and rebuilt. And now being offered for sale.
Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycles at the Barber Vintage Festival
The auction for these three iconic machines will take place during the Barber Vintage Festival, on October 6th, 2018. The full catalogue will normally appear around 4 weeks before the sale, and will doubtless contain a host of other motorcycles to drool over.
If you’re looking to sell something which is special and notable enough to raise interest, there are limited slots available. And you can order the catalogue or register to bid at the Bonhams website.