Books and songs have been written about Steve McQueen, Ford resurrected the actor’s likeness for TV commercials, and now his sexy, manly image has its own name: the “Steve McQueen effect.”
The term was coined by car aficionados for the value McQueen’s name adds to vehicles he’s driven or owned. McQueen’s influence was apparent at the recent Monterey Car Week, where his 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 sold for more than $10 million. The car, delivered to the San Francisco set of McQueen’s iconic movie Bullitt, was initially valued at about $3 million (sans the McQueen effect, of course). The car saw many changes after it left McQueen’s possession, including having its roof chopped off, but the Ferrari factory helped bring it back in line with the original design.
The 275 GTB/4 was actually McQueen’s second choice for a Ferrari; he initially bought a convertible 275 GTB/4NART Spider driven by Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair, the classic caper film the actor also starred in. But McQueen, and the Spider, were rear-ended on PCH just days after McQueen took ownership of it. Instead of paying for costly repairs, McQueen bought the hard-top GTB/4 (though the Spider convertible is valued for much more; one sold for $27.5 million last year).
The actor also inadvertently worked his magic on his 1968 Ford GT40 race car — featured in the 1971 racing movie Le Mans — which sold for $11 million at the 2012 Monterey Car Week, becoming the most ever shelled out for a Ford vehicle. Like the Ferrari, the Ford would only have fetched about $3 million without McQueen’s name attached. Another car featured in Le Mans, a 1970 Porsche 911S, sold at a 2011 auction for $1.375 million, almost 20 times its value, according to the Hagerty Price Guide. McQueen’s 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso nabbed $2.3 million at Monterey in ’07, more than double its value.
McQueen’s car connection extended this summer to his own car and motorcycle show in Chino Hills. The event’s theme centered around The Thomas Crown Affair and proceeds went to the Boys Republic, a Chino school for troubled teens that McQueen was a lifelong supporter of.
Photograph by Louis Galanos via Flickr