The ex-Steve Mcqueen, Bud Ekins modified, Von Dutch painted
1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled
Frame no. DU1683
It was natural that Bud Ekins and Steve McQueen would become close friends, because they had so much in common. Some thought that McQueen wanted to be Ekins. Both came from humble backgrounds, both did time in institutions serving wayward youth, both had a love of motorcycles that led to each being inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame and both reached the top of their professions.
It all began when a young star from a TV cowboy show appeared at Ekins Triumph dealership in the San Fernando Valley at the end of the 1950s. When Steve McQueen bought a Triumph 500 scrambler, Ekins, then the absolute master of Southern California off-road motorcycle racing, coached McQueen in bike control on the desert washes and fire trails of the area. McQueen, in turn, got Ekins stuntman jobs in the film industry. When the two worked together on The Great Escape, Ekins doubled for McQueen on the famous fence-jumping scene. Ekins also competed that year in the International Six Days Trial, then known as the Olympics of motorcycling, because national teams competed against each other. The next year, partially financed by McQueen, Ekins, his brother Dave, McQueen and Cliff Coleman were the first full American Vase team to contest the ISDT. Dave and Coleman both won gold medals, the highest individual honor. As McQueen and Ekins matured, their attention turned to vintage motorcycles and each had a collection of over 100 bikes. Ekins maintained McQueens bikes until the actors death in 1980.
The offered motorcycle is a tangible artifact of the long-standing friendship between Ekins and McQueen. Bud Ekins built this bike for cow trailing and desert racing. Serial numbers indicate it was built up from a 1963 Triumph Bonneville. Steve and Buds friend, Kenny Howard, better known as Von Dutch, painted the bike. Because of the motorcycles intended use, it was given a plain paint job, devoid of Dutchs trademark pin stripes. No sense having beautiful striping sandblasted by full throttle desert runs, or scraped off in a fall. The bike comes with a 1971 title to Solar Productions, McQueens production company that made among other movies, the racing classic, Le Mans. The title bears Steve McQueens signature.
This is a rare opportunity to own a motorcycle ridden by the King of Cool and built by a man who knew Triumphs as well as anyone and who used them to win the ultra-competitive AMA District 37 championships for seven years. The fact that Von Dutchs name is also attached to the bike adds even more to its provenance.