The Yellow Winton Flyer

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Lot 261
The Yellow Winton Flyer

Sold for US$ 117,000 inc. premium
The Yellow Winton Flyer
“The Reivers”, based on William Faulkner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was a departure from Steve McQueen’s typical action/adventure films. While McQueen played the starring role of Boon Hogganbeck – earning a Golden Globe Best Actor nomination for the uncharacteristic part – many felt the real star of “The Reivers” was the Winton Flyer that carried Hogganbeck, his young protégé Lucius (played by 13 year old Mitch Vogel) and stowaway Ned McCaslin (Rupert Crosse, nominated for an Oscar for this role) across Mississippi to the big city of Memphis.

In some markets, in fact, the movie is titled “Yellow Winton Flyer”.

Steve McQueen, whose Solar Productions was instrumental in the production of “The Reivers”, turned to his friend Von Dutch to construct the movie car. The Winton Flyer had to combine four-passenger capacity and 1904 appearance with the practical requirements of strength and reliability that the shooting schedule demanded. It was an assignment particularly appropriate to the whimsical Dutch, who applied his peculiar brand of tongue-in-cheek style with his highly developed skill at creating functional mechanical gizmos. The resulting Yellow Winton Flyer looks, acts, rides and shakes like the 18 horsepower 1904 touring car it’s supposed to be.

In abundant close-ups that focus closely upon details Von Dutch succeeded in maintaining the fiction much more closely than is common in film cars. From the carefully engine-turned sheet brass “Winton Flyer” on the radiator, through the controls, to the rear axle and bodywork, his Yellow Winton Flyer looks the part. It does it, too, with brilliant Von Dutch coachlining, pinstriping and painted details that highlight the lighthearted, freewheeling attitude of the movie and its setting in rural Mississippi and Memphis at the turn of the century.

The Yellow Winton Flyer features in nearly every scene of the movie (at least the ones that take place outside a boudoir or jail); Steve McQueen called it “the real star of the picture.”

Following the movie’s release in 1969 McQueen kept the Yellow Winton Flyer. It was part of his extensive collection of automobiles and motorcycles that was auctioned at the Imperial Palace in November 1984 after his untimely death and it has been carefully maintained since.

It is, as far as is known, the only Winton Flyer created for “The Reivers” and its survival through some pretty ambitious driving through fields and muddy sloughs conclusively demonstrates its reliability and solid construction. A unique automobile that combines the whimsy, skill and creativity of Von Dutch with the reckless enthusiasm which characterized Steve McQueen both in person and in his movie roles, it stands by itself. Now over 35 years old, the Winton Flyer is an antique in its own right. It was created by Von Dutch, one of the recognized geniuses of Southern California’s car culture. It was built for Steven McQueen, the creative, individualistic, free spirit whose personality and the film roles he played shaped popular culture in the Sixties and Seventies.

Saleroom notices

  • Added Lot: The Yellow Winton Flyer $100,000-150,000
The Yellow Winton Flyer
The Yellow Winton Flyer
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