2010 Steve McQueen Metisse 650cc Desert Racer Frame no. MQN 054 Engine no. XG 43298

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Lot 190
2010 Steve McQueen Metisse 650cc Desert Racer
Frame no. MQN 054 Engine no. XG 43298

Sold for £ 11,500 (US$ 16,045) inc. premium
2010 Steve McQueen Metisse 650cc Desert Racer
Frame no. MQN 054
Engine no. XG 43298
Metisse started in 1959, and still build off-road machines today. It was half a century ago that Don & Derek Rickman developed a strong, light, elegant chassis for 500cc scrambling (known as the Mk III) which, when fitted with either a Triumph twin or AMC single, out-handled all their contemporary rivals. During the 1960s, when their New Milton, Hants, factory employed 100+ engineers and assemblers, Metisse manufactured thousands of frame kits; the same product upon which the brothers were winning at international level. It is perhaps no surprise that they attracted dozens of well-known customers, amongst them Steve McQueen, who purchased several examples into which were slotted 650cc Triumph engines that – to his personal requirement – he and Bud Ekins then modified slightly for Desert Racing.

Ultimately, the off-road scene came to be dominated by 2-strokes, by when the brothers were producing quality frames for 4-cylinder Japanese street models. Demand for Mk III chassis kits declined dramatically 1970 onwards, but the late Eighties upsurge in classic motocross prompted a brisk revival in this market. Before this renaissance occurred, however, the Rickmans had disposed of their Metisse jigs and tooling to a former customer in the West Country, Pat French, who carefully maintained the quality tradition. In 1999 French merged with another 'hands-on' craftsman and erstwhile racer, Gerry Lisi, at which point Metisse moved to Carswell, near Faringdon, where complete machines are now built, discreetly tested and despatched, within the confines of a beautifully landscaped golf club!

In 2008, Metisse concluded negotiations with the USA-based McQueen Estate for a fully approved production run of 300 Steve McQueen Desert Replicas. Manufacture commenced last year, at a rate of 3 machines per month, all identical to Steve's original model, each one finished in his distinctive favourite colour of battleship grey. Engines are single carburettor TR6 type, which have undergone a scheduled reconstruction by a Triumph specialist, likewise the 4-speed transmission; the 71mm x 82mm motor produces 47 bhp at 6700rpm. McQueen's modifications, which distinguish the Desert Racer from a stock MK III, are totally functional: Ceriani type forks mounted in BSA yokes, a single sided Triumph front hub – whose rim wears a trials pattern tyre – and box section footrests.

Incidentally the first Metisse to have been completed for this project was acquired by McQueen's son Chad. Metisse also confirmeed that the Rickman Bros, who play golf at Carswell, were of considerable help in determining the final spec, a task with which McQueen had originally involved them in. Metisse Desert Racer No: 54, which is on offer as the result of a cancelled order, provides a unique opportunity to 'jump the waiting list' and secure an as new machine at a preferential price! Supplied with numbered factory Certificate.
2010 Steve McQueen Metisse 650cc Desert Racer Frame no. MQN 054 Engine no. XG 43298
2010 Steve McQueen Metisse 650cc Desert Racer Frame no. MQN 054 Engine no. XG 43298
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