The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319

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Lot 100
The ex-Steve McQueen, 1971 Husqvarna 250 Cross
Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319
US$ 50,000 - 60,000
£ 38,000 - 45,000

Lot Details
The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319 The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319 The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319 The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319 The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319 The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319 The ex-Steve McQueen, 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross Frame no. MI 4473 Engine no. 254319
The ex-Steve McQueen
1971 Husqvarna 250 Cross
Frame no. MI 4473
Engine no. 254319
• Formerly owned by actor/racer Steve McQueen
• Documentation via DMV paperwork and invoice
• Older restoration to largely stock condition
• Recent service by Husqvarna expert

Credit for introducing the sport of motocross to America goes to one motorcycle and one rider. In 1966 reigning 250cc World Motocross Champion Torsten Hallman flew from his native Sweden to the U.S., where he plucked a stock 250 Cross from a batch of 75 new Husqvarnas that had been sent to the fledgling American distributor. The plan was for Hallman to tour the country, enter races, hopefully playing up the bike's good points and driving customers to the nearest Husky shop.

At the time there was no such thing as European-style motocross in the U.S. We had what were called "rough scrambles" courses, basically long TT tracks with ruts and a few more jumps thrown in. Says Hallman of that first stateside foray, "At the time the sport was unknown in the United States, nobody knew anything about motocross. I had to spell the word 'motocross' every time I told someone what I was doing."

Soon that wouldn't be a problem. During his two-month stay, Hallman entered nine races – a total of 23 heats – and won them all, sometimes lapping the entire field! At the Hopetown Grand Prix, the biggest off-road race on the West Coast, Hallman bested 800 entrants on his way to the checkers. His smooth riding style, and the Husqvarna's light weight and punchy two-stroke motor were an unbeatable combination.

"He made the bike look like it was floating," says Mark Blackwell, who would go on to win the U.S. 500cc championship in 1971. "The top American riders, who couldn't keep him in sight, looked like they were riding on the ragged edge of disaster – they looked like they were going fast; he looked like he was going very slow."

For his work introducing motocross to America, Hallman was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2000, though his 37 GP wins, four world titles and founding of the highly successful Thor line of off-road riding gear didn't hurt either.

One rider who took notice of Hallman's performance in '66 was Malcolm Smith, a Greeves racer who had previously considered the Husqvarna too spindly for rough riding in the California desert. Soon Smith would become synonymous with the Husky brand, winning eight gold medals in ISDT competition plus numerous Baja 1000 and 500 victories, on his way to general acclaim as one of the world's best all-around off-road riders. Smith and his Husqvarna were also featured in everyone's all-time favorite motorcycle movie, On Any Sunday, which in no small way also fueled the popularity of dirtbikes in America.

Smith shared screen time in the movie with actor Steve McQueen, at the time Hollywood's biggest box-office draw, but also an accomplished off-roader good enough to finish 10th overall in the Elsinore Grand Prix. McQueen financed the making of On Any Sunday through his Solar Productions company simply because he wanted motorcyclists portrayed accurately. "Most bike flicks in the past concentrated on the outlaw crap," McQueen told Sports Illustrated in 1971. "Hell's Angels and all of that stuff, which is about as far away from the real world of motorcycle racing as I am from Lionel Barrymore. Brando's movie The Wild One in the early 1950s set motorcycle racing back about 200 years."

In what may be the best product placement ever, the cover of that issue of SI showed a shirtless McQueen wheelying his Husqvarna 400 Cross through the wilds of the Mojave Desert. Previously a Triumph 650 desert sled fan who honed his riding skills under the tutelage of the great Bud Ekins, McQueen was a quick convert to the lighter, nimbler, superior-handling two-strokes. From then until his untimely death in 1980, he always kept a brace of Husqvarnas at the ready.

This 250 Cross was one of them, bought new by McQueen in 1971. Like most of his vehicles, it was purchased through Solar Productions, as attested to by a Transfer of Interest notice from Husqvarna distributor Med-International to the California DMV, plus a Manufacturer's Statement of Origin signed by Export Manager Edison Dye transferring ownership to "Solar Productions/Steve McQueen." Those documents will be included in the sale, as will a Med-International invoice for the $898 cost of the bike, which includes a typed notation, "Ship to Valerian's for Steve to have picked up," referring to McQueen's favorite Husky shop in Los Angeles. Serial numbers listed on all of these documents correspond to the stampings on the motorcycle.

At some point in its post-McQueen existence the Cross was restored, though in the several times it has changed hands since, the details of who did the work and when have been lost. It's not known, for instance, if the painted plastic fenders are holdovers from McQueen or were added later. The bike has seen some light use in the ensuing years and shows a few paint nicks and scuffs. Recently serviced, the Husqvarna starts and runs, and is ready for even more action – something which the originally owner, no doubt, would heartily approve.

Footnotes

  • Offered on a Bill of Sale. As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
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