Book Review - McQueen?s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon

By Pete Dunton

Many car nuts have taken a liking to a given car after it has been on the big screen or on TV. The Bullitt 1968 Mustang, the Smokey and the Bandit 1977 Pontiac (SE) Trans Am, the Dukes of Hazzard 1969 Dodge Charger, the Knight Rider (modified) 1982 Trans Am (K.I.T.T.), etc. are some examples of famous cars from this media that even the most inept would immediately recognize. The funny thing is that most actors, who drive these famous cars in the movies or on TV, generally are not car nuts. They play a part and play it well. For instance could you see David Hasselhoff owning a K.I.T.T. replica? Or how about the Hoff changing the oil or doing a brake job on a 1982 Trans Am? I think not. However for the many stars who drive hot cars in the movies and/or TV, there are a small select few that are real true car fanatics. One of the furthermost fanatics would have to be Steve McQueen. Steve not only loved cars and motorcycles ? he raced them, worked on them, and even modified them.

Matt Stone an executive editor from Motor Trend magazine, has recently released a new book called McQueen?s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon. This hardcover book is a must read for any Steve McQueen fan and a recommended read for any gearhead. When reading the book it becomes apparent that Chad McQueen the son of the late Steve McQueen assisted in the endeavor of making this book.

What Matt Stone gives you in this book is a full view for how cars and motorcycles were a central part of McQueen?s life. This love of fast moving machinery was obviously passed down to his son Chad. There is even a picture in the book of Chad driving a 2001 Mustang Bullitt GT catching air on the same San Francisco streets his father had done the same deed with a hopped-up 1968 Mustang for the movie - Bullitt. Any car or motorcycle fan would enjoy the book even if it had no text, since the book is loaded with so many great pictures. There are even rare photos showing Steve McQueen next to his trusty old Ford pickup trucks relegated to work duty on his ranches. One photo even shows a bearded McQueen who looked more like Grizzly Adams than a Hollywood star standing next to one of these pickups.

The book covers in detail McQueen?s cars including his favorite Porsches, 1953 Hudson Hornet, 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible with factory fuel injection, and so many other great cars. McQueen?s favorite motorcycles are also covered in good detail in the book.

Stone could have just left the book as a catalog of all Steve McQueen?s cars and motorcycles but he took the difficult route and decided to also cover the many cars that McQueen drove in his different movie roles. For instance such cars as The Thomas Crown Affair Rolls Royce, the Bullitt 1968 Mustang, the Porsche 911 from Le Mans, The Hunter 1979 Trans Am, and many others are covered in the book. To go with the showcasing of these movie cars is a breakdown of some of the behind the scenes and stunt information associated with these different cars. For Bullitt fans, there is a plethora of behind the scenes information revealed related to what can only be called the greatest chase scene in movie history (a 390 CID V8 powered 1968 Mustang fastback vs. a 440 CID V8 1968 Charger R/T).

And as one would assume, the information about the greatest motorcycle jump in the history of cinema is also covered in this book. The Great Escape motorcycle jump that McQueen?s character made across a barbed wire fence is explained in detail.

Not forgetting one of McQueen?s favorite pastimes, covered in the book is his professional racing career. The highlight of which was the 1970 Sebring race where McQueen came in a very close second place to the great Mario Andretti.

The author - Stone does a great job of covering the many aspects of McQueen?s machinery in his book. It is a very well written book that keeps the reader entertained through the book?s entirety. In fact you?ll find this book will be hard to put down once you start reading.

One thing?s for sure the man himself ? Steve McQueen may no longer be around (having succumbed to cancer in 1980) to enjoy automobiles, motorcycles, and racing but his spirit lives on. Stone?s book helps the reader gain a real awareness of the many facets to McQueen?s love of cars and motorcycles.