Steve McQueen sells, Evel Knievel doesn’t

Steve McQueen’s 1963 Triumph Bonnveille “Desert Sled”

The star power of Hollywood legend and motorbike racer Steve McQueen has again been proved with a Triumph Bonneville called the “Desert Sled” selling at auction for $US103,000.

In 2009, the Desert Sled sold at Bonhams & Butterfields’ first motorcycle and memorabilia auction for $84,240, yielding a good return for seller Larry Bowman, a prominent California collector.

The “Desert Sled” was modified by friend Bud Ekins who did the famous jump in The Great Escape and McQueen rode it in the desert racing scenes of the iconic 1971 film On Any Sunday.

It seems a bike once owned by McQueen is a good investment. Last year, a 1915 Cyclone board tracker motorcycle he owned sold for just a few dollars short of $1 million.

Steve McQueen's Cyclone
Steve McQueen’s Cyclone

Meanwhile, famed stuntman Evel Knievel doesn’t seem to have the same star power as McQueen.

1976 Harley-Davidson XL 1000 made especially for the 1977 Hollywood movie, Viva Knievel, was passed in at the Bonhams Las Vegas auction and a “Stratocycle” from the same movie was passed in at a September auction where it was expected to fetch up to $300,000.

This week’s Bonhams auction achieved a total of $5.3 million at Bally’s Hotel and Casino, led by a rare 1951 Vincent Series C ‘Red’ White Shadow that fetched $US434,000 and a 1955 Vincent Series D Black Prince that sold for $164,500.

They were followed by four Black Shadows: a 1948 Vincent 998cc Series B Black Shadow, $153,500; a 1953 Vincent 998cc Series C Black Shadow, $140,000; a 1951 Vincent 998cc Series C “Big Sid” Black Shadow,  $137,000; and a 1954 Vincent 998cc Series C Black Shadow, $126,000.


  1. I don’t know that being owned by steve McQueen matters so much
    as the cyclone being a work of art what a beautiful and rare machine
    It’s great the likes of McQueen preserved machines like this
    The ‘strotocycle’ however must be one of the ugliest things i have
    ever seen. Even if it does have one of my favourite cartoon characters
    Foghorn Leghorn on the fairing

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