Steve McQueen Speed Twin sets record

Steve McQueen 1938 Triumph Speed Twin

Steve McQueen continues to set motorcycle records 38 years after his death with his Triumph Speed Twin fetching the highest price ever paid for that model at auction.

The 1938 Triumph 5T Speed Twin 500 was estimated to fetch up to $US65,000 (about $A91,000), but sold at the Bonham’s annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction for $175,500 ($A245,000), almost three times as much.

When the hammer fell and the King of Cool’s ride set a new world auction record, the audience erupted in cheers and applause.

Steve McQueen 1938 Triumph Speed Twin

Triumph and McQueen

The Hollywood star had a long association with Triumph having ridden a TR6 in The Great Escape and the 1964 International Six Day Trial, representing the USA.

Steve McQueen in The Great Escape TR6
Steve McQueen in The Great Escape

His Speed Twin was restored by friend and fellow ISDT team member Bud Ekins in the mid to late 1970s.

It’s not the most expensive motorcycle sold at auction. That honour also once belonged to a Steve McQueen bike.

His 1915 Cyclone sold at a 2015 Las Vegas Mecum auction for almost $A1 million.

Steve McQueen's Cyclone -
Steve McQueen’s Cyclone

However, that record was beaten on Australia Day 2018 when a 1951 Vincent Black Lightning on which Jack Ehret set an Australian speed record was bought at the Bonham’s annual Las Vegas motorcycle auction for a record $US929,000 ($A1,155,000, €748,500) by an unknown collector who is returning the bike to Australia.

Jack Ehret's Vincent Black Lightning collection valuable - speed twin
Jack Ehret’s Vincent Black Lightning

Bonham’s highlights

Another highlight of this year’s Bonham’s Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction was a 1993 Ducati Supermono, one of just 67 made.

It was tipped to fetch up to $125,000 (about $A177,000), but was bought fora bargain $115,000 ($A160,000).

Ducati Supermono speed twin

Another highlight that turned out to sell for a bargain price was a 1916 Harley-Davidson Model F that sat untouched for many decades and still includes a period front tyre.

It was parked indoors many years ago in indoor storage and was recently discovered by American TV car restorer Wayne Carini, host of the Chasing Classic Cars TV series which featured the Harley in one episode.

The Harley was expected to fetch bids up to $100,000 (about $A140,000), but went for just $34,500 ($A48,000).

Harley-Davidson Model F speed twin

Meanwhile, a 1974 Munch Mammoth TTS, known as the world’s first superbike, made $112,000 ($A156,000).

For complete results, please visit Bonhams.com/Vegas. Their next big auction is the Grand Palais motoring sale in Paris next week.

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