Steve McQueen, Mike Wolfe, and the Husky 400

April 20th, 2011

When some people think “motorcycles,” the first name that comes to many minds is Mike Wolfe, the co-host of “American Pickers” who’s made no secret of his love of just about anything on two wheels. But even Mike would probably agree that the name that’s even more closely associated with motorcycles is Steve McQueen.

On May 14, 2011, Bonhams will offer one of McQueen’s bikes in an auction of motorcycles and motorcycle memorabilia in Carmel, California. The marquee McQueen bike that’s up for grabs is a 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross, which was popularized in the Bruce Brown film, “On Any Sunday.”

According to Bonhams, “McQueen’s Husqvarna 400 Cross was the latest in a line of big-bore motocross models that combines fearsome power and superb handling. Up to that point, many off-road riders endured heavier, twin-cylinder street models stripped and lightened as much as possible; even so, they were leaden and cumbersome.

“Along came the two-stroke Husky 400 Cross, featuring a breathtakingly lusty single-cylinder engine suspended in a lightweight steel frame. This was the period before plastics, so the Husky presented a sculpted aluminum fuel tank with a polished section to help reduce marring where the rider meets the bike. The polished/bright-red combination became an iconic symbol for motocross bikes of the 1970s.

“The Husky 400 Cross was a brutal, unforgiving motorcycle, difficult to ride well, which McQueen absolutely did. It embodies McQueen’s desire to be taken seriously as a rider and racer. His mastery of the Husky only helps fuel his legend.”

How much for all this history and the McQueen provenance? The pre-auction estimate is between $50,000 and $70,000.

3 comments so far

  1. armedhippy Says:

    Mike is far less knowledgeable than many of us in this field, he is far from the icon you paint him as.

  2. bill farrell Says:

    icon.? not quite, but he is carrying forth something most of us have dropped..power to him!
    the balloon tire bicycle boom started in chicago in the late 70’s into the 80-‘s and then began to wind down. at one time I had the largest collection of bikes in chicago, over 250 of the best of the best.! we scoured phone books and old shops for the smallest inventory. Literally tons of old bike parts were found in this city by those early collectors…i remember we all went by a ‘handle’,…. Eddie wheeler, the Professor, swimming pool Ed, the Fireman,…and a dozen or so more. it was a ball! i should write a book on all those great guys and weird experiences..!!! but i’ll just watch the “pickers’…
    who by the way operate just 30 miles from my garage.!

  3. herrick9 Says:

    To compare a virtual “Johnny come Lately” to the film icon and go-fast guy, Steve McQueen is well…. ludicrous….
    McQueen embodied not only film but in real life a zest for the go-fast whether it was autos or motorcycles….Matt Stone captures it best in his latest book but for a quick snapshot of what McQueen owned and what his estate sold these items for GO Here:

    Yup, Mike has a ways to go…a very long way…

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