Steve McQueen’s one of a kind Von Dutch 1929 Scott 596cc Super Squirrel motorcycle is up for auction.
The McQueen fan and motorcycle enthusiast will want to bid on the ex-Steve McQueen, Von Dutch1929 Scott 596cc Super Squirrel Engine no. Y2373A. Produced by the Scott Motorcycle Company, the present motorcycle is not only a fine example of one of the most technologically advanced machines of its day, but it was restored, painted and pin striped in the 1970s by the legendary Kenny “Von Dutch” Howard.
The bike features the infamous Von Dutch ‘flying eyeball’ logo affixed in cloisonné to the toolbox, while the Scott logos are all hand-painted and finished in gold leaf. A unique feature of the bike is that Von Dutch mistakenly lettered the date on the front number plate ‘1926’ instead of the correct ‘1929.’
(top left, clockwise) Number plate erroneously dated ‘1926’; Cloisonne “Flying Eyeball’
Von Dutch Logo; Scott Motorcycle branded fuel tank; revolutionary two-stroke Scott motor.
Having recognized the historical and artistic significance of this motorcycle, prior to his death, Steve McQueen gifted the bike back to Von Dutch so that he may personally own his masterpiece. Following its sale by Von Dutch to a collector in California, the bike came full circle when it was purchased (and now consigned for sale in the present auction) by Tonny Sorensen, owner of the Von Dutch clothing company.
Until recently the bike was on display at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame as part of the “MotStars: Celebrities + Motorcycles” exhibit.
The engine was recently overhauled, featuring new bearings,
pistons and a re-bore, plus the crankshaft and cylinders refurbished by famous Scott specialist Roger Moss.
Estimate: $80,000 – $120,000
Also offered in the June sale is Steve McQueen’s International Driver’s License, No.
Z 6285. It was issued to Steve McQueen by the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM). The license is stamped and dated 1964, signed by Steve McQueen and is accompanied by a letter of authentication from Neile McQueen Toffel, Steve McQueen’s wife in 1964 when the license was issued.
Steve McQueen’s International License from the 1964 ISDT, was sold by Neile McQueen Toffel. It is undoubtedly one of
the most significant and personal pieces of McQueen motorcycle-related property to be offered at auction.
Estimate: $ 15,000 USD – $ 25,000 USD
Auction: June 11, 2009
First Session: 11 am
Second Session: 2pm
New York Preview:
The New York TimeZone
595 Madison Avenue, 5th fl.
New York, NY 10022, USA
Tel: +1 212 750 1103
Sunday, June 7: 2 pm – 7pm
Monday, June 8: 10 am – 6:30 pm
Tuesday, June 9: 10 am – 6: 30 pm
Wednesday, June 10: 10 am – 6:30 pm
Thursday, June 11: from 9 am
Steve McQueen was an avid motorcyclist and supporter of the sport. McQueen’s unabashed enthusiasm for motorcycling did wonders for the image of the sport during a time when the general public often looked at motorcyclists with disdain. McQueen raced in many of the top off-road races on the West Coast during the ‘60s and
early 1970s. McQueen dreamed up perhaps the most famous motorcycle jump ever filmed when shooting the movie ‘The Great Escape’ in Germany. He called good friend Bud Ekins over to be his stunt double to shoot the
climactic motorcycle jump in which McQueen’s character was trying to escape German soldiers by motorcycle during World War II. McQueen became so closely associated with motorcycling that Popular Science had him write a series of motorcycle reviews for that magazine.
In the early 1970s, movie producer Bruce Brown approached McQueen about helping him finance a documentary movie on motorcycling. McQueen, fully knowing that he would probably never profit from this type of film, nevertheless agreed to back Brown. The movie he financed turned out to be the classic ‘On Any Sunday,’ not only the best motorcycle movie of its time, but also a commercial success. McQueen became interested in collecting motorcycles and the bulk of his collection in the mid to late 1970s was older, historically significant motorcycles. McQueen collected the bikes he wanted to own without regard to popularity or future values, he was neither a showoff nor speculator. It is for this reason that motorcyclists the world over have come to admire and deeply respect Steve McQueen.
While filming the movie ‘The Great Escape’ in Germany, Steve McQueen and his friend and stunt double Bud Ekins took a break to watch the International Six Days Trial (ISDT) that was taking place in Germany. Two years later, in September of 1964, Steve McQueen (together with Bud and Dave Ekins, Cliff Coleman and John Steen), was chosen to be a member of the US team for the ISDT. The ISDT was considered the most challenging motorcycle event in the world. Each member of the team would ride 200 miles per day, competing in a range of endurance and skill-based events, through mountains, forests and rocky trails, against the best riders the world had to offer. The 1964 ISDT took place behind what was then the ‘Iron Curtain’ of communism in East Germany, during the height of the Cold War.
On September 5, 1964 in a packed hall in Erfurt, East Germany, complete with a large picture of Lenin, McQueen — in what has been reported as one of the proudest moments of his life — carried the ‘Stars and Stripes’ for the US team at the opening ceremony. Several days into the event disaster struck for McQueen when, hurtling along a narrow ravine at high speed on his 650 Triumph, a spectator suddenly rode his motorbike out onto the track. Sideswiped by the spectator, McQueen was sent airborne. Landing brutally, his face was smashed against a rock, and the skin was torn from his kneecaps. He was lucky to survive, though, as his bike flew off into the ravine. The race was over for Steve McQueen. Overall, however, the US team did well, with Dave Ekins and Cliff Coleman winning gold medals and John Steen winning Silver.
The Scott Motorcycle Company:
The Scott Motorcycle Company, founded by Alfred Angas Scott in 1908, was a well known producer of motorcycles and
light engines for industry. Scott motorcycles were produced until 1978. Scotts earned a reputation for speed, winning the prestigious Isle of Man Senior TT in 1912 and 1913. Their most famous model, the Super Squirrel, became something of a legend and gained a cult like status. Even today, a thriving following of the Scott motorcycle exists in the form of vintage and classic motorcycling.
Kenneth “Von Dutch” Howard:
Kenneth Howard a/k/a ‘Von Dutch’, born in Los Angeles in 1929, is a renowned motorcycle mechanic, gunsmith, pin striper and artist. His father, Wally Howard, was a well-respected Los Angeles sign painter and provided him with the introduction to art and design. In the early 1950s, Von Dutch started earning money by doing pin striping. He was a major influence in the Southern California custom car and motorcycle movement of the 1960s and is regarded as the Godfather of the ‘Kustom Kulture.’ The ‘Flying Eyeball’ has become Von Dutch’s trademark symbol and has gained mainstream recognition due to the popularity of the Von Dutch clothing company. The works of Von Dutch have become increasingly sought after by collectors and command significant prices at auctions.
Tonny Sorensen is the owner of Von Dutch Originals, a multinational clothing and accessories company. Sorensen, a former Danish kick-boxing champion, is also the founder and creative force behind Planet Illogica, an ambitious internet-based Counterculture Art Network. Von Dutch Originals is widely recognized for getting product placement of their clothing on famous movie stars and music performers and bringing the Von Dutch name to the mainstream market. Designs for the Von Dutch label and motorcycles pay homage to the artist and his unmistakable style. Today the company has shifted its focus to the art of Kenneth Howard and the patronage of emerging artists.