Next week Christies will auction a fully restored 1963 Ferrari Lusso that once belonged to the late Steve McQueen, legendary film start. One of only 350 Lussos built, Christies says this one is “widely regarded as the best example.”
Christies expects the car to sell at a figure between $88,000 and $1.2 million. That actually seems a bit light on the price. Last year the sunglasses McQueen wore in the original movie “The Thomas Crown Affair” went for $70,00 at a Los Angeles auction, while his 1937 Crocker motorcycle topped a quarter of a million dollars.
Bad timing? Budget a bit tight this month?
But having a McQueen car would still be a thrill?
Well, there’s an alternative.
A 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, which is portrayed as originally owned by McQueen, is currently on eBay – and it looks to be in pretty nice shape. According to the owner, McQueen drove the car until 1980, the year in which he died from a cancer induced heart attack. (Here’s the link: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320144021614&fromMakeTrack=true&ssPageName=VIP:watchlink:middle:us. Bidding ends August 13th.
The seller also tells an interesting story of how McQueen came to own the car. He contacted Mercedes-Benz in a effort to buy one, but production of the 6.3 had ended in 1972, prior to McQueen’s effort to get one. So, Mercedes regretfully told him they had no car to sell him. But then a customer who had ordered a car, described as a South African diamond merchant, backed out on his order. That freed up the car to be sold to McQueen. It also explains, according to the seller, why this car is a European specification car.
To back up his claim that this is a McQueen car, the seller has the original registration of the car to Solar Productions, which was a movie production company owned by McQueen. Solar Productions made “Bullitt” and, later, “LeMans,” in both of which McQueen stared.
The 300 SEL 6.3 was, in its day, generally regarded as the finest road going sedan in the world. Road & Track magazine called it “merely the best sedan in the world.” Car & Driver road tested one and, perhaps because the car was so well known for its handling, got Don Garlitts to do the test drive. (Garlitts was the several time NHRA champion in top fuel drag racing.) Garlitts loved the car. Readers of the various car magazines consistently voted it at the top of the luxury car rankings.
The “SEL” in the car’s name referred to the body: the large Mercedes sedan, in the extended length version. “300” referred to the three liter engine with which the car was ordinarily equipped.
But the “6.3” referred to the engine with which this model was equipped: a 6.3 liter V-8 that delivered 250 hp. It was developed by Mercedes for their “Pullman” limousine. Installed in the 300 SEL, it produced a car that could do zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and had a top speed of about 130 mph. The 6.3 came with a pneumatic suspension system and vented discs on all wheels and 70 series tires. It also came loaded with every luxury option conceivable in the day.
Current bidding is just over $30,000.