Steve McQueen’s 1963 Triumph Bonneville Modified By Bud Elkins
Actor Steve McQueen and his stunt double Bud Ekins were the closest of mates for most of McQueen’s acting/racing career. Both the men had many attributes in common apart from both of them growing from humble beginnings. But perhaps the most common thing that molded them together was their passion for motorcycles and racing. So much so that both of the men are inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame.
It all started by the then young TV Actor McQueen heading out to buy a Triumph 500 Scrambler from Elkins’ Triumph dealership in San Francisco Valley at the end of 1950s. Elkins who was one of the top motorcycle racers participating in off-road racing in Southern California was the man who trained McQueen the art of bike control back then. In return, Steve McQueen got secured him a job as stuntman in the film industry. In the movie The Great Escape, Elkins was McQueen’s double for the famous fence jumping scene.
It was partially due to Elkins that McQueen participated in the International Six Days Trials, an event known as the Olympics of motorcycling where Bud’s brother Dave and fellow Cliff Coleman both won gold medals, the highest individual honor for the event. With both McQueen and Bud maturing and growing their tastes and passions, each ended up with more than 100 motorcycles, with all of McQueen’s machines exclusively maintained by Elkins until the actor’s death in 1980.
This particular motorcycle was exclusively built by Bud Elkins for Steve McQueen to participate in desert racing and cow trailing. Build upon a 1963 Triumph Bonneville with help in the paint department from their friend Kenny Howard, better known as the Von Dutch. Since the bike was purpose built, it does not carry Von Dutch’s trademark pin-stripe paint scheme so that it can be easily rebuilt in case of a fall.
The 1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled goes to sale on January 7, 2016 as a part of Bonhams’ Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction from The Larry Bowman Collection.