Here’s something we didn’t know about Steve McQueen: He liked camping. We know it’s true because his one-of-a-kind camper van hits the auction block Friday. A bit more macabre — it’s the last vehicle he rode in before dying of cancer.
It’s no secret that McQueen was fond of buying cars, bikes, trucks, and planes on a whim. According to his wife, Barbara Minty McQueen, he snagged this 1952 Chevrolet 3800 pickup camper conversion in exactly that way.
“I remember one time we drove past a migrant farm worker who had this bitchin’ old truck, and Steve turned the car around and wrote him a check on the spot,” Barbara is quoted in the listing. “He bought a plane or two that way, too.”
The Chevy has an inline-six mated to four-speed transmission and a one-off aluminum sleeper section, with a double-sided bed and plenty of storage. It isn’t much to look at, but the real story is where it figures into McQueen’s history.
The truck carried McQueen to the airport for a flight to Mexico for what proved to be his final surgery before dying of cancer. He shared the ride with the Rev. Billy Graham, who answered McQueen’s questions about the afterlife as the two rode to Ventura County Airport on November 3, 1980. McQueen died four days later.
For a guy that owned both the green Porsche 911 and the Ford GT40 from his movie Le Mans, along with a Chrysler Imperial, Hudson Hornet, and a Willys Jeep, the Chevy camper fit in nicely with his eclectic tastes.
McQueen’s pickup joins an epic list of memorabilia up for sale at Mecum’s Celebrity Items Auction in Santa Monica this weekend. On the gearhead tip, you can bid on Frank Sinatra’s Jaguar XJS and Elvis Presley’s 1972 Cadillac Custom Estate Wagon (want!), Dennis Hopper’s 1968 Husqvarna 250 T Commando, along with movie posters, costumes, Indiana Jones’ Whip, John Lennon’s sunglasses, Alice Cooper’s snake cage, the “Pit Bull” hoverboard from Back to the Future II, and knit bikini worn by Jessica Alba. Seriously. (Wired)