Steve McQueen Would Want You to Buy His 1945 Willys Jeep at Auction
This Jeep probably didn’t live a cushy life—much like McQueen himself.
A 1945 Willys Jeep personally owned by stuntman and film star Steve McQueen will be sold at auction in early November.
McQueen enjoyed a highly successful acting career, wherein he performed many of his own stunts in films such as Bullitt, Le Mans, and The Great Escape. At one point, he was the highest-paid actor in the world, but a star that burned so bright was destined to burn out early—and he did. McQueen developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure during his military service. Attempts to cure his conditions through quack treatments failed, and on Nov. 7, 1980, McQueen entered a surgery from which he would not awake.
His extensive collection of vehicles was liquidated at an estate sale in Las Vegas later that month, where one lucky buyer snagged McQueen's Willys Jeep for $6,000, or ten times the going rate for a Willys. Its owner today, in turn, acquired it from the state sale of its purchaser, but it won't be waiting until another death to change hands—the Jeep will be sold at the NEC Classic Motor Show Sale 2018 at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, UK, on Nov. 10 or 11.
The vehicle itself was originally delivered to the U.S. military on July 7, 1945, at the tail end of World War II's Pacific campaign, Germany having surrendered months prior. It bears a classic blue California plate, with tags that expired on Halloween of 1980—just a week prior to McQueen's passing—and a plaque boasting the Jeep's provenance as McQueen's personal collection, affirmed by the signatures of his family.
If the idea of owning McQueen's personal Willys excites you, there had better be deep pockets to your pants, as its consignors expect it to sell for £80-100,000 ($106-$132,000), and that's before an extra 35 percent in auction fees and tax.