Auctions America is about to auction in Los Angeles several awesome motorcycles including a 1946 Indian Chief formally owned by “The King of Cool” Steve McQueen, as well as a 1911 Indian Model C. This auction, set for August 1-3 at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel, will be covered live by NBC sports with Jay Leno being the guest commentator. Day pass is $20 (children under 12 free). Bidder registration is $100 and includes admission for two for all days.
The story of the 1946 Indian Chief is well documented by the original McQueen Certificate of Authenticity declaring that it was owned by motion picture star Steve McQueen and purchased at the actor’s estate auction held at The Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino November 24 and 25, 1984 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It ran as lot number 622. This document is signed by the actor’s late daughter, Terry and his son, Chad. It also has a copy of the bill of sale from that auction. It is fully documented and in need of nothing. It was completely restored in the early 1990s. A motorcycle with this provenance is a unique collector’s piece, and with consideration that it was owned and ridden by “The King of Cool”, it certainly is an investment opportunity.
According to the account in the 2007 book “McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon” by Matt Stone; biographer William Nolan conveys that in the fall of 1951 Mr. McQueen had “saved enough money to buy a battered cycle with a sidecar (removed at an unstated time), which he proudly tooled around the Village in NYC. ‘It was my first bike and I loved it,’ admitted Steve. ‘But I was going with a girl who began to hate the cycle – just hated riding in the bumpy sidecar. She told me, “Either the cycle goes or I go!” ‘Well, there was no contest. She went.’” McQueen was working in New York and that battered cycle was this 1946 Indian Chief.
The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Hall of Fame entry for Steve McQueen delivers the story in a similar manner: “His first motorcycle was a 1946 Indian Chief. In a 1971 interview in Sports Illustrated, McQueen recalls that he was smitten by motorcycling from the start. ‘I was so proud of that Indian that I rode it over to see a girl I was dating,” he recalled. “She said, ‘You don’t expect me to ride around with you on that, do you?’ I surely did. The girl went and the bike stayed.’”