Steve McQueen’s Connection With Triumph Motorcycles.

stevemcqueentriumphbisYestersay March 24, Steve McQueen would have celebrated its 84th birthday. And it’s 60 years ago that he rode his first new Triumph motorcycle. It was sold to him by Johnson Motors in Pasadena, California and delivered to him at the Los Angeles’ Universal Studios. McQueen became good friend with Bud Ekins who teached him how to race in the desert, then both participated to an endure in Northern California. But it was the 1964 International Six Day Trial that went a long way to creating the enduring image of McQueen the great motorcyclist.

stevemcqueentriumphThe actor rode in the American team and, by chance, French photographer François Gragnon captured him in competition and hanging out with other bikers, rare moments of a Hollywood superstar being just one of the lads in a far less contrived age.

Then, McQueen shot “The Great Escape”, and the world over, there are posters of the immortal scene of the leap over the wire. Very few knew that it was Ekins who rode the scene. (It was also Ekins who piled the motorcycle towards the end of the famed car chase in the movie “Bullit”.) McQueen’s career went stratospheric and he became the highest-paid actor in the world.

By the mid-Seventies the British motorcycle industry was in free fall. But one brand was too “cool” to go the way of Norton, BSA and all the others. The designs of Edward Turner and the “King of Cool’s” patronage ensured that the Triumph name would rise from the ashes. But McQueen would not live to see it.

Zipper's

11 Responses to “Steve McQueen’s Connection With Triumph Motorcycles.”


  1. 1 Zipper Mar 25th, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Good taste in motorcycles and aircraft too. Most of the cool guys rode Triumphs back in the day. ..Z

  2. 2 Rodent Mar 25th, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Steve McQueen turned me on to motorcycles. He was a inspiration. Thanks Steve!

  3. 3 Rodent Mar 25th, 2014 at 8:42 am
  4. 4 James just another crazy Kiwi Mar 25th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Great clip Rodent,
    they celebrated the 70th ( I think) anniversary of the great escape this week.
    Only 3 got away and most of the rest were caught and then assassinated by the Gestapo.

    God Speed to the King of Cool

  5. 5 nicker Mar 25th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Don’t remember how many time is sat through The Great Escape just to watch street bikes slide around in the dirt…….. 🙂

    -nicker-

  6. 6 morpion Mar 25th, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    A REAL ONE,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  7. 7 Lightnin` Larry Mar 26th, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Many of you here will know who Mert Lawwell is. Mert had a very bad racing accident once and completely destroyed his wrist. Doc’s said he was finished and would never race again. Steve knew Mert and found the best orthopedic surgeon in the USA and paid for the entire surgery himself.
    The surgery was very revolutionary for it’s time and Mert got his wrist back and continued his racing career thanks to Steve. That’s the kind of guy Steve was, too bad there aren’t more like him!

  8. 8 Magnet Man Mar 26th, 2014 at 7:06 am

    A man dies two deaths.
    His physical death, one.
    The second is when no one utters His name ever again.
    Steve will never die that second death!
    Godspeed, Steve.

  9. 9 glenn Apr 5th, 2014 at 12:32 am

    I watch OnAnySunday a couple times a year.Saw it for the 1,st about 40 years ago.

  10. 10 BCinSoCal Apr 8th, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Had the pleasure and privilege of sitting and talking with Bud Ekins at a party one evening for about 45 minutes, he with a whiskey in one hand and a cigarette in the other, the real deal! And of course McQueen was and always will be The King Of Cool!

  11. 11 bartso34 Apr 18th, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    love my bonneville black…..

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