McQueen Le Mans memorabilia continues to soar
by Fong Sam
Over the weekend, a 1968 Ford GT40 used by Steve McQueen as the camera car in Le Mans was sold for an unprecedented $11 million by RM Auctions at the Pebble Beach collectors car sale. This continues the recent surge in prices for McQueen Le Mans memorabilia. Last year Profiles in History sold McQueen’s racing jumpsuit from Le Mans for $960,000 (with commission). A few months prior to that, a 1970 Porsche 911S driven by McQueen in Le Mans sold at RM Auction’s Pebble Beach sale for $1,375,000. Then just last month, McQueen’s Heuer Monaco watch from Le Mans was sold by Profiles in History for $780,000.
The orange on powder blue GT40 sets “a new world record for an American automobile sold at auction.” Before being used in the production of Le Mans, this was a bonafide racing car.
“[It] raced extensively in 1968 and 1969 by David Hobbs in world endurance racing, scoring its lone victory in a major competition at Monza, Italy, in 1968, for the John Wyer Automotive Gulf/Mirage team, which would explain the origin of its Gulf-livery blue and orange color scheme.
According to RM, the GT40 was hacked apart for its movie role, with its roof and some body panels removed to facilitate the mounting of cameras. The modifications, drivers on the set said, made the car nearly uncontrollable at high speeds like those attained on the flat-out Mulsanne Straight sections of the Le Mans track. But the footage ultimately recorded by the car would be regarded among the most realistic racing scenes captured, and the film would overcome its weak initial box-office performance to become one of the most beloved motorsports movies produced.”