Bonhams – the auction house most associated with the King of Cool – will be offering at auction the very car in which Steve McQueen took Faye Dunaway on an exhilarating, white-knuckled ride in the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair.
Like the car chase on the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt, the ride on the beach of Massachusetts in Thomas Crown is the stuff of legend. The Hollywood film captivated global audiences and brought the Meyers Manx – the first true “dune buggy” – to the attention of the world. Not only that, but the movie reaffirmed McQueen’s affinity for and capability in motoring, as well as helped catapult the talented and beautiful Dunaway to A-list stardom. To simply say this movie influenced popular culture would be a gross understatement indeed.
First, Bonhams sold the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow driven in the movie for a model world record. Then Bonhams sold the Persol sunglasses worn by McQueen in the movie for another world record. Now, the most famous “prop” of all from The Thomas Crown Affairwill be offered for sale by Bonhams.
The Meyers Manx, developed by SoCal native Bruce Meyers, was the embodiment of the California lifestyle – sun, sand, sea and free livin’ – all in a compact, open-air, go-anywhere funmobile. McQueen’s love for cars and bikes was already well established and it was his influence that brought this distinctly American vehicle into the film directed by Norman Jewison.
Unlike any other Manx, however, McQueen enlisted the help of motor legend Pete Condos of Con-Ferr fame to build a completely customised and totally unique vehicle. In a period documentary about the movie, McQueen said, “Crown lives at the beach and he has a dune buggy. I helped them design it, so I’m kinda proud of that. It’s set on a Volkswagen chassis with big ol’ wide weenies – big wide tyres on mag wheels, Corvair engine stuffed in the back…It’s very light, you know (because of the fibreglass body). It’s pulling about 230 horses and weighs about a thousand pounds.”
Report by bonhams.com
Photos by Pawel Litwinsky