Silverstone Auctions has sold a Willys MB Jeep formerly belonging to legendary actor Steve McQueen, with a fierce bidding war sending its value over $100,000
Steve McQueen, ‘The King of Cool’ has a strong automotive history, and one small piece of it went under the hammer at Silverstone Auctions' NEC Classic Motor Show Sale last weekend. A 1945 Willys Jeep MB, which was owned and driven by McQueen, sold for £84,375 including premium – or roughly $109,300 in American money.
The Jeep is chassis MB452936, and has a two cylinder 2200c engine, labelled as DSL 2188R in official records. It’s unknown when it entered McQueen’s ownership, but was sold by his estate at auction in November 1984 at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.
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A Mr J. McClughan was the highest bidder at that 1984 auction, putting $6000 on the table for the World War II Jeep. That's only around $14,600 when adjusted for inflation – an absolute steal compared to last weekend's hammer price. Surprisingly though, last weekend's sale barely surpassed the lower estimate for the Jeep, which had been set to £80,000 - £100,000 ($105,302 - $131,628).
McQueen was one of the most iconic figures in cars and film in the 1960s and ‘70s, starring in cult movies such as ‘Bullitt’, ‘Le Mans’ and ‘The Great Escape’. He owned a vast collection of cars, most of them indisputably classics, including a Ferrari 275 GTB/4, a Jaguar XKSS and a Porsche 911S.
Guarantees that this is the car McQueen used to own comes from Kenneth Zifferen, co-trustee of the McQueen Children’s Trust. He has has signed the bill of sale, which will be included in the sale along with the auction catalogue from 1984 and Californian license plates from the time McQueen drove it.
The Jeep only had one owner since McClughan, in which it was imported to the UK and renovated by marque specialist Jeeparts-UK. It is also supplied with a NOVA reference number, an MoT, a dating certificate from the Military Vehicle Trust, and UK and US taxes paid.
Created as a military vehicle, the Jeep was actually a product of the United States’ Department of War. It formulated a description of a light, cross-country, four-wheel drive, reconnaissance vehicle it wanted and pitched it to potential manufacturers. Less than 200 days later, the Jeep was already hitting production.
Willys Overland produced over 300,000 Jeeps and the Ford Motor Co. was drafted in to help boost production and contributed over 250,000 units. The car became an icon of American automotive history, but most importantly played a role in the course of WWII.