Steve McQueen’s family take legal action against Ferrari

Ferrari allegedly didn’t fully discuss the use of the McQueen name for a special-edition car; the California T, which marked 70 years of the Italian brand

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Steve McQueen was THE style icon of his day. Both on and off screen his charisma charmed the world, and even now the legendary actor is well represented in popular culture. Many things attached to McQueen carry special significance and value, and it’s this topic that has led the family to file a lawsuit against Ferrari.

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Steve McQueen was partial to a Ferrari, and his 250GT Berlinetta – a gift from his wife – was one of his favourites. Last year, the marque launched a series of special-edition cars to celebrate its 70th anniversary. The range was primarily made up of modern-day models with historic liveries, but among them was a California T that took inspiration from McQueen’s own car. It was called ‘The McQueen’ – and that is where the current legal problem first arose.

Chad McQueen, the actor’s son, filed a lawsuit in July looking for damages of $2 million per trademark violation. Apparently, in 2011 Chad did visit Maranello and discuss special-edition cars with Ferrari, but he claims that a chat is as far as it went. The California T in question has since had its name changed to ‘The Actor’, but the argument is that the car had already benefited from the initial McQueen association. Even after the name change Ferrari reportedly continued to use the McQueen persona in descriptions pertaining to the car.

The McQueen family has outlined several previous cars relating to Steve that have since sold for vast sums. The Porsche 917K that starred in the film Le Mans changed hands at $14 million, and a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 once owned by McQueen went for $10 million.

Ferrari hasn’t responded to the lawsuit as of yet, but it is an interesting scenario on which we shall keep tabs over the coming months.

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