McQueen bikes comes out of hiding

Riley Riley

A motorcycle ridden by actor Steve McQueen in The Great Escape is set to star in the Concours d’Elégance at Salon Privé.

The 1962 650cc Triumph TR6R, currently on display at the Triumph Factory Visitor Experience at Hinckley in Leicestershire, has not been shown publicly since the film’s release in 1963.

It is just one of a mouth-watering array of iconic motorcycles that will be vying for honours at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire across three classes.

An accomplished amateur racer on two and four wheels, McQueen reportedly begged the film’s director John Sturges to let him perform the film’s famous motorcycle stunt himself.

But the film’s insurers wouldn’t hear of it, and the task fell to the King of Cool’s great friend and sometime team-mate Bud Ekins instead.

In the film McQueen’s character Virgil Hilts flees German soldiers by jumping a motorcycle across barricades and barbed wire from Germany into neutral Switzerland.

While it looks good on the screen, in reality a motorcycle of this period would not have been able to make the jump, so as many as three TR6Rs were aged to look the part and used for the rough stuff.

One of the highlights of the film, the motorcycle jump helped cement the film’s legendary status.

The McQueen Triumph will be competing in Class B, with judging taking place on August 30.

It will be on general display on Friday, August 31.

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