Facts and Trivia March 2016


Last month I promised you that I would write about some of the other motorcycles that I saw during the Bonham Vintage Motorcycle Auction while I was in Las Vegas.
I’d like to tell you about one of the featured bikes I that I was privileged to see, the 1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled a great bike that was owned and ridden hard by the “king of cool” himself, Steve McQueen. Originally selling for around $1000 when new, this Triumph was built and modified for McQueen by his good friend Bud Ekins who was also the stuntman in films like Great Escape” and “Bullitt.” Some of the modifications Ekins did would be chopping the rear fender, zig-zag exhaust, and adding a proper set of bars to keep those knobbies from getting too squirrely. Ekins owned a Triumph dealership and that’s how he and McQueen met. Ekins, then the absolute master of Southern California off-road motorcycle racing, coached McQueen in bike control on the desert washes and fire trails of the area. McQueen, in turn, got Ekins stuntman jobs in the film industry. When the two worked together on The Great Escape, Ekins doubled for McQueen on the famous fence-jumping scene. Both McQueen and Ekins had a love of motorcycles that led to each being inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame. As McQueen and Ekins matured, their attention turned to vintage motorcycles and each had a collection of over 100 bikes. Ekins maintained McQueen’s bikes until the actor’s death in 1980.

This Triumph is a tangible artifact of the long-standing friendship between Ekins and McQueen. If that wasn’t enough for this motorcycle’s provenance, Kenny Howard AKA “Von Dutch” painted the bike. Some wonder why a famous pinstriper like Von Dutch would paint a bike for Steve McQueen in solid green, Von Dutch would later say: McQueen intended to ride off road and figured that he would drop the bike a lot so he wasn’t going to put time into pin striping.

At auction on January 7th 2016, Steve McQueen’s 1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled sold for $103,500. The bike comes with a 1971 title to Solar Productions, McQueen’s production company that made among other movies, the racing classic, Le Mans. The title bears Steve McQueen’s signature.
The only sad part is this great motorcycle with such an amazing history will never see dirt again.


Trivia Question of the Month:

What year did Harley-Davidson start using 39mm forks on Sportsters, FXRs and FX Softails?

If you think you have the answer, email “Bo” at Hogshoppe@aol.com
Look for the answer in next month’s issue of
“Full Throttle Magazine.

Answer to last month’s trivia question:
Question: Honda motorcycles became a stiff competitor for Harley-Davidson in the United States, what year did Honda come to America:
A.) 1949
B.) 1959
C.) 1969

Answer. In 1959, Honda comes to America to “Meet the nicest people.”

Bo’s Monthly Words of Wisdom:
No matter which road you choose, there will always be some asshole in front of you trying to make a left.
“Live to Ride or Step Aside”
Written by Bo
“The Hog Shoppe”