1951 Chevrolet Styleline DeLuxe Convertible
Lot No. 594
Auctioned on Saturday, March 23, 2013
Formerly owned by Steve McQueen; currently owned by "Pawn Stars" star Rick Harrison
Sold for $ 88,000
- Ex-Steve McQueen ownership
- In McQueen movie, "The Hunter"
- McQueen Certificate of Authenticity
- Restored approximately 10-years ago
- Current well-known and respected ownership
Not only is this a highly reliable and classy 1951 Chevrolet Styleline DeLuxe Convertible Coupe, it also has an ownership provenance that is likely unsurpassed for this model of car. This is the automobile that Hollywood legend Steve McQueen drove frequently in the final movie of his illustrious career; “The Hunter” (1980). It is said that McQueen truly liked the car, and after the movie was shot, he purchased the car for his personal collection of vehicles.
In Hollywood, few celebrities have ever amassed a car, motorcycle and airplane collection as impressive as that of Steve McQueen. Be it a Porsche 356 Speedster, a Jaguar XK-SS, a Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta or even a host of Von Dutch customized utility vehicles; his cars are not only legendary and highly valuable, but have also been extensively written about. The Styleline DeLuxe is included in the 2007 book “McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon” by Matt Stone.
It is documented by the original McQueen Certificate of Authenticity declaring that it was owned by motion picture star Steve McQueen and purchased at the actor’s estate auction held at Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino November 24 and 25, 1984 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This document is signed by the actor’s late daughter, Terry and his son, Chad.
It is currently owned by Rick Harrison; the star of the hit reality television show, History Channel’s “Pawn Stars.” Rick is renowned for his attention to detail in determining the origin and background of his investments, and this beautiful Chevrolet convertible is no exception.
The Chevrolet is offered as being restored approximately 10 years ago, to primarily original factory specifications. The 92 horsepower six-cylinder engine is mated to a manual three-speed, column-mounted shift – which McQueen’s character struggled with, in a comedic manner, throughout the movie. The factory power-operated top works flawlessly. The car starts right up consistently and is considered to be a good driver. The Styleline DeLuxe models all featured leather interior, stainless steel reveals around the windshield, side windows and rear window. It also sports stainless moldings on the front fenders and doors, along with the rear fender shields. The Chevrolet has rear fender skirts and the factory radio. The car has been converted to a 12-volt electrical system and also features a 1980s or ‘90s aftermarket stereo that is installed below the dashboard in a manner that has not altered the integrity of the original factory metal or appearance. The paint exhibits some flaws, as would be anticipated with a restoration of this age.
In advertising for “The Hunter”, the studio used the following catch-phrase regarding Steve McQueen: "He's not as fast as he used to be... That's what makes him human. He's a bounty hunter... And that's what makes him dangerous." It was the second picture for McQueen and Eli Wallach ("The Magnificent Seven"), who plays Steve's evasive boss. Ben Johnson, in his third appearance with McQueen ("Junior Bonner" and "The Getaway"), as a Chicago sheriff, says "Just look at us, an old sheriff and a bounty hunter, born a century too late." Steve answers, "Nothing's changed. Just good guys and bad guys." And that is the basic theme of the movie; Steve McQueen as the real-life modern day bounty hunter, Ralph "Papa" Thorson, who appeared in a cameo in the film.
McQueen originally intended to direct as well as star in “The Hunter”, but the cancer that eventually took his life rendered this impossible. The script met his approval, since it is written like an updated urban Western. His touch is everywhere, and he characterizes through detail. He drinks Budweiser, apple juice and Jack Daniels. He carries a .45, but always uses a stun gun to stress a more human side of his nature. He wears bunny slippers and collects antique toys; dogs don't like him, and he has to wear reading glasses. Steve McQueen may have felt that the time had come to revise his persona. Given the star's reputation since “Bullitt” as a terrific driver, the idea was forwarded to make him a lousy one in “The Hunter.” He struggles with not hitting anything in the 1951 Chevrolet Styleline DeLuxe Convertible throughout the movie.
This is truly an opportunity not to be missed. It is rare that we are able to offer a machine that has this car’s incomparable Hollywood movie and ownership provenance making it that much more an extraordinary proposition. Steve McQueen, who passed away in 1980, was not only Hollywood’s highest paid actor with such films as “Papillon”, “The Great Escape”, “The Thomas Crown Affair”, “Bullitt” and of course “Le Mans” to his credit, but he was also a truly talented and highly successful racing driver (on two wheels or four) on sand, road, track and everything in between. Furthermore, his reputation as the “King of Cool” – the poised anti-hero who frequently performed his own stunts – has made him a pop culture icon of Elvis Presley proportions who not only inspires Hollywood actors to this day but everything from new production cars (consider the “Bullitt Edition” Ford Mustang) and movie remakes (The Thomas Crown Affair) to fashion magazines that use his likeness to tout a turtleneck, desert boots and Persol sunglasses as the quintessentially American “look.” It is this type of attraction that renders this car as a must for a diverse group of collectors.