Last month at the Paris Motor Show, Ferrari announced that it would be releasing a strictly limited edition of special liveries to celebrate the Company’s forthcoming 70th anniversary. The 70 individual liveries will be available for single use on one example of five models from the current Maranello range, creating 350 totally unique cars.
One of the liveries on display in the French capital was “The Steve McQueen”, a tribute to the great cinema star. It’s a wonderfully elegant brown California T, with camel leather interiors, inspired by the actor’s 1963 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso, a present from his then wife Neile Adams.
McQueen owned four Ferraris: that 250 GT Lusso, a 275 GTS, a 275 GTB/4 alloy coupé (which he took delivery of on the set of Bullitt in San Francisco) and a NART Spider. The final car on that list was sadly written off just days after being delivered.
However, as Matt Stone, author of McQueen’s Machines: The Cars And Bikes Of A Hollywood Icon, points out, the actor may have enjoyed pushing his Prancing Horses to the limit, but he generally drove carefully. ‘McQueen was a very good driver, and took good care of his road cars, he drove them hard, but always kept them in good shape.
‘The Ferraris were all somewhat everyday transport; he didn’t race or show any of them. They weren’t collectible at that stage, just special. But they were still cars to Steve.’
An avid car collector, McQueen had garages full of vehicles of varying international brands, everything from a Mini Cooper to a GMC Pickup truck. He did, however, seem to have a special place in his heart for Ferrari. ‘He had a love of all things mechanical and appreciated performance cars, and cars from brands that were successful in racing,’ says Stone.
‘Plus he loved great styling and design, so mix that in with the appreciation for performance hardware and it’s clear why he loved Ferrari.’
McQueen famously raced during his spare off-screen time, coming second in the 1970 12 Hours of Sebring, but he wasn't the only Hollywood legend who loved to get out on the track. Paul Newman, his co-star in The Towering Inferno, was another keen racer. But who was the better driver?
‘I’ve studied this hard, as I’ve written books about both,’ says Stone. ‘I believe Steve had more natural physical talent for it than Paul did, but Paul was more disciplined, taught himself to be a good racing driver and ultimately got four SCCA National [Sports Car Championship] titles, plus two Trans-Am series wins, plus more runs at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans than Steve did.
‘Right day, right car, I suspect McQueen was a teensy bit faster, but Paul the more disciplined racer. Too bad they never raced against each other!’