Consigned for Bonhams' "Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction" on January 10, the Husqvarna is a 1970 '400 Cross' two stroke motocross model, one of five examples McQueen was believed to have purchased. With its alloy guards and red tank with chrome panels, the 400 Cross is familiar to most from its appearance on a Sports Illustrated magazine cover with McQueen.
In mid-2011, an ex-McQueen Husky 400 Cross (then described as a 1971 model), and identified as THE Sports Illustrated cover bike, sold for a record US$144,500. At the start of 2012, the same bike was offered for sale again via a different auction house, but bidding stalled at US$137,000 and it was passed in.
The example to be auctioned through Bonhams on January 10 is reported as being one of the first 1970 model 400 Cross machines imported into the US that year, and was purchased by McQueen in February 1970, via his Solar Productions company. According to McQueen's son, Chad, the elder McQueen was so impressed with the performance of the 400 Cross that he ordered four more, which goes some way to explaining the confusion over numbers of these ex-McQueen Husqvarnas on the market and in the hands of collectors.
In the consignor's possession since 2008, competition-spec components on this particular bike (identified by the code MH-1341) include a compression-release lever, modified cylinder head and modified exhaust, reflecting McQueen's serious approach to racing during this period.
The seller reconditioned the motorcycle to running order and rebuilt the gearbox, but has retained the bike's patina. Wear around the usual areas suggest the Husqvarna was used with some vigour by McQueen prior to his death in 1980. An interesting personal inclusion on this particular motorcycle is a "lucky penny" American 1 cent coin from 1960 (Chad's birth year), which the seller found stashed, presumably by McQueen himself, between the engine and frame.
The sale of MH-1341 includes documentation supporting the motorcycle's provenance, including Solar Productions receipts, importer documents and other business correspondence, as well as McQueen's entry form for the 1970 'Saddleback 500 Senior Race' where presumably this 400 Cross, or one of the others, was campaigned. Ahead of the auction, Bonhams have estimated the value of this particular ex-McQueen Husqvarna (sold on a Bill of Sale) at US$80,000 - US$100,000.
Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction will take place at Bally's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on January 10, 2013. Further details on this and the other consignments, including rare Indians and Harleys, veteran motorcycles and a BMW race bike collection, can be found at www.bonhams.com
Images: courtesy of Bonhams USA.