THE STORY BEHIND THE SALE BY TOM WHITE
AUCTION: Mecum Auction, Las
FEATURED BIKE: 1974-1/2
CACHET: Previously owned by
SOLD FOR: No sale at $25,000
THE BIKE: This Steve McQueen-owned machine was first sold as
Lot 504 in the famous 1984 Steve
McQueen Estate Auction and was
purchased several years ago by a well-known motorcycle industry executive.
As represented by Mecum, the buyer
would also receive McQueen’s riding
gear, helmet, leather boots, goggles
and a Certificate of Authenticity.
The YZ250/360Bs were destined
to change the entire way motocross
motorcycles were designed and built.
Less than five hundred 360s were
built and marketed to expert riders
only. The engine, brakes and front
end were similar to the YZ-A models’,
featuring drilled and lightened hardware and magnesium components.
The monoshock frame was much
heavier than the A-model, but the handling was superb and really enabled
the expert rider to put the 360’s
power to the ground.
BEHIND THE SALE: This is not
the first McQueen motorcycle to be
offered for sale at the Mecum Las
Vegas Auction. Several years ago, a
’ 71 Husqvarna 400 Cross represent-
ed as the On Any Sunday bike was
bid all the way up to $125,000 but
didn’t meet the reserve. The YZ360B’s
seller asked to remain anonymous,
but he shared with me that he had
purchased the YZ along with sever-
al other important Steve McQueen
collectibles at a bargain price. In my
opinion, he just wanted to test the
market, as he had set the reserve at
$150,000. Bidding stopped at $25,000,
and the bike, boots and gear went
CONDITION: The machine was
in original condition and appeared to
have only been ridden a few hours.
The front and rear tires were the
Yokohama tires that came as original
equipment, and the chain and sprockets were original. Good! For potential
auction buyers, one problem is not
knowing what kind of condition the
engine is in, as machines are not to be
started on the auction floor. I always
ask the seller if I can check the compression by turning the engine over
with the kick starter, and I also make
sure that the engine will shift correctly
through the gears. I also recommend
checking all controls and making sure
the wheels align correctly.
THE DEAL: Though represented
as a 1974-1/2 model, the 360s were
not sold until early ’ 75, and the
suggested retail price was $1750.
Demand for these bikes in 1975 was
very high, and many dealers charged
a $500 premium over MSRP. Note:
U.S. models were yellow/black, while
Canadian and European production
machines were white/red.
If this machine didn’t have major
provenance—being owned by none
other than Steve McQueen—a fair
price would be around $15,000.
Unfortunately for the seller, apparently Steve McQueen fans were hanging
out at a different casino. ❏