Steve McQueen is Mr. Cool, period. Not only was he a major movie star, but he was also simultaneously a legitimately skilled professional racer in multiple events. For all Steve McQueen did within the car racing scene, he was probably best known for his love of motorcycle riding and racing. McQueen is most known for riding desert sled Triumphs, but his love of Husqvarna cannot be overstated. Steve McQueen’s first Husqvarna Viking 360 is now heading to auction at RM Sotheby’s this August.
What motorcycle did Steve McQueen ride?
Of course, Steve McQueen rode and owned many, many motorcycles. He was probably best known for riding the Triumphs, but the desert sled converted Triumph TR6C is one of the more iconic – that is, until he found the Husqvarna Viking 360.
According to Silodrome, Steve McQueen was so impressed by watching Swedish motocross champion Bengt Åberg race the brand-new Husqvarna Viking 360 that he literally bought it out from under him after the race. Aberg agreed to sell the Husqvarna Viking 360, making this Steve McQueen’s first Husqvarna, and Aberg had to finish the season on a new bike. (Reckon when Steve McQueen wants your bike, you sell it to him.)
What was so special about the Husqvarna Viking 360?
People like McQueen, who raced on dirt, often look for a lightweight bike with snappy power and strong suspension. In 1968, when the Husqvarna Viking 360 came out, it was clear that the spritely two-stroke would spell trouble for some of the heavier four-stroke bikes, like McQueen’s old Triumphs. The Viking 360 had a raucous 37 horsepower, which may not sound like all that much, but these little Huskies only weighed in at 215 lbs. Those numbers paired with the Viking’s already off-road-tuned suspension made these bikes easy to love.
There is also the added racing pedigree that put the Husqvarna Viking 360 in McQueen’s mind. The Viking was a direct descendant of the 1966 and 1967 250 World Championship winning 250cc Husqvarna. As more American riders were getting interested in these Swedish bikes, Husqvarna sealed the deal when they sent Bengt Åberg over to race in the states.
After McQueen, the crowned King of Cool, bought Åberg’s bike off him, Husqvarna’s coolness was cemented in the States. As if the Viking 360 needed any further endorsement, Åberg went on to win the World Championship on a Husqvarna in 1969 and 1970.
What movie did Steve McQueen ride a Husqvarna in?
“On Any Sunday” was a cult motorcycle film that still swirls around motorcycle circles today. This film is little more than a string of badass shots of desert riders drifting, ramping, and all-around hell-raising with a few Husqvarna’s. Although these bikes dominated the motocross racing circuits, seeing Steve McQueen riding them on the big screen was all Americans needed to know.
As Husqvarna kept improving upon this Viking 360, bigger and badder models came and went, and with each one, McQueen continued to upgrade. Over the years, this led to Steve McQueen’s first Husqvarna Viking 360 getting fewer miles in the sand.
Steve McQueen’s first Husqvarna can be yours
After Steve McQueen’s death, the Viking 360 was sold on into private hands, and in 2014 it was subject to restoration, which brought it back to as-new condition so the new owners could ride it themselves if they wished.
Now, for the first time in many years, Steve McQueen’s first Husqvarna is going to auction. The bike is expected to bring somewhere north of $100,000. Knowing the importance of this bike and the way many automotive auctions have gone lately, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this bike climb the tax brackets.