I never knew Steve McQueen. However I did briefly own a black ’69 Mustang fastback. My wife at the time had gone against my suggestion to only have it serviced at an authorized Ford dealership. Without informing me, she took it to a local Shell station in Glendale (CA). At four a.m. the following day I got a call from Glendale PD, asking if my Mustang was in my custody. I groggily replied that it should be parked in the carport below our apartment. Needless to say it wasn’t. An hour later I arrived at a vacant lot in Pacoima to view my Mustang, torched and completely stripped. The thief had thoughtfully left the license plate; thus my being contacted. The ‘Stang was a stick shift, and nothing on the street could out-drag it. When others were shifting into third gear, the Mustang was still in first. Losing the car like that helped me decide to part company with my then-wife. I mean, what would Steve McQueen have done?
Terence Stephen “Steve” McQueen (March 24, 1930 – November 7, 1980) was an American actor. He was nicknamed “The King of Cool.” His “anti-hero” persona, which he developed at the height of the Vietnam counterculture, made him one of the top box-office draws of the 1960s and 1970s. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles. His other popular films include The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, and Papillon, as well as the all-star ensemble films The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and The Towering Inferno. In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world. Although, McQueen was combative with directors and producers, his popularity put him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries.
McQueen was an avid motorcycle and racecar enthusiast. When he had the opportunity to drive in a movie, he performed many of his own stunts. Perhaps, the most memorable were the car chases in Bullitt and motorcycle chases in The Great Escape.
To his dismay, McQueen was never able to own the legendary Ford Mustang GT 390 he drove in Bullitt, which featured a highly modified drive train that suited McQueen’s driving style. One of the two Mustangs was so badly damaged that it was judged beyond repair and scrapped. The second car still exists, but the owner has consistently refused to sell it at any price.