Steve McQueen's "Thomas Crown Affair" Dune Buggy heads for auction
The customized Myers Manx dune buggy in which Steve McQueen took Faye Dunaway on a full-noise drive in the sand dunes in the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair, is heading to auction. The VW Beetle-based buggy was customized for the film with a 230-hp Chevy Corvair flat-six, and the restored original movie car will go to auction at Bonhams' Amelia Island auction in March, 2020.
No price estimate has yet been placed on the famous screen car, though it can be expected to sell for an extraordinary sum if previous sales of McQueen and movie memorabilia is any guide.
Auctioneers Bonhams seems to have had the Lion's share of McQueen's cars and motorcycles over the last few decades.
Bonhams sold the 1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Two-Door Sedan driven in The Thomas Crown Affair for a model world record of US$70,200 in San Francisco in 2006.
At that same San Francisco auction, McQueen's auction block cred was forever established when the 1960s-era "foldable" Persol sunglasses McQueen had worn throughout the film sold for the same amount: $70,200. It was a world record for a pair of sunglasses at the time, with the price fetched by plastic tortoise shell-like fashion accessories making world news.
McQueen's feats on the auction block are now well documented, with most of them chronicled in our feature article Steve McQueen's On Any Sunday Husqvarna: How a bike that sold for $1,500 in 2008 sold for $230,000 in 2018.
The modified Myers Manx was one of several automotive stars of the The Thomas Crown Affair, with the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 Alloy NART Spyder debuting in the film alongside McQueen and Faye Dunaway. That car subsequently sold for $3,960,000 at a Gooding & Company auction in 2005, but might easily top $20 million today.
The car on offer
While the movie helped catapult Faye Dunaway to A-list stardom, the highly-modified Meyers Manx Dune Buggy also helped popularize the wares of Bruce Meyers, and the Myers Manx went from being a low volume toy to a globally recognized genre of recreational vehicle.
McQueen's love for cars and bikes ensured that the film car was unlike any other Manx, as he enlisted the help of Pete Condos of Con-Ferr to build a completely customized and totally unique vehicle.
In a period documentary about the movie, McQueen said, "Crown lives at the beach and he has a dune buggy. I helped them design it, so I'm kinda proud of that. It's set on a Volkswagen chassis with big ol' wide weenies – big wide tires on mag wheels, Corvair engine stuffed in the back … it's very light, you know (because of the fiberglass body). It's pulling about 230 horses and weighs about a thousand pounds."
Hence the vehicle that McQueen helped design and then masterfully drove with no stunt double, will be offered for sale at Bonhams' annual Amelia Island, Florida auction next March (2020).
It won't be fully original, as the motor of the original got misplaced along the way, but it has been fully rebuilt with the original chassis and body, and an identical motor (albeit with a different engine number), has been installed.