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December 2021
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Original Steve McQueen Bullitt Steering Wheel to be Auctioned at Russo and Steele in Monterey
By Claire Natale - Wednesday Aug 11, 2021
The Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auction is revving up for their annual appearance at Monterey Car Week August 12-13. Each evening’s auction program begins with select, premium memorabilia lots, sold at No Reserve by Piece of the Past. On Friday, August 13, the auction will feature a special piece of history from ‘60s Hollywood royalty—the only surviving original, leather wrapped steering wheel from the 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback used in the film “Bullitt” starring the iconic actor Steve McQueen.

McQueen, Hollywood’s original “King of Cool,” was known for his brooding self-confidence, defiance of authority and macho style that changed cinema forever. Off screen, he was a genuine “car guy” and enjoyed the dangerous thrill of motorsports in his personal life. McQueen had a great friendship with Carroll Shelby, which led to his profound influence of the Ford Mustang.

In the famous film “Bullitt,” he portrayed Frank Bullitt, a San Francisco police lieutenant that drove a Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback in one of the most famous automotive chase scenes in history. McQueen was instrumental in the selection of the Mustang for the movie and because he was a genuine enthusiast and racer, he personally mandated a couple of significant changes.

It was Shelby that provided McQueen with two 1967 GT350 Deluxe Steering wheels and two sets of American Racing Magnesium Wheels – one set for the “Hero Car” and one set for the “Stunt Car”.

The two models of the Mustang needed to be roughed up and modified to accurately present vehicles that could be found on the streets of San Francisco. Both cars needed to be identical, so McQueen took the Mustangs to Precision Auto Body to “prepare” both cars with identical dents, dings and scratches.

McQueen typically wore gloves when piloting performance or racing machines, however, in this movie, gloves were not an option while remaining in character. As a result, both steering wheels were sent to Tony Nancy, a well-known upholster, to cover them with leather using a special stich called “Catch Catch” for a better grip.

After the movie wrapped, the Mustangs were delivered back to Precision Auto Body. The “Stunt” car was severely wrecked and damaged, and the steering wheel was bent enough that you could not steer the vehicle. Precision removed the bent steering wheel, hanging it on the wall as an ornament.

Recently, the “Hero” car, without the original movie steering wheel, made some history as it was sold this past January for $3.74 million.

That very steering wheel will be sold NO RESERVE on Friday night, August 13th - exclusively at the Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auction in Monterey. Truly, a once in a lifetime opportunity to possess the ultimate, one-of-a-kind collector’s item for passionate Steve McQueen and rabid car enthusiasts worldwide.

Billed as the “Mecca of Collector Automobiles”, Russo and Steele is among an elite list of events that contributes to Monterey’s Historic Car Week and holds the hottest ticket to Monterey’s race weekend. Russo and Steele is extending complementary Bidder Credentials to all clients in celebration of their return to live auction in Monterey.

As a lead up to the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance event on Sunday, August 15, Russo and Steele’s auction is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Monterey. The three-day event will auction collectible automobiles in its safe, highly interactive, visceral ground-level auction arena that provides an experience where buyers can get up close with the cars. Known for its auction-in-the-round format, Russo and Steele is unlike any other event and is known as “The World’s Most Exciting Collector Automobile Auction.” Russo and Steele places buyers, sellers and enthusiastic spectators up close and personal with vehicles.

About Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auctions

One of the nation’s premier collector-car auction houses, Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auctions continues to set records and attract a discerning global clientele. In addition to its reputation for offering stellar collector automobiles, the unique high-energy auction experience is simply unattainable anywhere else. Auctions include a signature event in Scottsdale, Ariz. every January, followed by March at Amelia Island and August at Monterey, California. For additional information, please visit http://www.russoandsteele.com or call 602.252.2697.