Steve McQueen's Chevy Camper Tells an Interesting Story
Steve McQueen was many things to many people. On the silver screen he was the rebellious bad boy that influenced a generation. With hands on a wheel, he was a motoring icon. But behind the scenes he was also a generous benefactor, donating time and money to help struggling teens. It’s that softer side of Steve McQueen that’s really quite inspiring, and it’s a side that this rather unassuming Chevrolet camper sheds some light on. In 1978, McQueen bought the ’52 Chevrolet 3800 pickup “on a whim” as his wife Barbara Minty McQueen told Mecum Auctions. “Steve’s collection of cars and motorcycles cluttered the private driveway that serviced a row of homes near the beach,” said Minty McQueen, “but that didn’t stop him from buying whatever he wanted.” RELATED: See More Photos of Steve McQueen's Chevrolet Camper
According to the auction house, McQueen used the vintage camper while embarking on cross-country camping trips. Out back, the galvanized metal camper housed a twin bed, storage cabinets, and tool boxes, while underneath the hood rumbled a 235ci straight-six engine. The camper actually dates all the way back to 1952 when California sheet metal fabricator Harold Van Hoosen built the custom rig, nicknamed “Dust Tite.”
Next to rare and iconic cars like McQueen’s own Porsche 930 Turbo, the camper would seem rather unimportant. But according to the auction house, this was one of the last cars McQueen ever drove. In fact, this camper is the vehicle that Steve McQueen drove from his home in Santa Paula, California, to Ventura County Airport on November 3, 1980, en route to Mexico for cancer treatment. Sadly, he would pass away on November 7 due to complications of the procedure.
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Reverend Billy Graham is said to have accompanied McQueen on that final journey to the airport, and the evangelist noted that McQueen peppered him with questions about the afterlife, before the two shared a prayer and parted ways.
On November 24, 1984, the Chevrolet camper was originally sold at the Hollywood star’s estate auction in Las Vegas, Nevada. On November 14, Mecum Auctions will auction off the camper in Anaheim, California. While the simple pickup may not reflect McQueen's bad boy silver screen persona, it does tell of the leading man and his life off-camera.
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