Chevrolet Steve McQueen Custom Camper
While much is known of McQueen’s antique motorcycle collection, he was also an avid collector of vintage cars and trucks. Throughout his lifetime, he owned more than 60 rare vehicles including a 1951 Hudson Hornet, a 1956 GMC Suburban, a 1931 Lincoln Club Sedan, a 1946 Willys Jeep and a 1935 Chrysler Airflow Imperial Sedan.
This 1952 Forest Green Chevrolet 3800 series is a one-ton long-bed pickup truck and is much sought after by customizers, hot rodders and old truck collectors. McQueen acquired this car on Feb. 2, 1978, when he resided in Trancas Beach, north of Malibu, California, with Barbara Minty McQueen. She said her late husband often collected trucks on a whim even though they didn’t have the parking space at that time.
“Steve’s collection of cars and motorcycles cluttered the private driveway that serviced a row of homes near the beach, but that didn’t stop him from buying whatever he wanted,” Minty McQueen said. “I remember one time we drove past a migrant farm worker who had this bitchin’ old truck and Steve turned the car around and wrote him a check on the spot. He bought a plane or two that way, too.”
Most likely McQueen was attracted to this truck because of its painted grill, rounded hood and custom camper built by Harold Van Hoosen, a sheet metal fabricator from Yreka, California. Van Hoosen built the camper (named “Dust Tite”) in October 1952. The camper, made of galvanized metal and aluminum, includes a double-sided bed, storage cabinets, drawers, shelves and heavy-duty diamond plated bumper.
McQueen mostly used the truck for cross-country camping trips. A partial view of it can be seen in the Santa Paula barn in a photo from Grady Ragsdale's book “Steve McQueen: The Final Chapter.” This truck’s significance takes on greater historical importance as it was the last vehicle to transport McQueen from his Santa Paula home to the Ventura County Airport on Nov. 3, 1980. From there he would be whisked to El Paso, Texas, for his final cancer surgery in Juarez, Mexico. Accompanying McQueen in the camper was the Reverend Billy Graham. According to Graham, McQueen peppered him with questions of the afterlife on this ‘last ride.’ When they arrived at the airport, Graham read a number of passages of Scripture and they prayed several times. After “Amen,” Graham instinctively handed over his Bible to McQueen, which became his proudest possession. He was clutching the Bible when he passed away a few days later. As Graham turned to leave, McQueen proclaimed, “I’ll see you in heaven!”
The truck was first sold as Lot 626 at the Steve McQueen Estate Auction November 24-25, 1984 at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. It includes the original engine, body, frame and Forest Green paint. Other noteworthy features include a 6-cylinder engine, 4-speed transmission, 5-gallon gas tanks on running boards, a driver’s side spotlight, sun visor and two toolboxes. Also includes the original mattress and license plates. Sold with a certificate of authenticity from The McQueen Children's Trust, three registration slips, and an ownership certificate from Kenneth Ziffren, McQueen’s personal attorney.
Source: Mecum Auctions