Currently residing in our collection is what many consider the most important Husqvarna motorcycle ridden and owned by Steve McQueen:
Everybody is familiar with the incredible photo of a shirtless Steve McQueen riding a Husky on the cover of the August 1971 edition of Sports Illustrated. Moreover, everyone is familiar with his iconic performance on a Husky in 'On Any Sunday'.
However, McQueen experts including Don Ince, a noted Steve McQueen and Husky historian believe that MF-1987 is the most important Steve McQueen Husky in the world because it was the FIRST Husky purchased by Steve McQueen and is the ONLY 1968 that he owned.
If McQueen had not seen MF-1987 being ridden at a race by WORLD CHAMPION and HALL OF FAMER Bengt Aberg in 1968, McQueen's connection with the Husky brand may never have begun and we would not even be talking about the (Steve McQueen) Huskies that followed it.
Including the Sport's Illustrated Husky!
McQueen fans know that up to seeing a Husky for the first time Steve had more closely been associated with Triumph motorcycles. McQueen had been riding the big 500 and 650cc Triumphs on Rickman Metisse frames.
Famously, he rode a Triumph TR6 in the chase scene in 1963's 'The Great Escape' which culminated in that extraordinary barbed wire jump performed by Steve's best friend, racing mentor and famous in his own right, Hollywood stuntman, Bud Ekins.
Most McQueen fan's know Steve was a bike nut but many do not realize how accomplished he was racing motorcycles in his own right.
Indeed, Steve's proudest moment on a bike was representing the USA at the 'Olympics' of trail riding at the 1964 International Six Day Trial (ISDT) in East Germany. Steve was one the 4-man USA team that included Bud Ekins, his younger brother Dave Ekins and Cliff Coleman. The race is commemorated in the book '40 Summers Ago... Hollywood behind the Iron Curtain' by Rin Tanaka and Sean Kelly, 2004. (See Attached photos)
Steve famously said: 'Life is racing... the rest is just waiting'.
Steve McQueen had always been infatuated with Triumph.
However, all that changed in 1968 at the Inter-Am series where there was a 4-track event in Carlsbad (North of San Diego), West Lake Village (North of Los Angeles), Santa Cruz (South of San Francisco) and Saddleback (South of Los Angeles).
At this event was Moto-cross Hall of Famer, Bengt Aberg. He was Husqvarna's top 500cc class rider. He went on to win the World Championship on a Husqvarna in 1969 and 1970. Aberg had come to the U.S. for the first time to race in the American Inter-Am and that was when Steve McQueen first set his eyes on Aberg and the new 2 stroke 360cc Husqvarna he was riding.
Steve had heard about this new light weight powerful 2 stroke made by Husqvarna which was becoming a big hit in the U.S. The 1968 Husqvarna Viking 360 was Husqvarna's serious entry in the 500cc open class. The 360cc was developed and evolved from their potent 250cc 2 stroke engine. The 360 had a bigger bore and stroke producing 37hp and weighing 215lbs so that the 360 could easily compete in the 500cc class.
After watching the 3rd race in Santa Cruz that Aberg had competed in, McQueen was so impressed with the bike's performance, he had to have one for himself.
He approached Aberg right there at the track to discuss his bike... Husqvarna Viking 360cc #MF-1987.
Steve bought the bike from Bengt on the spot and Edison Dye assigned Bengt a new motorcycle for the last race at Saddleback!
Edison Dye who is considered by many to be the father of motocross in the United States brokered the purchase by McQueen via his company Med-International who had become the exclusive U.S. importer and dealer of Husqvarna motorcycles (see attached paperwork and provenance).
The bike was shipped back to L.A. for Steve to ride and very shortly thereafter Steve was smitten with the brand. The rest is history.
MF-1987 has been examined and confirmed to be the first Husky and the ONLY 1968 owned by Steve McQueen (see attached picture) by the aforementioned Don Ince, the most noted Steve McQueen Husky historian who also happens to hold all of the documents of Edison Dye. Ince is the 'Marti Report' of Husqvarna for the Edison Dye period.
Ince was the expert brought in confirm the provenance of the Sports Illustrated Husky that was recently sold by Bonham's auctions on 6th of October, 2018.
Obviously, Steve McQueen went on to purchase more Husky's including the one he rode in the SI shoot. As a result, McQueen became inextricably linked to the brand that became the best 2-stroke for many years to come.
MF-1987 underwent a 14-month long concours quality restoration in 2014. The bike retains its original 360cc engine, 32mm Bing carburetor and a 4-speed gearbox. The paint is meticulous, chrome is in perfect shape and the bike shows zero wear and tear. The bike is immaculate and in full running condition. The points type ignition has been replaced with a PowerDynamo electronic ignition for easier starting, low maintenance and improved performance. (The original ignition was retained.)
The 1968 Husqvarna 360 Viking is a rare machine and the first of the Unlimited-class Husqvarna known for its excellent manners, reliability, power and race potential. It is clear why world class riders of the day were attracted to it.
No Hollywood Superstar, before or since, has been more famously connected to their 'Machines' than Steve McQueen.
Steve McQueen owned quite a few bikes and it seems that from time to time one will come up for sale. However, there are very few, if any, of his bikes that have the importance, paperwork and provenance and have had such a profound effect upon pop culture than MF-1987.
MF-1987 is a Steve McQueen collector's dream.