Monday, August 31, 2009

Steve McQueen and his Great Escape

In the iconic 1963 war movie, The Great Escape, McQueen's character "The Cooler King" carries out one of the most daring motorcycle stunts ever performed on film as he attempts to escape from the Stalag Luft III prison camp.

The bike was meant to be a BMW that he stole from the German prison guards, but in reality was McQueen's own Triumph 650cc Tiger. In a 1966 interview with Popular Science magazine, McQueen explained why he opted to fit a Triumph twin engine to his favorite Rickman-Metisse machine:

"I used a 650cc Triumph engine as a power plant for this bike. The drive train and gearbox are also Triumph. I prefer the big four-stroke engine, but on a light bike."

In 2008, Metisse Motorcycles released a limited edition Metisse Desert Racer fully endorsed by the Steve McQueen estate and featuring his signature on each one of the exact replicas. The bikes are identical to the one that he rode.

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