Now, you have the opportunity to own one of Steve McQueen’s actual bikes. His 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E Big Twin. In-keeping with the glitzy, Hollywood theme, the Big Twin will be up for auction at the Bonhams sale later this month in Las Vegas. Late-1912 8hp Harley twins are rare, as mid-year the engine capacity was increased from 49cu” to a full 60cu”, making a more powerful and desirable machine, and the first Big Twin.
This matching-numbers 1912 Harley-Davidson retains its original cylinders (with perfect fins) and matching engine/cylinder barrel stampings, and a one-year-only crankcase breather/primry chain lubricator. It was purchased at the 1984 Steve McQueen estate auction at the Imperial Palace hotel in Las Vegas (Lot #525), and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Terry and Chad McQueen. It is believed that Steve rode this Harley in at least one Pre-1916 event, and of course the distinctive paint scheme, with one tank bearing its original paint, is the subject of discussion; did Steve McQueen and his buddy Von Dutch rattle-can paint the bike red after a late-night drinking session, as some claim? Given McQueen’s known love and connoisseurship of early American motorcycles, we wonder…but then again, both men had an eccentric sense of humor, and were known to pull stunts under the influence of whiskey (or worse).
This ex-Steve McQueen 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E is in full running condition, and it appears the original factory paint lurks under that distinctive red brush job. Will the new owner will keep that red paint as Steve maintained it, or attempt to discover the original factory job? In any case, the bike has a fantastic story. It should be noted that after Steve McQueen’s ownership, the wheel rims were upgraded for actual riding, and a headlamp added for vintage rallies.
The Bonhams sale will take place on January 26 at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.