Steve McQueen is one of those men who are forever going to be synonymous with gasoline-powered, two-wheeled transportation. During his life he raced motorcycles competitively, he rode them for fun and he rode them in films, perhaps most famously in the ‘The Great Escape’.
Of all the motorcycles he would go onto own, his first motorcycle would always occupy a special place in his heart. It was a simple, beat-up old Indian Chief but McQueen bought it with his own money long before he was famous and he would talk about it in interviews with his biographer decades later.
McQueen’s biographer, William Nolan, told the story of how in the fall of 1951 Steve had “…saved enough money to buy a battered cycle with a sidecar (removed at an unstated time), which he proudly tooled around the Village. ‘It was my first bike and I loved it,’ admitted Steve. ‘But I was going with a girl who began to hate the cycle – just hated riding in the bumpy sidecar. She told me, ‘Either the cycle goes or I go!’ ‘Well, there was no contest. She went.'” McQueen was working in New York City and that battered old cycle was the 1946 Indian Chief you see pictured here.