Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review of “McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon”

Book Review: “McQueen’s Machines:

 The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon”

         -Alan Arnell

As you might expect, I love Classic Cars.  The main focus of my blog posts is the Tri Five Chevy, including the Classic Chevrolet Hobby through my eyes.  That being said, I love all hot rod cars, sports cars and collector cars.  I also enjoy movies and have seen thousands.  

Back in the day, one of my favorite actors was Steve McQueen.  In the early 1980’s when I got my first top loader VCR, I only had a handful of VHS tapes to watch.  One of the tapes I owned was “American Graffiti” and another was “Le Mans” starring my car loving car and motorbike racing and favorite actor Steve McQueen.

I must have watched “Le Mans” a 100 times at least.  The movie started my quest for learning of Steve McQueen’s love of  fast cars and.motorcycles.   He is a famous person of my own heart’s desires and were he alive today he could very well compete with Jay Leo with a Youtube video series about classic cars or motorbike reviews.

Here is a film about dirt bike riding with Steve McQueen as an example of what I am talking about.  

“On Any Sunday” was renamed “Challenge 1” for some foreign markets.

Steve McQueen was a classic gear head and drove at times like a maniac both on the street and on the race track.  Ulike James Dean, Steve McQueen lived to tell the tales about his auto exploits to later 

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in life sadly succumb to lung cancer.  Steve McQueen was lucky in that he lived in a different world than today.  I wonder if today’s movie stars could do what Steve McQueen did in his cars and on his motorcycles and not be blasted for his or her exploits in the profitable tabloids? Steve McQueen was the real deal with his car and motorbikes.  He is well known for completing most of his own stunts.

Even though Steve McQueen made the movie “Le Mans” he still was a racer of the caliber, if not the success, of his “Le Mans” character Michael Delaney.  Steve McQueen, the race car driver-not the actor, raced in the 12-Hours of Sebring and almost won the race.  

Author Matt Stone has put together a quality and fun book with his publication of “McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon.” I have only just begun the book to only have only read the first 39 pages.  

However, I like the book so much I had to share about that fact before I will finish the book.  

So far, I have really enjoyed the Foreword Comments written by Chad McQueen who is the son of
Steve McQueen.  Chad McQueen knew his dad as well as anyone can know a Movie Star and their father.  Chad McQueen does a great job of setting up the theme of the book’s narrative.

Here is a short excerpt from Chad McQueen’s forward for the book:

“Ever since I was a kid, there were always cars and motorcycles around … He loved (Steve McQueen) all things mechanical.  ReCall the scene in “The Sand Pebbles” where he’s in the ship’s engine room, talking to the motor.  That was not acting.  That was just him.”

“McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon” is a fantastic read.  The book discusses the history of Steve McQueen’s cars and motorcycles that he owned and drove.  The author of the book has put together quite a collection of family and other forms
of photos.  I must admit, even though I have not read all the book’s text, I have looked at all the pictures at least twice.

Some of the photos in the book are legendary.  Just seeing some of the pictures will remind you of the number of posts shown of those photos portrayed many times on FaceBook and other medias.  However, what is a real thrill is seeing new personal photos you have never seen anywhere else.  The non famous photos gives you a real appreciation for the book.  

Famous pictures shown in the book include:  Steve McQueen and the motorcycle used in the movie “
the Great Escape’, standing by a Rolls Royce with Faye Dunaway from the “Thomas Crown Affair, ”Steve McQueen riding a dirt bike on the cover of Sports Illustrated, August 1971,  talking with Carroll Shelby as they admire a beautiful Shelby Cobra just to name a few.  

Non famous pictures shown are: A young Chad McQueen playing with his dogs around Steve McQueen’s stable of Porsches, Steve McQueen and co-star Faye Dunaway riding in a dune buggy, behind the scenes photos of Steve McQueen with his friends Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith from the film “On Any Sunday” and Steve McQueen just hosing down his hanger while drinking coffee.  Again, greatness!

Just looking at the photos is worth the price of the book.

If you love cars, racing cars, sports cars, motorcycle classics, motorcycle dirt bikes, a back in the day hot rodding story, the actor Steve McQueen and the movies, this book is a must read and a must have book.  I have mine on my coffee table and the book “McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon” has started many a pleasant conversation with car friends and non car friends alike.

I recommend the book.  

A description of the book  “McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon’s” cover written on the back cover:

“He helped build a hot rod before he could legally drive.  In the service, he hopped up a tank's engine in the hopes of getting it to go faster.  As a young acting student, he tore through Greenwich Village on his motorcycles.  In 1970. he nearly won the 12 hours of Sebring in a Porsche 908.  He raced buggies in Baja, rode motorcycles all over the word, and built entire movies around his love of automobiles and motorsports.  Beyond his status on the stage and screen, Steve McQueen was a certifiable motor head, and his new edition of  “McQueen’s Machines” celebrates his passion as a car enthusiast, racer and motorcyclist.”


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