The Steve McQueen effect: how it drives up classic car prices

July 16, 2014, 2:25 PM UTC
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4 ex Steve McQueen
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4 ex Steve McQueen
Courtesy: RM Auctions

One of the most legendary of all Ferrari GTs is the 275 GTB, but not all 275s are created equal. There are two- and four-cam versions, lightweight alloy bodies, “long noses,” coupes and convertibles. The record was a 1967 275 GTB/4 S N.A.R.T. Spider that RM Auctions sold in August 2013 for $27.5 million. Although that was an astounding record for any Ferrari, according to RM’s Ian Kelleher, you won’t be able to pocket the keys for a good one for much less than $3 million these days.

This August, RM Auctions is selling another rare-air version: Steve McQueen’s ’67 275 GTB, a pristine specimen that was recently factory-restored and certified. Usually when Maranello waves its (exorbitant!) restoration wand over a vintage car, it adds value. But in this case, the real multiplier is the car’s first owner, the King of Cool. McQueen ordered the car with a few custom touches—a bespoke side mirror (only one) and Chianti Red paint, among others. He had it delivered to him on the set of “Bullitt.”

According to RM, the fact that McQueen owned the car triples its value. That means that come August, it should sell for anywhere between $9 to $12 million or more. That’s a heck of a lot of cool—cash.

There’s another, less pricey purported McQueen car up for sale by RM this summer: A 1970 Chevy El Camino SS in Hugger Orange. The restored sports car/pickup has only 26,000 original miles and carries an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.