Dune buggy McQueen drove in Thomas Crown Affair headed to auction

Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in the dune buggy during the shooting of The Thomas Crown Affair. Photo copyright MGM Studios

CARMEL, Calif. – Bonhams – the auction house most closely associated with the King of Cool – will be auctioning the very car in which Steve McQueen took Faye Dunaway on an exhilarating, white-knuckled ride in the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair.

Like the car chase on the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt, the ride on the beach of Massachusetts in Thomas Crown is the stuff of legend. The Hollywood film captivated global audiences and brought the Meyers Manx – the first true “dune buggy” – to the attention of the world. Not only that, but the movie reaffirmed McQueen’s affinity for and capability in motoring, as well as helped catapult the talented and beautiful Dunaway to A-list stardom. To simply say this movie influenced popular culture would be a gross understatement indeed.

First, Bonhams sold the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow driven in the movie for a model world record. Then Bonhams sold the Persol sunglasses worn by McQueen in the movie for another world record. Now, the company is set to auction the most famous “prop” of all from The Thomas Crown Affair.
The Meyers Manx, developed by SoCal native Bruce Meyers, was the embodiment of the California lifestyle – sun, sand, sea and free livin’ – all in a compact, open-air, go-anywhere funmobile. McQueen’s love for cars and bikes was already well established and it was his influence that brought this distinctly American vehicle into the film directed by Norman Jewison.

Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in the dune buggy during the shooting of The Thomas Crown Affair. Photo copyright MGM Studios

Unlike any other Manx, however, McQueen enlisted the help of motor legend Pete Condos of Con-Ferr fame to build a completely customized and totally unique vehicle. In a period documentary about the movie, McQueen said, “Crown lives at the beach and he has a dune buggy. I helped them design it, so I’m kinda proud of that. It’s set on a Volkswagen chassis with big ol’ wide weenies – big wide tires on mag wheels, Corvair engine stuffed in the back…It’s very light, you know (because of the fiberglass body). It’s pulling about 230 horses and weighs about a thousand pounds.”
This iconic, singular and world-famous dune buggy that McQueen helped design and then masterfully drove with no stunt double, will be offered for sale at Bonhams’ annual Amelia Island, Florida auction next March. In anticipation of this exciting news, the Thomas Crown dune buggy will be on view August 14-16 at Bonhams’ auction tent at Quail Lodge in Carmel, California, where Bonhams will also be offering Steve McQueen’s personal 1949 Chevy 3100 Pickup Truck.
Click to view additional information about Bonhams’ Quail Lodge sale during Pebble Beach Car Week.
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