Another Porsche 917K used in the racing film sold for $4 million.
When you think of Steve McQueen, you think of him tearing up the streets of San Francisco in a Ford Mustang 390 GT during the famous car chase in Bullitt. But before starring in 'Bullitt', Steve McQueen wanted to make a racing movie fueled by his passion for motorsport.
In the 1960s, McQueen started work on the Formula One racing movie Day of The Champion, but the project was ultimately scrapped. After Bullitt, his dream of making a racing movie was realized in the 1971 film 'Le Mans'. Unfortunately, the film was a financial flop and production was notoriously difficult, but Le Mans remains a cult classic for motorsport fans as the intense racing scenes still hold up today with footage shot at the actual 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now, one of the original cars used is coming up for auction.
One of the star cars in the film was a Porsche 917K - a short-tail or 'Kurzheck' version of the original 917 - finished in the iconic Gulf racing livery. To make the film as authentic as possible, the Porsche 917K used in Le Mans was a real race car and not a custom replica built for the film, unlike the Ford GT40 and Ferrari 275 GTB racers in Ford V. Ferrari. Before it starred in McQueen's passion project, the Porsche 917K raced in the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood, it was forced to retire after crashing in the rain on the 49th lap.
After the film, the 917K was repaired by Porsche and rebodied as a 917 Spyder. It then raced in three more seasons and performed strongly before being retired at the end of 1974.
In 2012, the iconic Porsche racer was restored back to its original Le Mans coupe specification, complete with the Gulf racing livery and the 5.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-12 engine developing around 580 horsepower. Now, the fully-restored race car is going under the hammer at RM Sotheby's Monterey Auction in August. The 1970 Porsche 917K is expected to fetch between $16 million and $18.5 million. It's not the only car from the film that has been sold, as in 2017, another 917K driven by Steve McQueen in the film sold for $14 million.
Last year, the Ford Mustang Steve McQueen drove in 'Bullitt' sold for $3.74 million, setting a new record for the most expensive Mustang to sell at auction at the time.