This Forgotten British Motorcycle Was One Of Steve McQueen's Favorites

Steve McQueen is an icon to car and motorcycle fans worldwide. He collected some of the finest racing hardware of his day, helped give the '68 Mustang the legendary status it deserved, and of course, loved motorcycles. In fact, McQueen was famous for talking filmmakers into working his hobby into their stories, pushing for a motorcycle sequence in "The Great Escape," among others.

Like any good gearhead, McQueen even had an unsung, unusual ride he was particularly fond of. Motorcycle Classics puts McQueen's motorcycle collection at over 200, but among the Harleys, Triumphs, Husqvarnas, and sundry two-wheeled legends (per Hagerty), he described something completely different as "the best handling bike I've ever owned."

One obscure British bike held the key to McQueen's heart, especially after he'd given it a suitable custom job. According to Hagerty, the same ride captured the attention of legendary stuntman and motocross racer Bud Ekins, who doubled for McQueen in some of his most dangerous stunts.

A British classic gets some American muscle

The bike in question was the Rickman Métisse, and per Hagerty, the one that won Steve McQueen's heart was 1966's Mk3. The Rickman Métisse Mk3 didn't need McQueen's approval to establish itself as a serious performer — as Métisse itself reports, the bike had already racked up major racing wins — including multiple victories at Motocross des Nations and several Grands Prix — before McQueen got his hands on it.

That said, McQueen made the bike a star. Bud Ekins and his brother Dave were both friends of McQueen, and were sufficiently impressed by the Métisse, becoming the bike's American importers. McQueen worked directly with the Ekins brothers to design and build a custom rig that took the already excellent Métisse Mk3 to the next level. The result was so successful that Métisse still offers a limited-run replica, the Desert Racer, that exactly matches McQueen's specs.