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On Any Sunday

A two-stroke even I love. Before celebrity endorsement was commonplace Husqvarna already had two big hitters: all-round racer Malcolm Smith and Steve McQueen, movie star and uncontested arbiter of what was hip and cool, both rode Huskies. This 400 Cross was McQueen’s and featured in On Any Sunday, fuelling the rise of Husqvarna and motocross. Plus my wife’s sewing machine is a Husqvarna (she made her wedding dress with it) so I love their history. Perhaps more than any other motorcycle, it was the Husky strokers that killed the big four-strokes in scrambles and desert racing. During the late 1960s and 70s the Swedish company won 14 world championships and 11 Baja 1000s, plus countless ISDT medals. Once almost forgotten Husqvarna reinvented itself with two-stroke singles – first a 250, then a 360 that grew to 400cc – in lightweight steel frames with alloy tinware and steel tanks with chromed panels, preventing a rider's knees from spoiling the paint. The 400 Cross especially was a handsome, big-bore motocrosser combining fearsome power, fine handling and rakish good looks. The pic is one of the first 400 Cross models in the US bought in 1970 by McQueen. The Husqvarna became a movie star in its own right, featured in the beach riding scenes that closed On Any Sunday. It’s known as the Beach Bike thanks to the US military's love of paperwork. The sequence was shot at Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps facility on the Pacific Coast. McQueen persuaded them to allow access to the base's shoreline but before any riding could take place the Marines needed the bikes' numbers on file. Pendleton's Public Affairs Office duly noted: Mr Steve McQueen, Husqvarna MH-1341; Mr Malcolm Smith, Husqvarna MH-1221; Mr Mert Lawwill, Greeves 36MX4C319. Perhaps even more interesting is this bike came with what is thought to be McQueen's "lucky penny," a 1960 1 cent coin (son Chad was born that year) found tucked between the engine and frame. This pic shows the bike essentially as McQueen last raced it, sold in 2018 by Bonhams for US$230,500 (£ 189,713) - about 30 times what it would make without the history, proof of McQueen’s allure – and one reason I’m proud to work with Bonhams

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