Monday, February 2, 2009

The Green Rat

Drinkin' and Dronin' posted an entry comprised of Life Magazine Steve McQueen candids. One image in particular captured my attention. Mr. McQueen climbing into his 1950s era Jaguar XKSS in BRG (aka British Racing Green), somewhere in Hollywood.

Now, I don't know squat about Brit sports cars other than the usual mythology (they have bad electrical, leak both oil and rain, and are some of the most beautiful rolling stock ever hand-hammered), so I did some research and came up with more background on the King of Cool's car. The XKSS was a street version of Jaguar's D-type racer. When the D-type started to get outclassed in races, no one wanted them, so the Coventry factory took the remaining examples (over 20 of them), and re-specced them for the road, by adding a full-width windscreen, a passenger seat and door, modifying the exhaust, and removing the vertical single tailfin. These modifications not withstanding, the XKSS was essentially a road-going race car. McQueen loved his, chassis #713, so much that he bought it twice. He affectionately named it "the Green Rat".

I found some nice images of the detailing of #713 from Motor Trend magazine, including the custom cubbyhole for McQueen's everpresent Persol sunglasses and the wood and steel vintage racing steering wheel.

Imagine that man and that car at that time in that town. Technically, he was married then (to international model Neile McQueen) and had a son, Chad, but I figure this is about as far from being OnceABachelor as you can be yet still qualify as one.

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