Steve McQueen’s Great Escape Triumph to Be Shown in Public for the First Time

1962 Triumph 650cc TR6R 2 photos
Photo: Triumph
Triumph Great Escape stunt
Back in 1963, Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Richard Attenborough showed the world how British Commonwealth prisoners of war managed to pull of a mass escape from the Stalag Luft III prisoners of war camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The movie recounts a real event which occurred in 1943. During this actual historical escape, there was no motorcycle used to jump over barricades and a 12 feet barbed-wire fence, nor were any Americans imprisoned in the camp.

But Hollywood is Hollywood, so the movie’s version features both. The motorcycle used by McQueen and his stunt double, Bud Ekins, was a 1962 Triumph 650cc TR6R.

The producers of the movie decided to use a modern-day Triumph as the real World War II motorcycles were not sturdy enough to withstand the ordeal the movie makers were planning for them. Three TR6R models were artificially aged to give the impression they belong to the epoch.

The Triumph TR6R chosen was a bike much to McQueen’s liking. He enjoyed the two-wheeler so much that he insisted over and over with the producers of the movie to allow him to perform his own stunts. He wasn’t allowed to, so Ekins had to take the machine by its grips and give hell to the Germans.

The motorcycle that was actually used in the movie is currently on display at the Triumph Factory Visitor Experience at Hinckley in Leicestershire. Triumph says that since it was featured in the movie, the motorcycle was never shown in public. This will change this August, during the Chubb Insurance Concours d’Elégance event at Blenheim Palace.

At the Concours, the bike will be competing in the Class B category (motorcycles built between 1940 and 1979) on August 31, taking the stage together with a “mouth-watering array of iconic motorcycles which will be vying for honors at Blenheim Palace across three classes.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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