Two years ago, we shared the crazy story of the 1979 Pontiac Trans Am that Steve McQueen drove in his final movie, The Hunter. And if you’re a McQueen fan, the story just got better: The car is for sale.
McQueen, who died three months after The Hunter was released in 1980, played bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson, a character he once described as “the only man who can do a bastard’s job with taste and come off looking like a nice guy.” The Trans Am met an early demise, putting only 1300 miles on the odometer before … BOOM!
Long story short: Seven black Trans Ams were used in the movie, and this one got the worst of it. The film production team rigged an explosion to break the car in two for a scene in which the bad guys steal the Pontiac and elude McQueen, who gives chase (through a corn field) in a combine harvester. Their escape is short lived, however, as the Trans Am is blown up by a lit stick of dynamite that they’d left for McQueen.
The crew pulled off the stunt by chaining the front end of the car to a nearby tree and accelerating in reverse. When the Trans Am reached the end of the chain, it triggered the explosives and separated the front subframe from the rest of the car. The two pieces were later reunited, and, surprisingly, much of the rest of the car is still intact.
So how is it that the dilapidated Trans Am still exists? We can thank McQueen. No, not Steve McQueen. Harold McQueen. (You just can’t make this stuff up.)
Harold McQueen, no relation to the movie star, was a local farmer who hauled the movie Trans Ams back and forth to different shooting locations in northern Illinois. Along the way, Harold became friendly with the crew, and as a thank you for his help, the production team gave him what was left of the blown-up Trans Am—verified and authenticated in a letter from Paramount Pictures.
The car’s front fenders and hood are missing, and the crew swiped its badges and side mirrors as souvenirs, but the Trans Am retains its original 403-cubic-inch Oldsmobile V-8 and four-speed automatic transmission. The interior is a bit crispy, but what did you expect?
In 2018, brothers Stan and Randy Harvell convinced Harold McQueen to sell them the car, and at the time the two were still trying to decide if they should restore it or show it off in its dilapidated state. (No need to adjust the volume; most of the video below is without sound.)
Looks like the Harvells chose a third option: The car is now owned by Calvin Riggs, and he is selling it through his Houston car dealership, Carlyle Motors. No price is listed; interested buyers are asked to call the dealership.
Perhaps The Hunter Trans Am is exactly the unique McQueen item you’ve been looking for, regardless if you’re a fan of “The King of Cool” or “The King of Crops.”