McQueen, who died of cancer in 1980, took possession of the car in 1976. The car was subsequently owned by movie producer Floyd Mutrux and Dean Paul Martin, son of the singer Dean Martin. The car was brought to the Mecum auction by car restorer Mike Regalia.
When a car’s history is steeped in so much of what makes the hearts of enthusiasts race with excitement, when every single aspect of a car and its background come together in a perfectly packaged representation of an icon, a role model, and hero to many, that car is no longer ‘just’ a great car. It comes to embody the life and legacy of the people behind it, the people who have loved it and given it its place in the spotlight.
Steve McQueen’s 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera does just that and will continue to do so with its sale set to benefit McQueen’s alma mater, the Boys Republic.
“This car is rich in history,” says McQueen’s son Chad. “This is the last of the McQueen cars, really. That’s known. That’s real.”
McQueen’s untimely death in 1980 at age 50 made this 1976 Porsche 930, chassis 9306800408, the very last of his special-order cars.
McQueen’s insatiable need for speed and his affinity for fine automobiles meant always having the best sets of wheels. His Porsche 930 is no exception. Capable of producing 234 HP at 5,500 RPM, the matching-numbers four-speed car came equipped with the rare early production non-intercooled 3.0 liter engine, no. 6860413, with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and was special ordered from Bob Smith Porsche in Hollywood. McQueen specified that the car be delivered with sunroof, dual mirrors, limited-slip differential and black sport seats, and the original paint tag showing McQueen’s special-order paint code 615-9-2 (Slate Gray) is still riveted to the door jamb. But as fine as the car was when delivered, McQueen had even more in mind for it.
“My dad had little things done to it,” Chad says. “Like on the dashboard, he had a switch put on so it would kill the rear lights in case he was being chased on Mulholland Drive.”
McQueen also switched out the wheels after taking possession, notes the Porsche’s current owner, car collector and restorer Mike Regalia. “Later he put the 8s and 9s on it. It came with 7s and 8s, which were the standard wheels he ordered. Then he put 8s and 9s on it; but you know, all of those are personal touches that Steve had done—and he didn’t do many to it—Porsche 930 Turbo Carreras were pretty out-of-the-box balls-out cars.”
McQueen wasn’t the only one who took full advantage of all the power and speed the car was capable of. Chad still remembers when his dad first took delivery of the car, nearly four decades ago, and tells the story of his own joy rides behind the wheel of the 930.
“When the Porsche RSR Turbo came out in 1974, I was so enamored with it, I just couldn’t wait to drive the road car. My dad got this 930 Turbo in 1976, and I didn’t have to wait any longer,” he says. “I was 15 at the time, and he was out of town for a week. Every day, sometimes twice in the same day, I’d open the garage, turn the key, give the car a stealthy roll down to the cul-de-sac, fire it up and take off.
“But, Julia, the woman who was there to look after me—my friends called her ‘The Chad Wrangler’—caught wind of what I was doing. True to form, she told my dad.”
Chad continues, “My dad called me, to let me know he’d be gone for two more days. So the next morning, same routine, I fire up the car and head out. As I’m accelerating down the two-lane beach road I see a yellow taxi-cab closing in from the opposite direction. Inside that cab, I see two of the biggest blue eyes in the world. My dad was on his way home. I didn’t know whether to go to Mexico or what. I also discovered what happens when you lift off in a corner with a Turbo; it was like, ‘Holy S$&@&!’"
A car as fine as the Turbo demanded top dollar, and this one’s ownership history speaks to that with other successful Hollywood names on the list. After a few years spent enjoying it, McQueen sold the car back to Bob Smith Porsche, and it was then sold to movie producer and writer Floyd Mutrux. Following Mutrux’s period of ownership, singer Dean Martin’s son—actor Dean Paul Martin—took possession of the car and owned it until his tragic death when his National Guard jet fighter crashed in 1987. The Porsche passed through a short list of other owners over the next two decades (always remaining in the Southern California area) including Bill Susdorf, who had the car mechanically and cosmetically refreshed in the early ‘90s, ensuring that all of the work done was documented and all service records were retained.
Since Regalia took possession of the car in 2008, he has done nothing more than what was necessary to keep the car in good operating condition. Even as an expert in restoration work, Regalia opted to keep the car in as true-to-original condition as possible, recognizing immediately that it occupied a truly unique place in history.
Ordered at the pinnacle of McQueen’s success, the car serves as a reminder and representation of all that Steve McQueen struggled through to reach the heights that he did. It is well-known that McQueen’s childhood was extremely turbulent—tragic, even—and there is one place in particular that McQueen credits with bringing him back from the brink of self-destruction: The Boys Republic, a reform school for troubled youth.
“He always made sure he took care of this place,” says Chad about Boys Republic. “It was a big part of his life, and he told me one day, he said, ‘Son, this is the one place that turned my life around.’”
As a 1946 alumnus of the school, McQueen had been enrolled after narrowly escaping jail time for various crimes including fighting and stealing. Having grown up with little in the way of parental support, McQueen was the very definition of a troubled youth. His father abandoned him and his relationship with his mother was touch-and-go at best and rife with turmoil. His time at Boys Republic showed him that there were, in fact, people in this world who wanted the best for him and were willing to go out of their way to ensure that he succeeded.
“It meant a lot to my dad the way that it transformed him,” says Chad. “I mean, he could have easily been in jail for the rest of his life. He called it the hoosegow. ‘I could have easily ended up in the hoosegow if it wasn’t for this place,’ he’d say.”
McQueen’s rise to success in the years following his time at the school were not coincidental, and he did more than merely speak the school’s praise. McQueen took it upon himself to support both the school and the students that attend it, and he continued to do so up until the time of his death.
Since his passing, McQueen’s family and friends, and even some of his fans, have continued to support the school in his memory and out of their own beliefs about the amazing work the school is doing in its mission to help troubled youth.
Steve McQueen felt that, at least in part, he owed his success to the Boys Republic. As a piece of automotive history that truly embodies that success, it is only fitting that his 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera will follow McQueen’s lead and carry on his philanthropic endeavors. In homage of a great man and in support of the school that helped him become just that, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Turbo will be donated to the Boys Republic.
“I think what we’re going to create here [with the offering of this car] is really the life story of Steve McQueen; the life story of what the Boys Republic meant to Steve McQueen,” says Regalia. “I think the future owner of this car is getting all of that, in addition to getting a truly great collector car.”
Offered with a Porsche Certificate of Authenticity, extensive service records, the original owner’s manual, original tools and original sales brochures, this 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo—the last of the McQueen cars—will serve as an excellent centerpiece in the collection of its next caretaker. And not only will the new owner be obtaining a stunning piece of automotive and movie icon history, they will also be giving back to a school that’s changed the lives of countless troubled youth, including the King of Cool’s.