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This is where you will find all the information on which machines have most recently been displayed within the National Motorcycle Collection

1961Triumph T110 650cc Steve McQueen “Great Escape” Replica-Photo Studio, Hall 2

If there’s one film scene which everyone remembers it’s the bike chase in The Great Escape. After dozens of failed escape attempts ‘The Cooler King’, played by the inimitable Steve McQueen, finally makes it to within sight of freedom. He roars across the countryside on his stolen “BMW” pursued by a hoard of manic Nazi motorcyclists intent on his death.If there’s one film scene which everyone remembers it’s the bike chase in The Great Escape. After dozens of failed escape attempts ‘The Cooler King’, played by the inimitable Steve McQueen, finally makes it to within sight of freedom. He roars across the countryside on his stolen “BMW” pursued by a hoard of manic Nazi motorcyclists intent on his death.
With no possible escape, great or otherwise, our hero chooses a glorious finale. Winding the bike up to maximum revs, he makes an incredible jump across the 12-foot high barbed wire fence. Stuck in No Man’s Land he roars about a bit before crashing into another fence. He’s then led away by the Nazis and thrown back into solitary.
It’s brilliant cinema – but the story behind the filming of this scene is an epic in itself. Although McQueen did not jump the fence himself, he was far more than just an actor who could ride motorcycles.In fact, McQueen was an international quality racer and an avid motorcycle fan. And the man who had introduced Steve to motorcycles was Bud Ekins – a legend amongst Californian bike racers.
Bud’s prowess as a rider was matched by his business skills and in 1955 he became a Triumph dealer. In a few years, he had become the biggest Triumph dealer in the world with a turnover topping £500,000 – at a time when a nice detached house in Britain was £2000! In between racing and selling bikes, Bud appeared in over 500 films during 25 years as a stuntman and coordinator & happily agreed to do the Great Escape jump for his friend McQueen .
Today, the thought of using a road bike in a film stunt would be unthinkable. But in 1963 the world was a very different place. In many ways it wasn’t so much which bike would Bud Ekins and Steve McQueen use for The Great Escape, but simply that there was only one choice – a Triumph TR6 650cc twin painted in olive drab!
A key factor for the film crew was that the Triumph was very much their bike and they knew it back to front – even though it was designed and built in England. With the demands of the jump there was no way that the “correct” Wehrmacht BMWs with their low power flat twin engines and rigid frames would have been up to the job!
Our replica of this most famous Triumph is based around a 1961 Triumph Tiger T110 650cc machine with modified rear frame and has been reproduced as faithfully as possible by the museums very own restoration team.

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Steve McQueen
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