~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

If I Were A Rich Man - An Update

photo: Bonham's

Last year I did a blog entry on the Bonham's auction of some Steve McQueen goodies including his personal Belstaff jacket. That entry is here. I got an e-mail this weekend from Paul Brooks who is the CEO of British Motorcycle Gear. Paul corrected the error I'd made in referring to the Belstaff jacket Steve McQueen was wearing in the famous ISDT picture of him and also provided some info on the buyer of McQueen's jacket.

Above, not a Belstaff jacket at all but a Barbour International jacket. Good thing I made that entry last year or my perfect 2007 record would be shot. Here's a chunk of Paul's message about where McQueen's jacket went to after the auction and a bit of interesting history about the Barbour International jacket:

"The Jacket was purchased by the Italian Fashion House in Venice the same company that purchased Belstaff several years ago. They are coming out with a fashion line based on the Trialmaster Jacket called the Steve McQueen Line. I was the North American Distributor for Belstaff and we have taken over the production of the line under a new name "British Motorcycle Gear" see www.BritishMotorcycleGear.com . The jacket pictured on Steve McQueen is a Barbour International Jacket which is also available on our web site, you can tell straight off by the heavy slant of the left pocket, designed for quick draw of a pistol since this jacket was also used by submarine Captains in World War II...."

"...We will be at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in Glendale Arizona next October. We do the following Shows around the USA every year. All 13 Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows, Daytona 200, Laguna Seca GP race, Lake George Rally, Honda Hoot, Street Vibrations in Reno and BMW national Rally. We have all the gear at each of these shows if any of your readers want to check out the classics or the new lines.

Interesting story behind the Barbour becoming a Sub Commanders Jacket. When the Ursula was leaving port in Liverpool (first generation Submarine) during World War 2 the Queen was there to Christen her. It was pouring with rain and the second in command, a dirt bike racer, lent the Skipper his International Jacket to wear on the Bridge. The Queen thought he looked so dashing in it she decreed the jacket as the new Sub Commanders Coat."

Excellent story (Thanks, Paul!) about the Barbour jacket but I'm slightly sad to see the McQeen jacket wind up at a "fashion house." Still, Steve McQueen has lots of fans in Europe and as the old saying goes "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I'd be happy as a clam to imitate him on a Triumph Scrambler. I remain hopeful.
I poked around the British Motorcycle Gear web page and the jackets all look very nice and the prices seem more than reasonable for full featured riding jackets. Best of all, you can still find the genuine waxed cotton jackets there. Makes me want to buy a proper size 38 Belstaff jacket, another Suzuki 550 Indy, and go touring again just like I did in 1971.

Your's Truly returning from the road. 1971

On second thought, I'll take the Gold Wing or the Aprilia. I'm not as tough as I used to be. Touring on a 550cc three cylinder two-stroke bike has lost it's appeal. I don't have that much hair now, either. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

sounds like an urban legend, why would the pocket be slanted for a pistol if he borrowed the jacket? It was already made for pistols in case a submarine captain borrowed it? Thats B.S. The International jacket was just the Barbour rip off of the original Trialmaster. The slanted pocket is called a map pocket. The End.

Anonymous said...

The slanted pocket was made to allow easy access to soup, usually tomato. Occasionally mushroom. There was also a model fitted with a bullet proof liner in the back for British forces who have to be in front of yanks. Also, British jackets had a reinforced chest tape for medals and for hanging tea bags on. Thats all my facts for now. Off to clean the crud (English crud) off my Enfield.love from Blighty Blackhut

Anonymous said...

Sorry but your Ursula story is very wrong!
HMS Ursula didnt go to LIverpool,
If the reference of Queen means Elizabeth, she wasnt Queen during WW2.
The Sub Commanders coat is called the Ursula suit- a two piece waterproof made by Barbours. It was designed to keep those on watch dry and was the brainchild of Lt.Commander Phillips who was captain of none other than HMS Ursula!

Unknown said...

The International jacket was just the Barbour rip off of the original Trialmaster.

If this was true barbour must have had a hell of a lot of foresight, they were making them almost twenty years before belstaff started doing there version.

Belstaff copied the international but changed the pocket design because their version with less sewing of seams was cheaper to make and they were always a cheaper alternative to the proper thing........until the italians got hold of the brand anyway.

Nowadays what do you get for your money barbour £150 jacket with £80 label attatched , Belstaff £100 jacket with a £300 label attatched....I'll be feeping my old ones from when they were well made.

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