Motorclassica 2016 stars Steve McQueen's motorcycle and other classic wheels

Steve McQueen's 1963 Triumph Bonneville is the headline act at this year's 2016 Motorclassica.

The Triumph, nicknamed The Desert Sled, was built by the Hollywood actor's stuntman and racing partner, Bud Eakins.

The Triumph was later painted by Kenny Howard, better known as 'Von Dutch' from which the God-awful late 1990s fashion label gets its name.

"The bike is definitely one of the standouts of the show," says event director Paul Mathers. "It's extra significant because our special guest this year is none other than Steve McQueen's son, Chad."

Vintage veterans

Motorclassica is considered the most prestigious car and bike show on the annual calendar and attracts more than 20,000 autophiles each year. This year's event, held at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building will see 115 classic cars participate in the concours d'Elegance, while participating car clubs around Victoria and New South Wales will arrive with more than 400 cars for punters to check out.

The oldest car in show will be an 1896 Benz Velocipede. "The Velocipede was pretty much the first large production run of Benz, and is probably the only one in Australia," says Mathers. "In the past it has participated in the London to Brighton rally a couple of times."

Thirsty Mercs

Mercedes Benz will be the Motorclassica's major auto sponsor for the fourth year in a row and is set to have a huge presence at the event. The marque will commemorate 130 years since the creation of the first automobile, with a special display of Merc's through the decades. It will also include the unveiling of what is tipped to a be a new variant on the S Class range.

Most Mercedes Benz models will be available to test drive on a short course adjacent to the Exhibition Building, including some barnstorming versions from AMG. Or you could choose to be chauffeured around the city streets in an S Class to see how the other half lives.

Headline bling

Mathers says one of the headline cars of the show is a 1936 540K Mercedes Benz cabriolet. "It's a car desired by collectors from around the world," he says.

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"The history of the car dates back to the Nazi regime when it was owned by Ernst Heinkel (the inventor of the first turbojet aircraft and rocket aircraft) and it would be worth in excess of $5 million. When it first arrived here in the early 1980s, it was the most expensive car in Australia."

Other standouts of the Motorclassica will include a Ferrari 512BB that was once owned by F1 driver Jensen Button, and an Auburn 852 convertible previously owned by cricket legend Don Bradman.

Historic prices

"The stories behind these cars are as important and interesting as the cars themselves," says Mathers. A show such as this throws up a kaleidoscope of history that is quite incredible."

As part of the event, Australia's oldest auction house, Theodore Bruce, will see 40 classic vehicles go under the hammer. The most significant lots include a Ford XY GTHO Phase III with an estimate of $400,000 to $450,000, and a 1960 Mercedes 190SL roadster expected to fetch up to $250,000.

Motorclassica will be held at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building from Friday, October 21 – Saturday, October 23. Tickets are $35.