It’s no secret that we’re experiencing at least a partial resurgence of print magazines. And one of the greatest names that drive that in our social media-dominated times is Playboy. For one, while the original American issue is no longer regularly printed, having moved to the digital medium after its March 2020 issue in the wake of the global health crisis, the paper edition is still happening over in Germany where this story comes from. Among others, this tale allows us to look back on the relationship between Hollywood symbol Steve McQueen, his beloved automobiles and his uber-popular movies.
To mark its 50th anniversary, Playboy Germany, which made for the first edition outside the US and one of the few that have survived in print, has invited just as many artists to design custom covers for limited issues of the magazine.
The names on the list come from multiple disciplines, ranging from photography to painting and performance art. And the cover that brought us here comes courtesy of Camilo Rios White (aka Riocam), featuring the said Steve McQueen dune buggy.
The fashion photog, which has been based in Miami for over a decade now, always brings a retro twist to Instagram. His high-on-glamor images portray the beauty of the female body next to exotic cars in a way that reminds us of era when such work faced less challenges than today.
And for the #42 (out of the said 50) Playboy Germany 2022 cover, Camilo cast his “partner in crime”, German-born model and model manager Maxine Schiff in the role of the bunny.
Steve McQueen has the dune buggy customized for the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair
As for the red piece of motorized insanity we have here, the Steve McQueen machine made headlines back in 2020 when it traded hands for $456,000. Sure, that’s just a fraction of the money the actor’s 1968 Mustang from Bullit fetched during the said year (think: $3.74M). However, that difference might make sense if we consider that the otherwise impressive Meyers Manx was a kit car built on VW bits.
For the record, the fibeglass kit, which didn’t include the mechanical bits, cost somewhere around $600 when it was introduced back in the mid-1960s (that would be about $5,000 in today’s money).
Californian engineer and boat builder Bruce Meyers came up with this kit car as an alternative to the heavier AWD trucks that would often get stuck on the beach (his passion for surfing required a beach-ready machine).The machine featured a shortened Volkswagen Beetle chassis and running gear, so the whole deal was rather affordable too.
Still, knowing all to well that he would manhandle the machine in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair with Faye Dunaway, McQueen had the machine modded in terms of both the aesthetics and the firepower—the actor famously handled his own stunt driving.
The sleeker headlights, speedboat-style greenhouse and custom interior, which featured a quilted pattern and dedicated handbrakes for each rear wheel (the slides demaneded it), remained the same when the vehicle was sold after production ended. However, the vehicle would gain a highly modded VW motor.
Fortunately, the 2.7L Chevy Corvair engine that helped The King of Cool fly over the dunes for the camera returned as part of a complete restoration made in the late 1980s. And we’re glad to see that the man who bought the vehicle (aka meyersmanxoutlaw on Instagram) is letting the buggy that inspired a whole trend enjoy some time under the sun. Oh, and by the way, this isn’t the first Meyers Manx that can be seen through the photographer’s lens (more on this below).
A whole world of such images
There’s another man who made this possible, namely Florian Boitin, the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Playboy Germany. He was also the one who preserved Playboy creator Hugh Heffner’s original vision for the German edition when the American magazine went through a controversial time last decade. Between March 2016 and the same month of 2017, the U.S. edition removed most nude photos. For the record, Heffner, who created the brand in 1953, stepped down in 2016 and passed away in Septmber 2017.
However, his legacy lives on in any medium, with this story being an example as good as any. You see, the vehicle choice goes deeper than it might appear, as McQueen was a friend of Heffner and visited the Playboy Mansion on multiple occasions.
Returning to Riocam, his Playboy cover speaks of the limited issue’s trip back to the 1960s, the era that marked the birth of so many high-profile automotive symbols, such as the Lamborghini Miura, which became the first modern supercar. And you’ll find a whole world populated by models and such automobiles on his Instagram.