Steve McQueen has been dead for almost 40 years, but the family of the actor is suing Ferrari for something truly bizarre – a paint job.
While Ferrari wouldn’t be the first company to face claims of a bad paint job, this has nothing to do with the finish and everything to do with the name. The story starts back in 2016 when Ferrari commissioned its Tailor Made division to develop “70 liveries inspired by the most iconic models from its history.”
The liveries were created to celebrate Ferrari’s 70th anniversary and several models with the retro paint jobs made their debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. Among them were an F12berlinetta dubbed “The Stirling” and a 488 GTB called “The Schumacher.”
Ferrari also decided to pay tribute to the Bullitt star by naming a brown California T “The Steve McQueen.” The company apparently felt this was a fitting tribute as the actor previously owned a brown Ferrari.
Having a paint job named after you isn’t the greatest honor, but Ferrari probably believed it won’t be an issue and would tie in nicely with its 70th anniversary. Unfortunately, the McQueen family felt differently.
According to Court House News, via Car and Driver, McQueen’s family filed a lawsuit against the automaker in Los Angeles County Superior Court on July 30th. The lawsuit says Chadwick McQueen – Steve’s son – met with Ferrari’s president and chairman to discuss a limited edition Ferrari McQueen in 2011. The lawsuit goes onto say this special edition could bare the McQueen name “provided he (Chadwick) and his family would maintain approval rights and involvement in the project.”
It doesn’t appear an agreement was reached and the lawsuit alleges the McQueen family was “shocked when they learned, in 2017, that Ferrari had, without notice or authorization, begun marketing and selling a special edition … that Ferrari entitled ‘The McQueen,’ and that Ferrari marketed through use of Steve McQueen’s persona.” The lawsuit adds Ferrari promoted the model on its website and in a brochure that featured a photo of the actor with a Ferrari.
The family complained to Ferrari and they reportedly responded by renaming the model “The Actor.” However, the lawsuit says the automaker continued to point out that Steve McQueen owned a 250 GT Berlinetta in the revised promotional material.
The family is reportedly seeking $2 (£1.5 / €1.7) million for violating a registered trademark as well as for punitive damages. It remains unclear who will be victorious, but the family’s outrage over Ferrari noting a historical fact seems misplaced.