Ferrari in court over brown paint

McQueen family sues Ferrari for unauthorised trademark use

Mcqueen Fez Jpg

The family of Hollywood and motoring icon Steve McQueen is suing Ferrari for a 2016 paint colour that borrowed the name of the deceased actor without permission.

As part of the Italian car maker’s 70th anniversary celebrations, Ferrari created 70, yes 70 Style Icon unique paint jobs for a selection of its then current models to commemorate personalities that have shaped the brand’s history, including a California T that was dressed up in a dark brown finish.

The relatively restrained shade, says Ferrari, was in honour of the screen star who once owned a 1963 250GT Lusso in Marrone Metallic but, according to, the actor’s family claims that, while Ferrari approached McQueen’s son Chadwick in 2011 regarding the use of the trademarked name, an agreement was never reached.

As such, the family is seeking US$2m per violation plus damages (A$2.7m) for breaching a registered trademark.

In response, Ferrari removed any reference to McQueen in the colour moniker and renamed its special paint simply The Actor, but this wasn’t enough to appease the McQueen family, which remains unhappy that the car maker continues to make a reference to The Great Escape and Bullitt star in promotional material.

Like each of the 70 retro paint themes, The Steve McQueen livery was strictly limited to one example of each of the company’s five models (not just the California), guaranteeing the five The Actor cars (and 350 Style Icon vehicles) would be unique worldwide.

But it seems just five vehicles wearing Steve adornment are enough to warrant legal action from the McQueen family.

The same is not so of Michael Schumacher’s brand trustees, or the family of Stirling Moss, neither of which have objected to the use of the respective surnames in other Seventy Style Icon Ferrari’s.

The McQueens do not appear disgruntled at Ford’s exclusive Mustang Bullitt, which doesn’t slap the family name on the green limited edition coupe, but does make numerous references to the actor in materials promoting the retro variant.


How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at


Subscribe to Wheels magazine

Subscribe to Wheels Magazine and save up to 44%
Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.




2021 Mercedes-Benz EQA350 4Matic coming to Australia

Mercedes-Benz EQA350 4Matic electric SUV confirmed for Australia

Mercedes-Benz Australia's new EQA250 small electric SUV will be joined later this year by a faster and even more sure-footed variant

17 hours ago
Mike Stevens

We recommend

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.