Universal is getting in gear for “Drive,” optioning James Sallis’ novel about a Hollywood stunt driver as a starring vehicle for Hugh Jackman and setting it up with Marc Platt.

Jackman and partner John Palermo will also produce through their Seed Prods. banner.

Sallis’ noir-style story, set in the seamy underside of Southern California and Arizona, centers on a stuntman who moonlights as a wheelman during robberies and discovers that a contract has been put on him.

“We see it as a great Steve McQueen-type role for Hugh,” Palermo told Daily Variety.

Sallis, who’s repped by APA, first penned “Drive” as a short story in the anthology “Measures of Poison,” then expanded it to novella length and sold it to Poisoned Pen Press, which published it last September. He’s the author of the six-novel series set in New Orleans featuring detective Lew Griffin and crime novels such as “Cypress Grove.”

Platt execs Adam Siegel and Jared LeBoff brought “Driver” into the shingle. U prexy of production Jon Gordon and VP Jeff Kirschenbaum will oversee for the studio.

Jackman will next be seen in the third “X-Men” pic. He’s also voicing roles in DreamWorks’ “Flushed Away” and Warner’s “Happy Feet” and starring in Woody Allen’s “Scoop,” Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” and Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige.” Seed Prods. projects in the works include “X-Men” spinoff “Wolverine,” “Fed X,” “If You Could See Me Now” and “Rebound Guy.”

Universal-based Platt is producing the Marla Ruzicka project for Par with Kirsten Dunst attached. He’s working on a 9/11 miniseries for ABC and is a producer on the hit Broadway tuner “Wicked.”