The star of arguably cinema's greatest chase was long thought to be lost to history, but it's just been in a New Jersey garage for a few decades. In 1968, as his celebrity was cresting, Steve McQueen produced and starred in Bullitt. He had been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor the year before for his dramatic role in The Sand Pebbles. But in the crime thriller, he played a tough San Francisco police detective, Frank Bullitt, who was battling a mob boss. The movie was moody and noir-ish, and a well-reviewed box-office hit. But despite all of this -- and co-stars Robert Vaughn, Robert Duvall, and Jacqueline Bisset -- Bullitt is recalled today mainly for its car chase, a 10-minute masterpiece shot in and around San Francisco, and completed in a souped-up, Highland Green, 1968 Ford Mustang fastback (and a 1968 Dodge Charger).
The scene helped the movie win the Oscar that year for film editing. Full-size replicas and best-selling toys were made of the car, and are still made today. So long is its shadow that Ford has even produced limited-edition versions of the Mustang as recently as 2009.
Two different, specially prepared Mustangs were used in filming. One was the "hero car" driven by McQueen throughout the film. The other was used mainly for the hardcore sections of the chase and jump scenes. Both were thought to be lost to the crusher, but the jump car was discovered in the spring of 2017 in a junkyard in Mexico.
Now, the car driven by McQueen has also been found, and it was just unveiled Sunday in Detroit, along with a new 2018 Bullitt-edition Mustang, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movie.
It's actually pretty cool that both of these cars turned up. Some other missing cars that have turned up in recent years are also very cool - such as the missing Shelby Daytona Cobra that won Daytona and set land speed records, Firebirds serial number 1 and 2, etc. It's great to see some history of famous or important automobiles preserved.
New technology helped a lot, the steady cam came out the previous year allowing the interior shots of the cars, especially the closeups. Earliest use of that tech I have heard of. I know that everyone is ga ga for these old muscle cars, but I have worked on them for years, they are not that great. They are very heavy, huge compared to today's cars, and worst of all they are under braked. Most only get about 13 miles to a gallon if you keep your foot off the floorboard. Sort of like my disillusion when I had to work on BMWs and Mercedes in Germany, they are just cars. They break fairly often.
Old news--had been found some months ago. The 390 engine made the Mustang giddyup in a straight line, but like most 60's cars couldn't handle in corners at speed. Crazy to think that McQueen did most of his own driving, and the late, great Bill Hickman was employed to drive the black Charger, handling a much bigger, better-looking car.
As for the movie, I could never get the entire plot, but love all the shots of one of the greatest cities in the world...
I actually saw this movie with my parents at the drive-in. Even as a little kid in second grade or whatever I was, I remember thinking, whoa, Steve McQueen is cool.
And DOCNJO, regarding BMWs, here's an unintentionally hilarious article you might appreciate:
Maybe they are just restricted so Nazi Sympathizers can't watch them.
Worked fine for me, both of them!
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