Who Wouldn’t Sell McQueen the Original Bullitt Mustang?
Imagine yourself flipping through the newspaper classifieds in 1972 when you happen upon the deal of a lifetime: the original Bullitt Mustang, and cheap. That is exactly the scenario that happened to an unidentified (by choice) 24-year-old man who bought up the car—complete with reams of documentation verifying its authenticity—and owns it to this day.
I say THE Bullitt Mustang, although there were really 2 1968 Mustang 390 GTs puchased by Warner Brothers for the Steve McQueen production. One of these was heavily modified with chassis re-enforcement and uprated suspension for the dramatic jumps and crashes that punctuate the legendary Bullitt chase sequence. The other car was left largely stock, aside from the aesthetic enhancements of stripping the driving lights, grille emblem, and most of the trim and badging and replacing the wheels with customs from American Racing. This second car is the one that our lucky buyer picked up in ’72.
Five years later Steve was fresh off his divorce from Allie McGraw and must have been feeling nostalgic. He contacted the owner of the Fastback and attempted to purchase her (letter above). Shockingly, he was denied. I suppose it might be for the best, however, as the current owner has no plans to sell nor restore the car. What’s more, by carefully remaining anonymous he has helped ensure that the car doesn’t become more incendiary McQueen fuel at auction houses. Unfortunately, that means that the Bullitt Mustang sits in a garage, hidden away. I don’t know which fate is worse.
Don’t let that get you down too much though, there’s a vibrant community that have exhaustively studied the film frame-by-frame to identify the parts and mods to make a replica of the Mustang. Here’s Motor Trend Classic’s take on it from their Sept. 06 issue.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch the chase scene itself again to compare notes. While I actually come in on the Ronin tunnel sequence side of the “Greatest Car Chase of All-Time” debate, it’s hard to deny the greatness of this bit of film.
I wonder if whatever collector has the Charger today still has all 8 hub caps.