BULLITT - The most
famous car chase movie
starring The Mustang and Steve McQueen
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I think we don't need to explain, what this movie is about.
For those who never heard of it, the movie has indeed a story, but there is no doubt about it that this is second to the most famous car chase scene with a Highland green 68 Mustang Fastback powered by a 390/4V big block engine and a black Dodge Charger 440 R/T.
This webpage was not set up for a summary of the movie plot, but to let you have a look from behind the steering wheel, smell the burning rubber, slip beind the Arriflex cameras and to experience the real sentiments of being back then in 1968 ...bouncing down the hill through Potreiro district of San Francisco.
Plus you can get information about our long journey with that mystery car hidden in the Kentucky barn, status of the real and surviving BULLITT Mustangs and maybe a Charger survivor, if you trust in the claiming owners.
Hang on and have a seat in the copilots bucket seat, buckle up, grip the mouse a little bit tighter and scroll through the streets of San Francisco on this site.
Watch out for the "ramps" to lift off. Steve for sure has enjoyed it like his stuntman and so do we.
Bullitt - The Mustang
One of the two 390 GT BULLITT Mustangs minutes before the jumping was filmed. Actually only one had a roll bar installed.
Typically you judge a movie by its actors. Although Steve McQueen attracted a big audience, there was one Dark Highland Green car in the trailers and preview action shots, that caused people to raise their eyebrows. After leaving the cinemas, most people agreed, that the main starring actor of this famous movie was - The 1968 Mustang Fastback GT.
Simply painted Highland green and mean in its perception. Without any major chrome items. Brute, yet subtle.
The modifications done by Max Balchowsky, a friend of Steve and originator of the famous "Ol Yeller" took about 5 weeks. You can read more details about these modifications in the report of BULLITT expert David Kunz later on. Dave bought his GT390 in 1992 and so did I with my presidential blue Fastback. We just happened to be meet each other in the early stages of the Internet, while I was browsing for other 1968 Fastbacks. Of course I knew McQueen and Bullitt before. At that time there was only one Bullitt website on the web, which disappeared soon after in the late 90ies. Our ponysite.de is still around.
2 Mustang 390 GT were built and sponsored by FORD, both of them with exactly the same equipment acc. to Kevin Martis (Marti Auto Works) VIN research in the Ford production data files. Both reports can be obtained for a fee from Kevin since about 15 years.
The two BULLITT Mustangs had consecutive VINs and the same equipment from Ford ex-factory.
According to an interview with Steve McQueen, the Jump car Mustang was almost disintegrating during the jumps and had to be worked on a lot. It was for almost 25 years believed to have been wrecked afterwards due to structural problems and liability concerns. We were in contact over the years with somebody who saw both cars at the studios after the movie, one being ready to go to the wrecker. This had been confirmed by others.
BULLITT insiders thought for decades that only one car survived. In 2017 however 8R02S125558 was found or what was left of it in Southern California and brought to Mexico. While planning an Eleanor mod, the owner (Ralph Garcia) sent in the VIN to Kevin Marti and learned that he found one of the two Bullitt Mustang.
The other mor intact surviving car with VIN 8R02S125559 has been unearthed by a Mustang maniac more than 2 decades ago after lots of stories embraced the myth of the original car.
There was little known in the Bullitt world about the second owner, but we had some hints on the name and his profession for quite a while. Somebody even said, he once sat behind him in an airplane and heard him talking about his Bullitt Mustang ownership, being a police detective. True or not, all those stories had some facts of truth. Brad Bowling finally found in April 2010 the second owner. In that article in Mustang Enthusiast he writes about the ownership and documents he had been shown at his home. As we know today it was Robbie Kiernan. I had got hints on the name over the years from some and about the families background. Still all of us (3 founders) kept the promise not to reveal the owners name.
As of 2014 the car was still in the hands of its third owner. Unfortunately he died soon after and inherited the car to his family.
It had been stored for a long time in a barn in Kentucky, where a "spy" spotted it and took photographs which were in the hands of David Kunz, but they were not published for obvious reasons and in respect for the owners and and the "spys" family. When there was too much noise the owner moved the car to his home garage around 1996 and let it sit next to his Porsche, covered up, as we knew soon after the move.
The main problem that seems to exist for many BULLITT enthusiasts is that the owner did not want to let it be shown to the public as well as his sone for a while, but arrangements were made in 2017 for a public viewing for the 50th Anniversary. It is said that the owner gave his family a promise to keep it, so we all havd to wait. Still we know it was a true father-son very private issue, so there is little we should comment or criticize. In fact it added a lot to the mystery. No movie car has ever grown to that fame, if it was displayed in a museum. And I personally had hopes, it remained hidden for a much longer time, though only a few might understand my viewpoint.
However it will change as of January 14th, 2018 we predicted as of November 2017 and it worked out that day indeed.
For me personally it would make sense to store it somewhere in a fake barn, where you can just glimpse through a small hole into the darkness. Pulling it into the light has certainly destroyed some sort of mystery, yet we have to be thankful to the owner family for keeping it hidden for so long. I hope it won't be restored or changed in any way other than refitting a few missing parts.
With the HVA having registered it now as vehicle no 21, it will certainly stay like it is, until the owner decides in a different way.
Since the two survivors are out, there is certainly no more risk of being offered a fraud.
Replicas and look-alikes should be considered as the owners late realization of their childhood dream car, this site had even been threatened with legal prosecution for pointing to two fakes in the late 9oies being advertised as the true BULLITT car, by 2018 this is no more necessary, yet the rumour of a 3rd car is as persistent than other mysterys, but there is no evidence to it.
The late Mr. Max Balchowski*, who modified the cars for the film, once said that there are a lot of phony Bullitt Mustangs out there running around." We have also word of several cars that have been auctioned or sold by WB employees as the real deal soon after the movie ended. That's where the myth about the many fallacies started.
*Max Balchowski btw. died in 1999 acc. to a UK magazine.
Our last update December 8th, 2017 was the one and only source on the web predicting the Detroit January 2018 event: Here is the text from then:
Stay tuned for January 14th, 2018 at the Detroit Auto Show press conference from Ford. Exciting news coming on.
In addition we had made a hairrising video with my mates David Redhead and Chris How, while I was in the UK. We traded in the 1968 Bullitt Mustang for a 2018 Bullitt Mustang, well ok, they did not have a green one, so we took a red 2017 as a test car drive.