copyright David Kunz, Anthony Bologna, Wolfgang Kohrn 1992-2011

Which tire/rim size combo was on the 1968 BULLITT Mustang? Answer from David:
GR70 on 15x7 American Torque Thrust
This tire size was not standard from the factory, but was mounted by Max Balchowski upon request by Steve Mc Queen.

Regarding backspacing, there is only one choice in each wheel size for the Ford bolt pattern on the American Racing website, and the 15x7 wheel tucks the center cap too far into the front of the wheel to look correct. One need to use a 15x6 wheel if one wants to be as close to the movie car as possible. When seen from the offset rear (such as during the door banging sequence on Guadalupe Canyon), the chrome center caps are clearly visible. You can get that look with a 15x6 wheel, but not with the 15x7.

There is now a more authentic reproduction available of the movie car wheels: “Torq Thrust Originals,” though they only come in 15x7 and larger sizes. You can get “Torq Thrust Ds” in 15x6, but the spokes are a little different. (Those are what I have on my car.)

What is the exact colour on the TT rims? Answer from David:
I don't believe the wheel spokes on the movie car were painted. Those were supposedly true magnesium Torq Thrusts (as opposed to the aluminum versions they sell today), and the bare spokes of those wheels oxidized into a very dark grey unless polished regularly. So painting them black is not really correct, even though they may appear that way on film sometimes. A very dark charcoal gray works well, and there's a wheel-specific charcoal gray spray paint available from Eastwood.
I spotted an antenna on the rear fender in some shots. Was this a factory unit?

Answer from David:
There is indeed an antenna on the right rear fender, just like the Shelby Mustangs. (Those had it there because the fiberglass hoods wouldn’t shield the electrical interference from the ignition wires.)
What I’m guessing is that they wanted to get the factory antenna off the front fender as it would be in the way of certain close-up shots and perhaps cause glare. So, they probably got another antenna for the rear fender. It would most likely have to be an aftermarket accessory, as the coaxial lead from the factory unit wouldn’t be long enough to make it to the radio.

Now that we have the ability to see details via BluRay discs, small things like this are going to be noticed. I doubt it’s a “factory” antenna with a Ford part number, as any auto parts store would have carried them, especially models with longer cables to reach the radio from the rear. Stock antennas, with the exception of rare power-operated ones seen on Cadillacs, Lincolns and Imperials, didn’t go down into the fender. So, they were often the target of young vandals, who would use them as make-shift foils for make-believe sword fights, or actual violence. I know that some models of aftermarket antennas did indeed push down into the fender to avoid being targets of vandalism. One particular kind that I had on a car even had a special forked “key” that supposedly only allowed the owner to pull the antenna up into position.

So, I’m guessing that Balchowsky or somebody at Warner Brothers added one of these to the Mustang’s rear fender. Never mind a Ford part # -- back then pretty much any antenna looked the same, with a round chrome base. It was probably retracted into the fender most of the time, but in a few shots we can see it extended. (Maybe McQueen, Ekins or Loftin got bored and wanted to listen to a ball game while the crew was busy setting up the camera and lights and pulled out the mast so that the AM reception would work…then nobody bothered to push it back down before the cameras rolled? Just a guess.)

What about the brakes? Answer from David:
Discs front / drums rear.
Didn't Steve McQueen receive a Mustang after the movie as a present? Answer from David:
As for the rumor that Steve McQueen got a replica, I may have some info here as well. In Jim Smart's book, 'In Search of Mustangs', there was a mention of a red '68 428 Cobra Jet with a New York DSO. This fastback that was supposedly given to him by Warner Brothers as a thank you for the success of Bullitt. This caught my attention when I first got the book some years ago, and in fact was the reason for my first contact with Jim Smart and eventually Tony.
First off, 'Bullitt' wasn't released until October 1968 and was not widely distributed until early '69. By this time, there were not likely to be any more '68s sitting around on dealers' lots. So if they wanted to buy him a used '68, why a red car with a New York DSO? Secondly, it has been widely documented that McQueen infuriated the Warner Brothers studio heads during the making of Bullitt. His Solar productions never wanted to have anything to do with them again, and the feeling was mutual. I suggested to Jim that the owner of the car listed in the book was telling a tale. He tried to get the truth, but ran into a dead end in his search for the owner.


Who was the second owner? We got some hint on the second owner some years ago and his first name. Yet we have not been able to locate him. Until then this remains one  of the mystery stories that surrounds the BULLITT myth.


Steve McQueen said in the Motor Trend interview after the movie, that one of the cars was a 289, while the other was a 390. Is that true? No, research from the FORD files by Kevin Marti has shown that 2 identical Mustangs with 390 engines had been ordered - 8R02S125559  and 8R02S1255558. Both reports can be ordered from www.martiauto.com , if you don't trust us.
David: While going through some old papers, I came across a photocopy from part of a Steve McQueen biography that a friend had made for me some years ago. The book is called simply McQueen by William Nolan, who was supposedly a friend of him. The cover states that it was written in the final years of McQueens life and much of it is in his own words.
Here is an excerpt on the cars in Bullitt. Quote McQueen: 'I huddled with chassis designer Max Balchowski and we worked out some modifications for the two cars involved in the action - a new 390 GT Mustang, which we figured a cop like Bullitt could afford to own and a 440 Magnum Dodge Charger for the bad guys to drive.'
So I guess ol Steve was set straight on the cars sometime after his famous Motor Trend interview.


Where can I see the PUMA/Mustang commercial on the web? If you have time to download about 7MB and a quick modem, go to COOL AD at www.rushes.co.uk/flash/rcp/FordPuma_coolads.html
There is a story as well about the making of this commercial
Where the cars in the infamous chase scene private citizen's caught up in the chase? No, they were not.
Every day letters were placed in mail boxes describing the streets to be closed for filming. It did not mention anything about a car chase. If your car was not moved by a time dead line, the production company was allowed to tow your vehicle out. One scene, for example, takes place on the Marina Boulevard, McQueen and the Charger weave in and out of traffic. The cars that they just missed are parked. They had no drivers in them for safety reasons, should the Mustang or Charger lose control


What happened to the Chargers? We have some rumours about them, but they haven't surfaced yet. The crash Charger was definitely wrecked.
Arnold Welch claimed in 2008 that he has found the surviving. Yet the evidence is very thin and even Mopar experts are in doubt. 

He planned to show it restored - with the marks he thinks are proof enough - in 2009. 
See our Charger section for more info on this car.


Can you please tell me what the paint code of the 1968 BULLITT Mustang is? It is code R on the door tag for Highland Green.
Ditzler 43644, DuPont 4869 or R/M 1946
With any of these codes you can ask your car paint shop to mix the correct stuff.
Did Solar Production shut down the San Francisco Airport terminal? No, they did not. The terminal used in the scene were Steve McQueen catches up to Johnny Ross at the glass door was shot over a many nights after midnight. This gave the production company easy access to the location. Also, shooting so late turned the terminal into a ghost town so extras and people who worked at the airport were hired.
Was that a real Pam Am jet that Steve McQueen dove under? Answer from Anthony: Yes it was!
McQueen wanted the realism to the point of endangering himself when he refused the use of a stunt double. However not all of the stunt on the runway was McQueen. He wanted the continuity of keeping the shot of the hero to follow through out the dangerous stunts. In the scene where he tries to cut in front of the taxing jet, it was all under a very controlled environment. The scene plays out McQueen cutting across a taxing jet then he realizes that he cannot make it across so he dives under the belly of the moving plane. The dangerous part of the gag was handled by stunt man Loren Janes. The ground pilot from his point of vision could not see Janes on the ground so every inch of Janes's movement was monitored from the communications of the ground crew. He wore double ear protectors so not to blow out his ear drums. Also, thrusts from the underside of the jet would cause your body to be thrown around like a rag doll.... The only McQueen shot shows him laying on the runway with his hands over his ears, then it's Janes getting up and runs away from the jet...


In the Motor Trend article it is said that Bill Hickman pulled James Dean from the Porsche 550 after the crash. Is that true? Answer from Mike Magda:
The Bullitt Bill Hickman was a very close friend of James Dean. He's mentioned many times in all the James Dean biographies. He was mentioned quite often as one who either pulled Dean out or helped pull Dean out. He was following Dean on that trip as there were four or five guys going up north to the races. I don't have all my notes easily reachable right now, but there are enough books in the library to make my case.
Where got David his original licence plates JJZ 109 from? Answer from David:
I got them several years ago from a place that advertised in Hemmings Motor News. I know they had some trouble with the DMV, and I have not seen their ad lately. They were called Eurosign Metalwerke and were in Florida. 
Update: You can however buy good replicas from Carl Genatassio from imboc.com.


Can you tell me more about the original steering wheel? Answer from David:
McQueens was basically a Shelby GT500 (Secura) steering wheel, custom covered with leather by his friend Tony Nancy. You can buy as of 2007 very excellent replicas via David Matthews from the SAAC or cobranda.com. 
Do you have any details for the engine modifications? Answer from David: 
I do have a pic of the engine from the barn series. The air cleaner is missing, but everything else appears to be stock in appearance. The Car Life article mentions that the heads were milled and that the headers were installed, but when Randy Leffingwell interviewed Max Balchowski in 1995 the story was a bit different. There was no reference made to the cylinder heads being worked on or headers, just 'old hot rodding tricks' like jetting the carb and recurving the distributor advance. Of course, the rumours of what they did to the engines vary by a wide margin. One even suggests that the Mustang got a Holman-Moody NASCAR 427. Not only would that be terribly expensive (Leffingwell quoted Balchowski's modifications as costing about $200 per car), but hardly necessary for filming purposes. Remember, the car was not trying to win a race or engage in an actual pursuit. It just had to do a collective series of short bursts of speed for the cameras. A 390 with some 'old hot rodding tricks' probably would have done just fine.


Which grille do I have to put on my BULLITT replica? Answer from David: 
The '67 and '68 grilles are essentially the same. Either will bolt right into either year. The difference is in the number of attachment points for the ornamentation (horse, corral, etc.). Since a Bullitt Mustang obviously won't be using those, the less expensive (for whatever reason) reproduction '67 grille was my choice. The only reason I even changed the grille is because my stock '68 GT grille has sections cut out for the fog lights (they don't mount to the trim as in '65-'67). Jim Smart swears he sees a wire mesh grille in the movie (I've never be able to tell), and that may have been Max Balchowski's cheaper way of doing it -- he just made his own out of some wire mesh material he had sitting around his shop.

While looking at the recent Blueray Disc, indeed one can see a sort of wire mesh material. There is also ongoing discussion about the typically silver satin grille ornaments below the grille itself. David does not think it was painted black, as some do, actually there was no reason to do it. Until then we think, it is more a matter of viewing angle and shadows in the available shots and movie scenes. It cannot be verified on the surviving car, as they are missing today.
Are you sure about your info in the news about the dubbing of the sound? I am in doubt. Answer from David: 
1. All the scenes shot with a 'moving' camera (in other words, when the camera is either attached to a camera car or placed in the action cars) are shot silently - known in the movie industry as MOS. Supposedly came from Otto Preminger's German-accented English when he ordered 'MIT-out sound!' while directing many years ago, and the initials stuck. That may just be a legend from the film industry, but that's what it's called. Remember that in a round-about way, I have worked in the entertainment industry my entire adult life. I know what I'm talking about in this regard. It's not like with a video camera, where the sound is recorded at the same time as the pictures. An entire separate recording device must be placed somewhere. With the limited space available, there was absolutely no reason to capture sound while it was happening. Just about everything is dubbed in later in post production; engine noise, screeching tires, etc. As for synching it up with the puffs of smoke from the exhaust pipes, that's what sound editors are paid to do. Even in 1968, that was a 'piece of cake' as we say. 
Another example of this in the film is when Bullitt is surveying the hotel room the morning after the shooting. From the freeway, we hear the same vehicles going by over and over again. Does anyone really think that the same cars happened to go by over and over in the same sequence? Hardly. It was dubbed in later, with little thought to people ever being able to someday watch a scene over and over again on a VCR or DVD player. Second - The sound used in Bullitt was used countless times over the years, especially in low-budget films like the guy mentions. The most blatant example was in the film 'The Seven Ups' with Roy Scheider. He drove a Pontiac Ventura (another version of the Chevy Nova) and they used the same sounds as the Mustang in Bullitt. Third - Having an actual 390 '68 fastback, with resonators only, and a 4-speed, I can tell you for certain that my car sounds NOTHING like the high-speed sounds in Bullitt.


It looks like the rear panel is painted black. Is that true? Answer from David: 
Movie crews have a solution to the problem of reflection. It's an aerosol spray known as 'dulling spray' which puts a clear matte finish on anything that's causing too much reflection. They used it on part of the grill molding on my car for the Puma shoot, as part of it was catching the sunlight and glaring into the camera. 

During the Anniversary event in Los Angeles in 2010 David enjoyed seeing the movie again on the big screen: His ultimate judgement on the black vs. body color issue is this:
"Upon seeing Bullitt at the Jules Verne festival at the Cinerama Dome last November, I can say with certainty that the taillight panel on the Mustang was definitely Highland Green and not painted black. It was right up there on the large movie screen, brightly projected nice and large. "

Note from Editor:
With the new Blueray DVD and related players some viewers say that the rear is definitely a low-gloss black. We have yet no evidence for it, but it had become common belief that it was a dull black.

Same goes for the front inner grill pieces, some think they are sprayed black, some think they were the satin matte silver like the original pieces. There seems to be no logical reason that the team took the effort to paint them matte black. We checked out several photos taken at a different angle from an original trim and it appears quite dark and matte black at a variety of angles. So we leave this up for speculation. 

In the end it seems that what one wants to see is what you really see.