How to blow up a Charger

© Wolfgang Kohrn - 2000, last updated on August 7th, 2011

Don't get me wrong. I like 68 black Chargers and it was not my idea.
The Charger had no less meaning for the movie than the Mustang.

Blowing a Charger is not that easy
Fix it to a Mustang and let it go shortly before a gas station? Not so.

First it takes a desperately escaping Charger and 2 coward guys -
Ok. Bill Hickmann was not coward - so lets say - 2 tough criminals.
Framegrabber artist GŁnter Plewnia
Then it takes a decided cool detective like Frank Bullitt alias Steve McQueen. No more.

On to the hardware side - this is the fixture that hold the Charger R/T to the Mustang 390GT.
A dummy was placed in the Charger, not a stuntman for obvious reasons. The fixture was released via a remote knob from the Mustang's stunt driver.
The correct angle, the proper speed and a straight road would have done the job properly, but all taking into account was still not enough. The Charger hit several items before it reached the gas station.

The released Charger bumped over some roadside stone borders, lifted slightly up, crashed back to the surface and got somewhat out of line.

The company GOULD VALVES claims following: (qote)'NINE High Pressure Gould Valves were used to blow up the dreaded Black Dodge Charger that Steve McQueen chased in the 1968 Warner Brothers movie "Bullitt". There were nine different takes of the grand finale to the famous chase scene. A pressure tank followed by our high pressure valve which flowed into a weakened tank was placed in the Dodge. Our valve was remotely controlled by a radio device. When the valve opened, the air pressure from the pressure tank went through the valve and caused the weak tank to explode which blew up the car. San Francisco had a city ordinance against fiery explosions within the city limits, so no pyrotechnics could be used. The flames were later added in the edit room'

Apparently the valves did not create much eyecatching action in the movie. They were probably used to avoid a risk for the towing Mustang. If the Charger would have been fuel and dynamite or TNT-loaded and remote-controlled at the wrong time, there would have been the danger, that both cars would have landed in the explosives of the gas station. Look closely, if you see any blow effect from those pressure valves. It is hardly to see but there is a dust or spray coming out of the gas cap opening shortly before the car crashes to the surface. Maybe this was the weakest element and took some of the planned tank blow-up effect.

The Charger was planned to hit the station, but in fact it missed it. If you watch the video or DVD several times, you'll see something 'flying' through the background. As the film crew could not redo the scene due to budget and production timing and probably due to a badly damaged Charger (in fact they used only 2 for the movie), it was decided to edit the film material. It is very tough to get it on pictures. But my buddy GŁnter succeeded with drag strip like reaction times for mouse clicking.
The bypassing Charger was indeed 'touched up' or scratched from the film material. If you forward the tape with a good VCR you can see that there are some scratches, where the Charger should be in the film material. They simply 'edited it out', but not very good as to todays possibilities.

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