Fast and Furious
Since the movie went into the cinemas the discussion about two or three Chargers being used in the famous Bullitt Movie has not been really solved.
We still tend to believe that there were only two of them based on some eye witnesses statements that we have, interviews with actors and behind the scenes participants that are available on film and others. In addition a guy saw only two at Warner Brothers, one being heavily burnt.
The mystery about the third one basically comes from two facts. In the scene on the Gouadeloupe Canyon Road you could say that there is another colour under the chipped off door handle. This lead a BULLITT Charger maniac think - based on observing the DVD - that this car was either repainted from the dealer that provided the car for BULLITT or it was a third one.
We'd rather support the first choice, that he had no two black cars available and painted one black in time before the cars were delivered.
The other reason for those mysteries are cars that were made up after the movie in order to make some cash by some transport department members. Some of these cars were even advertised or auctioned later and we don't know how many dealers jumped on the train. Max Balchowsky confirmed this fact as well in an interview.
Our Bullitt filming
eye witness Anthony Bologna remembers:
The car appears in the movie on three occasions including the chase scene.
- In front of the hotel on Embarcadero at night, little can be seen of the car.
- Following Frank while he is on the taxi ride.
- The chase scene.
There were accounts of two and possible three Chargers used in the movie. Two were 4 speed cars, the third could have been an automatic.
Differences noticed on the two or three cars.
- Steering wheel.
- Head rests
- Shoulder Belts
- Gear shifter
- Rear view Mirror
- Bumper guards
equipment on the Charger R/T for 68 were F70-14 tires, the Power Cushion
tires were not offered in 70 series so these may be the tires referred
to in the articles when they said "they had to trim down the tires
to practicly bicycle size" to handicap the Dodge. In the scene
where the Charger breaks away from Frank, the car has a thin stripe
radial, the scene along Marina car shows the same tires.
David Kunz sees it this way from his research:
I keep hearing about them purposely putting "skinny" tires on the Charger to make it slide around more. I don't think this was the case, because in reality, ALL tires were fairly skinny in 1968. The 60-series Polyglas and Wide Oval (Firestone) tires didn't really come out until the 1969 model year.
What we do know, from Max Balchowski's various interviews, is that Firestone provided some prototype radial tires for the film. (He identified them as "F-100" models, though I've never been able to find any information on them, even after a call to the Bridgestone-Firestone headquarters in the U.S. That would explain the wider whitewall on some shots, and the narrow white stripes in others.
So I wonder about the statement of wide-stripe tires being Goodyear Custom Power Cushion? There's no way one can read the lettering on the sidewalls, even on a HD television. When McQueen overshoots the corner in the Mustang during the chase, you can barely make out the F-i-r-e-s-t-o-n-e on the sidewall, and only because the tires momentarily stop spinning and they are directly lit by the sun. He is however right that Goodyear models were the standard tires on non-R/T Chargers.
But back to my original point. The tires don't appear to me to be especially narrow in section or tread width, considering the standards of the day. As a reference, check out the shot of Chalmers' Lincoln Continental pulling away from the curb at the airport near the end of the film. That's a 5000+lb (or about 2300kg) car, and the rear tires are very narrow. The ones on the Mustang are rather wide, probably to go with the American Racing wheels and the "performance car" theme. But even those aren't terribly wide, somewhat resembling the tires you'd find on a correct 1968 Shelby GT500, which were E70-15 tires on 15x6 or 15x7 wheels.
What I suspect the transportation guys did, when the promotional tires were offered, was ask for 14" whitewalls, and didn't really specify a size. But if you know anything about how horrific those old bias-ply tires are compared to radial tires, I would venture to guess that the Charger actually handled better with the radials, even if they were a bit skinnier.
You can see a lot of great pictures of tires at www.cokertire.com
Cars used had two different steering wheels. In all interior shots the car had the woodgrain sports wheel. The car doing the jumping down Taylor street had the standard steering wheel.
In the final scene where the car is launched, that car had the standard wheel with horn ring.
No head rests can be seen in any of the cars, yet headrest escutcheons can be seen in the early chase.
The shoulder belt brackets can be seen on some interior shots, but the belts were likely removed as they would have gotten in the way.
The top of a 4 speed shifter can be seen in the low angle view of Bill Hickman as he follows the Mustang in the slow part of the chase scene.
the scene right after they leave the car wash, using an interior camera,
the car appears to have a column shift automatic. No floor shifter can
be seen. Later when Phil is loading the shotgun, the boot of a 4 speed
shifter is visible in the last frame. In this scene the car used had
bucket and the buddy seat with arm rest.
The car(s) had a remote style rear view mirrors leading up to the Marina Blvd scene. During that scene the mirror was a non remote type. Before the Charger hit the truck, it had no mirror. The non remote mirror may have been a replacement during shooting.
All of the cars used had the front bumper guards removed, a bracket, possible for a camera mount is evident in several scenes.
The Charger was damaged when it hit the Camera, however when the car is seen bouncing down Taylor Street, it does not appear damaged. When it turns onto Mansell, it is not damaged. (As Anthony points out the car got a spray up in between the scenes)
Based on the above info, I would conclude the cars were equipped as follows:
Car #1 camera car and slow scene shoot car.
4 speed trans*
Head rests (removed)
Shoulder belts (removed)
Bucket seats with Buddy seat.
Custom Power Cushion Bias ply tires.
This might be a survivor car.*
Car #2 High speed chase car.
Regular steering wheel
Radial Ply tires
would be the car that got the heavy banging and was destroyed at the end
of the chase.
Where are the cars?
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