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Without this legendary movie car, this 60s thriller wouldn’t have become the classic it is today.

Without this legendary movie car, this 60s thriller wouldn’t have become the classic it is today.

Bullitt would be nothing without the green car driven by Steve McQueen! This 1968 Ford Mustang GT390 Fastback model is the second character in Peter Yates’ film. This is his story like no other!

Not one car, but two

McQueen at the wheel

During the production of the film, Warner Bros. borrowed two examples of this Mustang from the Ford brand. After the deal is struck, racer and race car builder Max Balchowski modifies the borrowed models to make them go faster, preparing for the legendary chase scene at the heart of the film that takes place on the streets of San Francisco. Balchowski beefs up the suspension and equips one of the Mustangs with a full roll bar.

Also a racing driver, McQueen insists on driving a modified Mustang, but after missing a turn by locking up the wheels, it is decided that great car stuntman Bud Eakins will take his place. For the record, the double shutoff sound we hear in the movie is not the sound of a GT390, but of a Ford GT40 running at full speed.

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After filming, one of the Mustangs was destroyed and recently found in Mexico. The other survived and was bought by Warner Bros. employee Douglas Ross. The latter sold it a few years later to a New Jersey police officer for $6,000 at the time (a little less than $40,000 today).

A very short time later, the lawyer sold it to two collectors for the same amount. They made it their main vehicle until they received a letter from a certain…Steve McQueen.

Steve McQueen wants to find a Mustang

Here’s what the actor wrote to Robert Kiernan, one of the owners of the car featured in the film in 1977:

Steve McQueen

Once again I would like to find my 1968 mustang, I would love to keep it in the family in original condition rather than restore it. It’s just important to me. I would be more than happy to try to find you another Mustang of the same model if there is not too much money involved. Otherwise, it is better to forget.

Kiernan did not follow and kept the car for over forty years. In 2001, Ford released the “Bullitt Limited Edition” Mustang. Robert’s son Sean Kiernan took over and still owns the car.

When his father died, he began to restore the car without touching the tape that McQueen had put on the tachometer at the time to compensate for the lack of a red zone. He also didn’t touch the green color or any of the changes that the film required.

Four years later, in 2018, 50 years after the release of the film in the United States, the Ford brand officially launched a car called: “Mustang Bullitt”.

Source: Allocine

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