“There sure are a lot of green Mustangs here,” was the comment overheard in the crowd at The Friends of Steve McQueen Car and Motorcycle Show held at Boys Republic in Chino Hills, California, on June 2, 2018. And for sure there were, as the event was themed around the 50th anniversary of the movie Bullitt, so you know what that meant — a sea of Highland Green Mustangs and one black Dodge Charger.
Everyone in the Bullitt Mustang universe was represented, with Ford making it three generations of Bullitts on hand, thanks to two 2019 examples of the breed. At the other end of the pipeline a handful of Highland Green ’68 fastbacks were on-site, the cars most identifiable with the movie even if the Bullitt name was never applied as a specific model until 2001.
Of those 2001, 2008 and 2009 Mustangs labeled by Ford as Bullitts, they were parked in long rows at show center on the Boys Republic outdoor running track. We were going to count them for you but never could get all the way through without being interrupted or distracted, so let’s just say there were many; Certainly far more than we’ve ever seen in one spot before.
Like ocean waves, this legion of Bullitts was simultaneously seemingly identical, yet no two were exactly the same. Of course they were nearly all green, but some had bolt-ons, a few had blowers and many were simply stock with the odd daily driver license plate frame or sticker.
Bullitt folks, at least those appearing at the Boys Republic show, are a clubby lot, flocking together online and simply enjoying their cars as the superb daily drivers they are. Never the most powerful of specialty Mustangs, the Bullitts have always been about real-world performance, that oh-so-difficult to engineer combination of quick, stable handling; a bit more power; and everyday manners. They match their namesake’s quietly cool persona and it was great to see so many out in one spot.
And speaking of driving, some Bullitts were wearing license plates from states far from California thanks to the Hoondog Legend Lives Route 66 Tour that had the faithful searching for Radiator Springs all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica along the Mother Road. Try as we might we never did get the inside scoop on what happened on the tour — mainly everyone was out ogling cars as we made our rounds — but the quick word was everyone had a good time, and no tow trucks, police cars or ambulances were involved. Furthermore, the eager drivers were headed north to San Francisco after the Steve McQueen show, so the fun was continuing.
Once past Mustangs the McQueen car show has proven a first-rate event. Unlike most we report on, the McQueen gig is a many-faceted event, so Mustangs play just one part. A fundraiser for the Boys Republic where Steve McQueen lived as a youth, the show is always themed around something Steve McQueen was interested or involved in.
Steve McQueen’s manly cool may evoke envy from the cubicle crowd, but it evolved in part from his troubled early years. Luckily the courts sent Steve to Boys Republic, a private facility for just such youths, and he turned himself around with the great guidance the facility’s reputation implies.
Never forgetting his debt to Boys Republic, Steve maintained a relationship with the facility his entire life. The Friends of Steve McQueen Car and Motorcycle Show, put on entirely by Boys Republic, is simply a continuation of the fund-raising Steve took care of privately while he was alive. That everyone participating in the show knows they are contributing to the Boys Republic makes it that much better.
Steve was also into airplanes, so a few small vintage planes were flown into the display field — The Boys Republic is over 100 years old and has been smart enough to hang onto its extensive real estate holdings in mainly agricultural form, so hacking out a dirt strip is no big deal — and there were even vintage travel trailers. Add in some hit-and-miss engines chugging away and there was plenty of cool stuff to check out.
Also, unlike the typical Mustang car show, the Boys Republic affair costs $10 to attend, but it has no problem attracting a traffic-snarling throng of attendees. The bother is worth it for anyone with wide-ranging internal combustion interests, so put it on your calendar in early June next year if you’re in the area. And you shouldn’t have to, but on your way in we’d keep an eye out for black Chargers, just in case…