This Top Five countdown could have gone one of two ways, with “Bullitt” taking the number one, or number two spot; and we are guessing you already knew this 1968 Mustang GT Fastback would be at the top of our list. We are even more positive you can now deduce our final pick, which will publish next. Although this car may be the first pick for many, it fills our second spot, although truthfully it is a tie between one and two.
No. 2 – “Bullitt”
We will not argue that, hands-down, “Bullitt” showcases the most famous car chase scene that has ever been choreographed for a motion picture. We also are not deducting star attraction from this badass Mustang, as physically it took the mean streets of the City by the Bay like Mohammed Ali – a champ that could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Not only did this movie provide another career vehicle for McQueen (he really doesn’t need a first name introduction at this point), but it helped solidify the pony car as a bonafide musclecar around the world.
Wanting increased control on the production side of his movies, McQueen had signed a six-picture deal with Warner Brothers. “Bullitt,” served as the first collaboration, with those elaborate chase scenes exceeding the movie’s budget and eating into the other five. The studio subsequently ended their agreement when the movie wrapped, perhaps foreseeing potential earnings as a budget deficit rather than money in the bank given McQueen’s penchant for action. What fools!
Meet Detective Lieutenant Frank Bullitt
As police Detective Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, McQueen insisted that he handle all of his own stunt driving. With most included with the final cut, this provided an authentic experience as movie-goers watch the exhilarating chase from behind the driver’s seat. What those two identical Dodge Charger 440 Magnums did not want to see was Frank Bullitt and that green monster looming ever closer in the rear view.
Two Mustang GT 2+2 Fastbacks sporting 390 cubic-inch engines with reported quarter-mile E.T’s of 13.8 seconds. Both sported Highland Green exterior paint and also were modified, although car No. 1 received the bulk of the treatment. Underneath, it was reinforced with welding, bracing, and engine upgrades to take the abuse of ramping up and sticking jumps.
Stock driving lights, mascot pony emblems from the center front grilles, and GT badging and lettering were removed from both; providing a sportier look over the stock variation. American Racing supplied the custom rims seen in the flick.
Bullitt is undeterred and determined as hell to nab the perps, proposed members of the Chicago Mob that have landed in his arena. His only distraction out of the roaring Mustang? The luscious Jacqueline Bissett, who tries to penetrate the steel, hard exterior of the cop who is out for his own blood; breaking police protocol and hanging on to the thrill of violence as a way of life. Does this heartfelt-plea stop him from going after justice? Hell no!
Roll The Credits
It is widely known that Car No. 1 did not survive the impact of numerous violent jump landings, and most folks who worked on the movie have remarked it was sent to a scrapyard and crushed. Car No. 2 is another story, however.
Reserved for high-speed chase scenes and beauty shots, although those are few and far between, it was presumably sold to an employee of Warner Brothers. Since then, it has been sold twice; but as of 2010, it is believed the third owner still holds the title. Reports state McQueen tried to purchase the car in 1977 to complete his collection, but was declined.
Released to theaters in October 1968, the star power of “Bullitt” (the vehicle) has left a lasting impression on the marketplace in pop culture (a recent episode of “Archer” features a Bullitt-style vehicle), and with enthusiasts the world-over. The phenomenal legacy includes special edition vehicles and trims by Ford Motor Company, toys and diecast collectibles, action figures, and video games, and set an entire genre of Bullitt resto-modding in motion.
How the movie ends, we will not say. Albeit we highly encourage our readers to find a copy online and watch. Above is a clip of the original movie trailer. Enjoy the symphony of a tuned V8 Mustang and squealing tires on the blacktop as it charges through the steep hills and valleys of San Francisco’s neighborhoods – with no music to blur the pure soundtrack of a high-speed pursuit!