The 1968 Bullitt Mustang is an icon in the world of classic American cars and like Steve McQueen an icon of the movie industry. Its understated menace in its de-badged dark highland green metallic livery had the audience on the edge of their seats in the film Bullitt. The 10 minute chase through the streets of San Francisco and out into the open country is one of the best filmed car chase sequence ever made. The spectacle was aided and abetted by the villains’ black 1968 Dodge Charger R/T’s.
The Mustang had been around since 1964 and immediately made its film debut in James Bond Goldfinger. It soon had the Shelby treatment to produce the GT350 model and a fastback design. The models, 2 off, used for the Bullitt was the big block 1968 GT390 Fastback with a few modifications. Apart from the dark green color the most noticeable was the lack of any badges including the front mustang and corral. Wheels were 15 inch x 6 inch American Racing Torq-Thrust D mags with dark spokes. Interior was also black with a custom steering wheel.
Many replica cars have been attempted, some with more success than others. Ford have built 2 tribute versions, one in 2001 and the other more fitting version in 2008. Some say we may get another post 2018 with the 6th gen. Mustang.
Steve McQueen plays San Francisco Police investigator Lieutenant Frank Bullitt. The cool McQueen needed a understated motor and that's just what he got with the '68 Mustang Fastback to tear up the streets in the most realistic 7 minute car chase ever seen. No CGI here just great driving and excellent camera work from McQueen and his professional back-up team. The film itself is a quiet, moody affair with Bullitt not sure just who the bad guys are. Until the chase scene that is.
The chase itself is at the heart of the film. The throbbing big block as Mustang stalks the villains Charger until the light turn green and the chase is on. Seven minutes of heart pounding action captured both in car and external cameras in an action scene that sets the benchmark for all that follow. Up and down the step hills of San Francisco passing some famous landmarks in the city then out onto Guadalupe Canyon Parkway. That is where after some great stunts the villains meet their end in a fireball behind the gas station.
The villains car was the infamously black 1968 Dodge Charger R/T's. They, yes 2 off again, had 375-hp 44-ci Magnum V8's under the hood with 4-speed manual transmission. They were made to appear a little less racy with white walls and chrome hubcaps. The hubcaps of course came off in the chase to great effect, all 5 of them. The Chargers were more than a match for the Mustang in absolute performance and with suspension tweeks they were up to the job of taking the jumps and charging hard in front of Bullitt.
To be precise there were two 1968 Mustang GT 390's used in the filming of Bullitt. Although rumours to the contrary persist, they were supplied by Ford Motor Company as back-to-back serial numbers that can be identified as 325 horse powered, big block four speed manual transmission mustangs. Suspension was beefed up and Koni adjustable shocks added. To get the awesome soundtrack the transverse muffler was replaced with straight pipes.
The Bullitt Mustang color was unmistakably Highland Green Metallic. De-badged and de-chromed to give a menacing appearance only slightly more legitimate than the villains' black 1968 Dodge Charger R/T's.
Interior is of course black with delux wood-grained instrument panel but the steering wheel was replaced with a 1967 Shelby Mustang wood rimmed wheel covered in leather. The steering wheel is difficult to find and expensive if you do.
Standard Mustang wheels removed and replaced by 15 x 6 inch. chrome and black American Racing Torq-Thrust D mags. The black is more of an oxidised grey on the original mag alloy rims.
If trying to replicate then don't go for wider low profile tires as that just looks all wrong. Original tires were Firestone G70/15 which in today's terms would be 225/70-15. Replica models may reduce that a bit to get into the original fenders.
The unmistakable California JJZ109 licence plate a copy of the original 1968 Bullitt Mustang Licence plate. Ideal if you want to show off your replica and give it the authentic look. Click on the plate to get yours...
For a more obvious sign get a California BULLITT licence plate for a cool looking plate to hang on the garage wall.
The 1968 Mustang GT had the usual array of chrome mustang, corral and trim. In the de-badged Bullitt version that all went in favor of the anonymous stealth of a plain grill. This is one of the most abvious features that has to be maintained for the authentic anonymous look.
The first factory Mustang to be styled after the original 68 Bullitt Mustang. A little more power, better handling but mostly some very nice Bullitt styling feature both on the outside and inside. Now being touted as a classic in the making it will be sought after in the years to come.
On the 40th anniversary a second factory Bullitt Mustang was released that had more in common with the original. The 2008 was a genuine attempt to re-create the tough menacing muscle of the original McQueen machine. Built on the 5th generation mustang chassis it has the size and presence to match the 1968 Bullitt Mustang.
Of the two cars that were used for filming the main stunt car was damaged beyond repair and was scrapped. The other car was sold initially to a Warner Brothers employee. It was advertised in the Los Angeles Times for $6000 and sold where it made its way to the east coast. Again in 1974 it went on the market and stayed in New Jersey until the 90's with the owner refusing to sell even to Steve McQueen himself. In later years it is understood to lay in a hay barn in Tennessee? Now in need of restoration the owner keeps it under wraps and avoids publicity or pressures to sell. Who knows maybe with the 50th anniversary in 2018 it would be good time to see it again.