Four Generations Of Bullitt Mustangs
Truth be told, director Peter Yates’ crime thriller Bullitt could easily have been relegated to bargain-bin obscurity not long after its 1968 release. While Steve McQueen was arguably at the height of his fame when Bullitt hit theaters, the stoic, measured pacing and meandering storyline of the film made it more of an acquired taste than your typical summer action blockbuster.
But what really sets Bullitt apart from typical entries in the genre is the jaw-dropping ten-minute car chase that transpires about mid-way through the movie, a visceral bout between McQueen in a Mustang and a pair of hitmen in a sinister black ’68 Dodge Charger R/T. The chase follows the two muscle cars through the narrow confines of San Francisco proper, complete with a roaring soundtrack of big-block V8s at full song as the Mopar and Mustang take turns going airborne down the hilly streets before the pair reach the sprawling highways just outside the city.
McQueen – a seasoned wheelman in his own right – was said to have done many of the stunts in the scene, and there are a number shots in the smoke-filled choas that corroborate that claim. More than half a century later it remains the car scene by which all others are measured by: a high-water mark typified by the distinct absence of fast cuts, CGI, ridiculously sped up film, and all the other parlor tricks that are so often employed by filmmakers (both then and now) in an attempt to dupe the viewer into a thrilling sense of speed. Adding to the allure was detective Frank Bullitt’s street-hardened Mustang GT. With a brutal bark and a purposeful look, it was a blemished – yet undeniably badass – urban warrior.
Over the years the legend of the Bullitt chase grew, yet the automotive malaise of the ’70s and ’80s kept Ford from capitalizing on the cult following the film had amassed. But that changed in 2001, leading to three distinct generations of factory-built homages to the original machine over the next 18 years … read more