An Amazing Discovery 49 Years Later

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Bullitt

In mid-March of this year, the collector car world was shocked at the news that one of the two 1968 Mustang GT Highland Green Fastbacks used in the filming of the 1968 Steve McQueen movie Bullitt, was discovered in a Baja California junkyard.

The location of the second Mustang (there were two Mustangs and two 1968 Dodge Chargers used in the film) — assuming it exists — is unknown. What is known is that the Mustang that was discovered was used in the dangerous jumps down Taylor Street in San Francisco during the film’s cars chase sequence. These sequences were driven by the late motorcycle stunt driver and McQueen double Bud Ekins, owing to insurance company concerns for McQueen’s safety. McQueen completed roughly one-third of the driving in the film, including the dangerous near-collision with Ekins on a motorcycle along the Guadalupe Canyon Parkway where McQueen spins out in a combination of dirt and gravel.

The late Bill Hickman handled the Dodge Charger driving entirely on his own and assisted the late stunt driving coordinator Carey Loftin. Loftin drove sequences of the red 1967 Alpha Romeo for actor Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate. The Chargers were destroyed (one deliberately at the end of the iconic car chase) after filming concluded to prevent liability issues due to their poor condition. The recently discovered Mustang was confirmed to have the reinforced suspensions, shock towers and chassis components with a 1967 Shelby Mustang rear axle.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Ralph Garcia, Jr., of Paramount, California discovered the car and verified with Ford Motor Company and car expert Kevin Marti the authenticity of the Vehicle’s ID Number.

Bullitt will be 50 years old in 2018, and many of those who saw the film when it was released are exiting the hobby of car-collecting. Younger collectors have often heard of the movie and its chase scene, but have yet to see it in its entirety. The chase is considered among the most dangerous stunts in movie history.

Steve McQueen died of complications from Mesothelioma in 1980. He had tried unsuccessfully to locate and purchase the Mustang in 1974. Bill Hickman died of cancer in 1988. Hickman is widely recognized for his stunt car driving dating back to 1948. In 1966, he drove the VW Beetle in Disney’s The Love Bug. In 1971, he handled the driving of Gene Hackman’s Pontiac LeMans in the movie The French Connection, and in 1977 he drove a Pontiac Grand Ville in The Seven Ups featuring the late actor Roy Schieder, who died in 2008. 

 

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