IT’S 50 — WITH A BULLITT
The movie Mustang gets a re-run at the Detroit show
Steve McQueen’s Bullitt in 1968 set the benchmark for movie car chases —and gave Ford’s Mustang a massive shot of street cred. Now the car he drove in the movie has surfaced, to be reunited with his grand-daughter, Molly McQueen, also an actor.
She unveiled the 2018 Bullitt Mustang at the Detroit motor show — after appearing in a short car chase film to tease the audience.
After being driven on stage she stunned the crowd with: “Hi, I’m Molly McQueen and Steve McQueen was my grandfather. Now maybe I’m a little bit biased … but you talk to people about great car chase movies and it still remains the gold standard.”
She shared some tasty film trivia too: “I remember coming across one of the Bullitt scripts. And what really caught my eye is … he’d cross out line after line of his own dialogue.
“I can tell you that we actors don’t typically … give ourselves less to say. But he was smart enough and confident enough to strip away everything that was unnecessary, and what was left was thrilling.”
In an era long before product placement — where companies pay big bucks to have their products appear in feature films — she said McQueen chose the Mustang even though “he could have picked any car in the world .”
He selected the Mustang for his character Lieutenant Frank Bullitt because “first, it was incredibly important to him to pick a car the average American could afford, especially on a detective’s salary. And second, it’s bad ass.”
Before the Detroit show, Ford invited Molly to its design studio on the premise of showing her the new Mustang she would unveil. Instead she was reunited with the 1968 original.
Owner Sean Kiernan — whose family has had the car since 1974 — said there were two movie cars. “One was recently found in Mexico, that was a stunt car. The other one was actually the one your grandfather drove. When my dad passed away in 2014 I worked on it. For two years it was my mum’s daily driver, she was a third grade school teacher.”
As the covers came off she said: “No way, that’s so cool!”
Kiernan said the car is in its original condition after filming, and even has the Warner Brothers gate pass on the windscreen, though it has deteriorated. As he opened the door for Molly to get in the driver’s seat, he said: “There’s been about eight people since your grandfather that’s sat in the car.”
He pointed out the red tape markers on the instruments so McQueen wouldn’t rev too high and detonate the V8. The 1968 Bullitt Mustang was then driven onto Ford’s main stage alongside the new model.
Molly is likely to get the keys to a 2018 Bullitt, painted green as with previous editions and with bigger brakes, a unique exhaust, a cue ball for a gear knob and Bullitt badging on the boot and steering wheel. As with the movie car, the Ford badges have been removed.
Despite the hype — and the fact that the Mustang is Ford’s second biggest selling model locally — the Bullitt is not destined for Australia. A Ford Australia spokesman said the car is for the US left-hand drive market only.
Heritage item: Molly McQueen and 2018 Bullitt Mustang; right, the inspiration