IT’S 50 — WITH A BUL­LITT

The movie Mus­tang gets a re-run at the Detroit show

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS - JOSHUA DOWL­ING

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

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