Image: The Everett Collection
When the The Getaway was released in 1972, its star, Steve McQueen, was the highest paid actor in the world. By the end of the decade, the man's man had retreated from the public eye. McQueen was roaming America in a vintage camper truck, riding his Indian motorcycles on backroads. Yes, he was that cool.
At the end of 1977, McQueen looked to add another vehicle to his collection, the Mustang featured in his classic action flick Bullitt. The Ford muscle car would even match his '52 Chevy truck — both were deep green. The actor typed up a letter to a man in New Jersey, making an offer on paper embossed with his production company's logo, Solar Productions, Inc. "Dear Mr. Kiernan," he wrote. "Again, I would like to appeal to you to get back my '68 Mustang. I would like very much to keep it in the family in its original condition as it was used in the film." He then suggested that he might buy Mr. Kiernan a replacement Mustang to his wishes, "if there is not too much monies involved in it."
Kiernan said no. How did a man in New Jersey come to possess a piece of Hollywood history? The website Hagerty told the fascinating tale early this week. After the film was released, the Mustang ended up in the possession of a Warner Bros. employee who used it to commute to work. In 1971, a police detective bought it from the studio. The cop shipped the car to New Jersey, where he flipped it to Bob Kiernan, who purchased the vehicle from an ad in the October '74 issue of Road & Track. He paid $6,000.
From there, the Bullitt Mustang migrated with the Kiernan family, to Cincinnatti, to Kentucky, to its final resting place, a farm in Tennessee outside Nashville. The car sat forgotten for years.
But two Highland Green 390 GT Ford Mustangs were used in the making of Bullitt. Chad McQueen, Steve’s son and the co-founder of McQueen Racing, set up a website FindingBullitt.com in early 2017 hoping to find the vehicles. Chad explained that his father saw the Mustang as a character, not just a ride. He explained:
"Steve McQueen understood this when he cast the 1968 Mustang for Bullitt. Yes, cast. Before Bullitt, cars in films were usually just props. For Bullitt, Steve had other ideas. There was no chase scene in the original story, and Steve’s vision for Bullitt was to make a modern western. Instead of cowboys on white horses, Steve put a police detective in a Mustang and the villains in a black Charger. He chose a Mustang because it was the kind of car his character could afford on a police detective’s salary."
No surprise, coming from the former star of the hit TV Western Wanted: Dead or Alive.
Anyway, long story short, the two Mustangs were located and positively identified via VINs in 2017. One was rotting, stripped, in a Mexican junkyard. Read the full, fascinating tale at Hagerty.com. [Via: Jalopnik]