For decades, the 1968 Mustang GT 390 that was used in the film’s iconic car chase scene was assumed to have been scrapped shortly after production due to the enormous wear and tear inflicted on the Fastbook during the shoot.
Instead, a partner of body shop owner Ralph Garcia Jr. found the dilapidated car at a scrapyard in Baja California – painted white over its famous Highland Green Metallic paint and in rough shape. Garcia Jr., who specializes in building replicas of “Eleanor” from other cult car movie classic, Gone in 60 Seconds, initially bought the car with an “Eleanor” project in mind and was shipped to a shop Garcia Jr. owns in Mexicali. When Garcia Jr.’s partner Googled the VIN number, they knew they had made an important discovery.
Soon after the find, renowned Ford expert Kevin Marti paid a visit to the car and was able to authenticate it as the missing Mustang.
Two Mustang GT 390s were used in the making of Bullitt. One (VIN 8R02S125559) was pampered and used in low-action scenes – mostly when McQueen’s titular character, Frank Bullitt, was driving around his neighborhood in picturesque San Francisco. That Mustang has enjoyed three owners since the shoot, and has remained in the same family anonymously for some time now (despite McQueen’s attempt to purchase the car).
This other Mustang (VIN 8R02S125558) was seen flying down San Francisco’s Taylor Street, chasing a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T in what is perhaps the greatest car chase scene in movie history. Despite modified suspension, shocks, and pickup points, the vehicle took an absolute pummeling during the filming and was long-assumed to have been sold for scrap. Instead, it appears the car was actually driven for some time after.
Under the white paint were several other layers that implied its post-Bullitt use. A good chunk of the original modifications have been thankfully preserved, such as the strut tower reinforcements and the holes drilled into the trunk to allow for a generator to power movie lights.
The vehicle has unfortunately already been repainted back to its original color, despite Marti’s advice to leave the car as-is for collector appeal. However, Sanchez Jr. plans to fully restore the vehicle just in time for Bullitt’s 50th Anniversary next year, and then possibly an auction block where it could fetch up to around one million dollars.
Now, to find that James Dean Porsche 550 Spyder..