Still cool 50 years later: McQueen and Bullitt Mustang

5
A row of Bullitt Mustangs paid homage to Steve McQueen and the movie that made the car famous | Howard Koby photos

“Look, you work your side of the street and I’ll work mine.” 

Those words were spoken 50 years ago as Steve McQueen, the “King of Cool,” portrayed police lieutenant Frank Bullitt in the now-iconic film named for its leading character.

Car show poster

Yes, it’s been 50 years. But even half a century later, the movie remains revered by car enthusiasts for perhaps Hollywood’s greatest chase scene, shot real-time, at actual speeds, in a closed-off 60-block section of San Francisco. The chase made such an impression that the 1968 Ford Mustang GT fastback used in the filming became known simply as the Bullitt Mustang.

McQueen, the movie and the Bullitt Mustang were celebrated recently at the 11th annual Friends of Steve McQueen Car and Motorcycle Show which raises funds for Boys Republic of Chino Hills, California, a private, non-profit, non-sectarian community for at-risk boys and girls ages 13-17. Before his film career, McQueen was one of those youngsters.

Each year, the McQueen car show is dedicated to one of his films and automobile, motorcycle and off-road fans flock to the Boys Republic Campus to view 400 examples of fine automotive machinery from important race cars and “muscle madness” to exotic and classic vehicles and historic motorcycles that are parked on the lush grounds among hundreds of American flags.

Vintage show posters greeted visitors

This year, a run-up to the show included the third annual Steve McQueen Vintage Rally (sponsored by Circle Automotive Group and Russo & Steele auctions), with about 48 vintage vehicles motoring on the back roads from Santa Barbara to Paso Robles.

The events were founded by Chad McQueen, the lookalike son of Steve McQueen, and are co-chaired by Ron Harris. Dave Kunz from KABC Sports in Los Angeles leads discussions about the cars throughout the day.

RELATED:  Frantic but fantastic finish for Formula DRIFT

Though Bullitt Mustangs were featured, and there were more than 80 of them to see, the show includes all sorts of vehicles. Among them this year were the 1956 Jaguar XKSS formerly owned by McQueen and now part of the collection at the Petersen Automotive Museum, as well as a particularly impressive Bricklin SV, a limited-edition Guntherwerks 400R concept, a modified Porshce 911 that sells for more than $500,000, and the original 1964 Meyers Manx, being shown by its creator, 92-year-old Bruce Meyers.

Featured this year was the Bullitt Mustang, and more than 80 of them were on the grounds. And more are coming as Ford has announced a new edition of the car.

Very cool class: Vintage Airstream-style trailers

Among the award winners were Best Race Car to a red 1964 Cheetah displayed by Fred Yeakel; LeMans Award to Herb Wysard for his 1970 red Porsche 917; Special Award Porsche 356 to Bruce Brown for his yellow 1962 Porsche 356 Carrera Panamerica; Thomas Crown Affair Award to  Richard and Monica Abel for their his 1976 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow; Best in Class 1967/1968 Bullitt Replica Award to Jeremy and Marrissa Scott for their 1968 Ford Mustang; Best Recreational Vehicle/Trailer Award to a 1949 Airstream.

Chad McQueen also picked a 1914 Pope single 500cc belt-drive motorcycle (once owned by his father) for the Choice Motorcycle Award. He also presented the King of Cool Award for best-capturing the Steve McQueen passion to the Hoon Dogs Mustang Club of St. Louis.

All trophies presented were created and fabricated by Boys Republic students from car parts donated to the campus wood shop.     

Advertisement
Howard graduated with honors from the Art Center College of Design in California. He has been a photographer and automotive journalist for 35 years out of his Los Angeles studio. He has been published in Hot Rod, AutoWeek, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Jaguar Journal, Forza, Vintage Motorsport, Classic Motorsports, Robb Report, Motor Trend Classic, Hemmings Muscle Machines, and 50 Years of Road & Track (MBI Publishing). He has served on the Advisory Committee of the Transportation Design Department at Art Center College of Design. He is the author of the books Top Fuel Dragsters of the 1970s and Pro Stock Dragsters of the 1970s, both available on amazon.com.

5 COMMENTS

    • It was held on Saturday June 2nd at Boys Republic in Chino, California. Cars are spread across the football and baseball fields, with a large number of vendor booths spread around on the track surface surround the football field. As the article mentions, Steve McQueen spent a few of his teen years at Boys Republic, so it was his favorite charity. The boys are very involved in putting on the event, by far their largest fund-raiser, which makes it a very unique and special car show.

  1. I read that Steve McQueen BULLITT Mustang was sold for $6,000.00 and Steve wanted to buy it back from the buyer? Is this true.

    THE EMPEROR OF CAR CRUISES

    HUGH "BABE" O;Donnell

  2. Sorry to rain on his acolytes parade,but McQueen is without a doubt the most overrated actor/driver in history. What championships did he ever win? For that matter, what RACES did he ever win? As for his "cool", anybody really hip knows that term died years ago. He isn’t really "cool": that means square now unless you’re a crypto-nerd. And just sayin’, he was also a wifebeater. So "cool" of him. Yeah, no.

  3. Loved your article and pictures. If there is a way to get the full resolution of the OSSA that won the Enduro/Dual Sport class please let me know. That was a one owner bike raced in the East Coast and Mid West.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here