Ford’s Bullitt trailer is a delightful homage to the best car chase ever filmed

The 50th-anniversary Bullitt Mustang was revealed at the Detroit Auto Show, and it certainly didn’t disappoint muscle car fans and classic movie lovers. It’s a reverent throwback to the iconic car chase scene in the 1968 movie Bullitt, from the dark Highland Green color to the cue-ball shift knob.

In conjunction with the announcement, Ford released a trailer showcasing the new 475-horsepower beast. With Molly McQueen, Steve McQueen’s granddaughter, behind the wheel of the new Mustang, it features a showdown in a city garage — against a couple of suspicious-looking goons, naturally — over the last available parking spot.

If you’ve seen the classic car chase from the movie, you’ll immediately recognize the inspiration for the trailer. The license plate is JJZ 109, for starters. Then there’s the snappy yet slightly ominous jazz soundtrack. There’s the interior camera angle from the passenger footwell, and the rear-view mirror shot as the pursuing car pops into view.

A green VW Bug shows up in the garage , which inexplicably made several appearances at different points during the movie chase. There’s also a close-up shot of the tires spinning in reverse and Molly even catches some air during the duel.

The new Bullitt Mustang comes with a six-speed transmission as its only option — no automatic on offer here (and you won’t hear us complaining). The 30-year-old actress normally drives an Audi, and she had to learn how to operate a manual transmission for the debut trailer, she told USA Today. “I honestly didn’t know how to drive a stick shift and I stalled it quite a few times,” she said. “By the end of the second day of shooting, they asked me to slow down. It becomes second nature.”

“And you’re thinking about the gears and the clutch and driving becomes a fun activity as opposed to just a way to get from one place to another,” she added.

At the auto show, Molly was also reunited with one of the two original Mustangs from the film. The other was discovered several years ago at a junkyard in Mexico.

The movie chase spans more than 10 minutes with no dialogue whatsoever. It took four weeks to film on location in San Francisco. Urban legend has it that McQueen did all the driving in the chase, but that’s not the case. In the back-seat interior shots from the Mustang, sometimes the rear-view mirror shows McQueen’s face and other times it’s tilted down when a stuntman was behind the wheel.

McQueen had all the badging removed from the two Mustangs used in the movie. The new Bullitt is equally sparse, with only the circular faux gas cap Bullitt logo visible on the exterior.

The styling speaks for itself — it doesn’t need a big Ford logo plastered across the grille, said Mustang historian Kevin Marti. “This car is so iconic that you don’t even need to put a name on the thing.”

In related news, Ford Motor Company brought out the first new Bullitt (VIN 001), to auction for charity. All proceeds of the sale went to Boys Republic, “a California-based school and treatment community for troubled youngsters, which McQueen himself once attended.” The car sold for $300,000, and 100 percent of that went to the school; Barrett-Jackson waived the fees, as it does for special “cars for a cause.”

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