At the movies: Rewatching Bullitt


“My concept of a chase is that it’s more exciting to see a succession of awesome near-misses than a costly series of collisions. For me the visual attraction of a car traveling at high speed is in the movement of the shock absorbers, the flexing of the tires, and the way a skilled driver handles the wheel. As an Englishman, I was fascinated by San Francisco’s streets and alleys: they were the capillaries and arteries of the city and I wanted to show them that way.” — Peter Yates

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/02/01/rewatching-bullitt


I’m surprised you don’t mention it because I learned about it in the Hagerty magazine: there is a special “smoke duct” installed inside the trunk so that they could pipe in smoke when he kicks it into reverse to get back to the corner he overshot. Very cool.


I used to live in the San Francisco area and enjoyed driving the hills of The City.
When Bullitt first came out, we would go out and try to figure exactly which streets were shown in the movie albeit at a much lower speed.
I still watch the movie at least once each month.
Great Movie and Great Actor! RIP Steve McQueen!


Still the icon by which all car chases are judged…and 50 years later, unsurpassed, Ronin & French Connection being most comparable. If memory serves, Hickman also drove in The French Connection. I still get a rush when Hickman first stands on the Charger’s throttle, classic Mopar machine-gun-exhaust-pulse sound.
Seeing as how the smoke machine & duct was built into the “hero car”, and judging by camera placement, I don’t think it was an error that McQueen overshoots that corner; in fact, it was a clever means of getting him in close-up. Plus if you’ve ever driven a 390 Mustang, they’re a bit reluctant to change direction suddenly…


In 1976 then 22 years old I drove my 1970 Nova to California .It was a stock 350 , 2bl ,3 speed on the floor,3:08 ten bolt possi and AC . The Nova was Forest Green and I had put a set of 14/8 Western slots with F 60 / 14 on all four. The only other change I made was a set of chrome Hooker Headers Sidepipes’. I hung around LA for a couple of weeks popped my clutch at Sunset and Vine went around deadman’s curve and hit a lot of the other iconic spots in the area . Finally making it up the coast highway to San Francisco where cruised down Lombard St . then tried a hill jump on one of the streets.Did not end up to well . I bottom out the sidepipes. Smashed them pretty good . But made it back home alright only having to buy a new set .Would like to try the trip again but with blower and 4:10 it would cost me an arm and a leg in gas.


While the Bullitt chase scene is considered one of the best the overdubbed GT40 engine sounds for the Mustang and 6speed transmission double shifting are never mentioned. The Charger R/T sounds and shifts are real. Same reason Vanishing Point should be considered as maybe 2nd best as the Challenger R/T also had the 440 4bbl 4 speed with no sound effects. Just as a side note the same Bullitt Mustang sound track can be heard in the 1973 ‘The Seven Ups’ in the Pontiac Grand Ville. Oh…and the late great Bill Hickman drove the ‘black’ mafia get away car.


Sorry but the top dog car chase movie will always be the ORIGINAL Gone in 60 seconds. Totally real and authentic driving, off the chart driving skills and no special effects or BS


Still enjoy the movie and the chase. Two prominent German autos in the movie deserve a mention, Jacqueline Bisset’s yellow 911…and that green VW Beetle they pass four times in the chase scene!