The Missing Bullitt Dodge Charger

I completed my drive to Arizona and stopped at the Pima Air and Space museum.  I spent hours there wandering around the amazing display of aircraft.

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It is quite the historical record of the flying machines of the military.

Then I headed south to meet up with some friends of long ago.  It was an afternoon and evening of catching up on the decades between high school and today.  I slept well.

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I awoke to a morning moon.  It was good to get some coffee in my system and then head off for a drive back to Tucson, where I was meeting up with Arnold Welch.

Arnold and I had corresponded and had phone conversations over the past few years.  Now it was time to meet in person.

I first had become aware of the discovery of the Dodge Charger that was used in the movie Bullitt back in February of 2010.  Arnold had spotted a gold-ish Charger in someone’s yard years prior but the owner wasn’t selling.  Then he got the call and went to take a look at it.

It was a numbers matching car that someone had done a poor job of a rest-o-mod.  The engine had been modified with headers and a cam, but all the original exhaust and intake was in the trunk.  Arnold bought the car and the fun began.

Arnold has been restoring cars for decades and is especially fond of Mopar cars.  He knew his Dodge Chargers from the seventies.  As he worked on this one he started making discoveries that pointed to it being something much more significant than just a numbers-matching car.

There were the holes in odd places.  In the area under the trunk lid were holes that didn’t make sense.  They would only let in water in the wrong place.  Under the hood were holes that looked like they might have been used for reinforcement, but they weren’t.  When he pulled up the carpet there were deliberate holes in the floor on the passenger side where cameras had been mounted.

Arnold did his homework and found photographs of the movie car in different configurations of add-on brackets to facilitate camera mounts and generator mounts.  All the strange holes were matching up to how the movie car had been modified at different times during filming.

Arnold contacted Warner Brother’s studio and provided them with all that he had on his find.  They told him that while they had lost most of their documentation on the cars in Bullitt in a fire, everything he had was consistent with the Charger used in the movie.

Now, three years later I met up with Arnold and he showed me his completed car.  It was amazing.

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This was it.  Bill Hickman drove this car.

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Arnold showed me all around the car and where all the mounting holes had been done and how they matched up precisely with the photographic record.

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As the story goes, this was one of two Chargers bought off the dealer’s lot.  It was originally yellow and both cars were painted black for the movie.  This one was the primo car with the full R/T package.  This one survived, and the other was destroyed as the wreck at the end of the famous car chase.

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Arnold let me sit in the car.  A great moment for me.

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Next to me were a couple of great props.  The Winchester pump shotgun and the trench coat like the one worn by Paul Genge.

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Would you like to own this car?  Arnold is at the point of wanting to sell this piece of history.  He would rather own a car that he can feel like driving.  To put this car in harms way on the street would not be right.

If you are interested. Seriously interested. You can contact Southwest Collector Cars in Tucson, AZ.

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7 Responses to The Missing Bullitt Dodge Charger

  1. Dan Paquette says:

    Awesome car/awesome find. The muscle car museum in Sevierville, TN has/had some of the chargers from Vanishing Point. Been to the Pima museum and the airbase twice. There are also some interesting side roads (dirt) along the edge of the base with some commercial operations that have even more interesting airframes either for scrap or under restoration.

    • jimsgarage says:

      Hi Dan – yes, I’ve been to that museum in TN. It is a real favorite of mine. Exceptional cars there. The VP cars they have there are from a TV show. Same vintage as the movie. The Challengers in the movie were all wrecked according to the director of the original VP.
      I could have gotten on a bus tour of the “bone yard” at Pima, but was running out of time.

  2. Judy Knell says:

    Own this car and not drive it? No, I’m not that person. Sorry, cause I like it.

  3. Steve Brant says:

    It’s not listed in the online inventory for Southwest Collector Cars. Did they sell it already?

  4. jimsgarage says:

    Since Arnold works there he gets to keep the Charger on site.

    • Steve Brant says:

      Jim – Just to be clear… it is there but not in the online inventory listing? Thanks for the help. Members of the Bullitt Mustang club I belong to are interested in all things “Bullitt” related. :)

      • jimsgarage says:

        Yes – that’s it exactly. If someone is serious about buying the car they can contact him there. If you want to see the car it is currently being stored there. You can see it through the front window.

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