The Missing Bullitt Charger

I received an email from Arnold Welch informing me that he has found the Dodge Charger used in the film Bullitt and will have it restored back to the condition it was in during filming by April or May of this year.

Arnold apparently found this 1968 Dodge Charger for sale and was in the process of restoring it when he realized that there were several places under the interior carpet and in the trunk where holes have been drilled that match up with the camera mounts used in the filming of Bullitt.  Further research on his part showed that there were two Chargers purchased by Bill Hickman from Glendale Dodge in Southern California.  One was a blue non R/T with an automatic transmission that was used in the final scene where the Charger was blown up as it crashed into the gas station.  The other was a yellow R/T with a 440 Magnum engine and a 4-speed transmission.  Both cars were painted black for the movie.

For some reason the surviving R/T Charger ended up back with the dealer and was re-painted yellow and sold.

Arnold says the car hasn’t been driven since about 1978 and that its VIN date indicates it was built January 15, 1968.  Location filming was begun in April of 1968.  The car wasn’t sold to the general public until October 1968.  It has about 62 thousand miles of use on it.

Arnold has sanded off the paint in layers and it is clear the car was originally yellow, then painted black, then back to yellow, and finally given a gold paint job.

This will be interesting to see how it looks when Arnold has it all completed and ready to show to the public,  I hope it is the real deal.  I don’t think Arnold is trying to fake anything either.

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42 Responses to The Missing Bullitt Charger

  1. Jim says:

    This is beyond awesome! What an amazing find. I’m glad it’s being restored to its full Bullitt splendor.

    • JoeSnow says:

      If it’s being made to look like it did in Bullitt, then it’s not being restored. To restore it, it would have to be painted the yellow that it was when it rolled out of the factory. That’s the paint code on the identi-plate and the broadcast sheet and that’s the color it has to be to be considered restored. It would lose points in a show for not being the factory color.

      • Rey says:

        You are so wrong. The true value of this car is not as a factory charger. Those are common. This would have an incredible value as the BULLITT car. Just like the value of the Bullitt Mustang would be because it was used in Bullitt. You obviously have no concept of the value of provenance.

        EXAMPLE: Recently a Ferrari that would normally sell for about 5 million sold for 10 million because it had been owned by Steve McQueen.

  2. markitude says:

    Jim,

    You do find some of the neatest things. I would dearly love to have a ’68 or ’69 charger…nothing numbers matching mind you…something that could be driven now and again.

    Mark

    • jimsgarage says:

      Mark –

      I think because of the Bullitt movie Chrysler sold tens of thousands of the charger. Which, I have been told, is why it was used as the General Lee on TV.

      I would love to get a white Challenger, like the one in Vanishing Point, and set it up to look vintage but handle modern.

      Jim

  3. jimsgarage says:

    Dan –

    Thanks for the link. Jalopnik is a favorite blog site but I must admit I missed that entry.

    Jim

  4. Greg Autry says:

    Hi Jim,
    can you contact me via email? We would like to talk with Arnold. We are the Mustang Bullitt owners club.

  5. Bob says:

    Now if someone could just park the Mustang next to it for a photo shoot, WOW!!!!!

  6. bullitt2597 says:

    Jim contact me again. I want to get in touch with Arnold. Computer crashed lost his email info.

  7. Randy Krohn says:

    I think the charger was more awesome than the mustang.there’s nothing more cooler than seeing a black charger ripping ass and just plain being fast as hell.

  8. That is a nice find!!!! Such a great movie, and finding the actual Charger from it, is the icing on the cake. Seems like the GT390 got all the glory, now owning a Bullitt myself I am a little bias, but I do love the old Chargers!!

  9. andrew sota says:

    Thats fantastic that it survived. I had heard there were 2 mustangs, 2 dodge & they were all wrecked for parts because of chassis damage & that they did not want to repair & re sell them because of warranty issues. They also had a modified corvette for the camera car.

    • jimsgarage says:

      Yes, it appears there were two Mustangs and two Chargers used for the movie. One Mustang was so wrecked that it had to be crushed. The other one survives, but the current owner will not show it or sell it, or even reveal just where it is stored. A fortunate few have actually seen it and have been able to confirm that it was one of the Bullitt movie Mustangs. Of the Chargers, again one was destroyed in the film. You can see it at the end of the chase scene. It missed the “gas station”, but was totaled anyway. The other Charger was sold or returned to the dealership it was sourced from and returned to its factory color. Arnold was lucky to have come across it and also informed enough to recognise its pedegree. We are lucky that Arnold had the resources to restore the car to it movie livery. Maybe this will inspire the owner of the Bullitt Mustang.

      • dave says:

        i am in great doubt as i have a survior that i had purchased from arizonia it is blue it has damage on front lower frame back of driverside wheel purchased with no fender also no drivers door ……………more to come happy new year

      • Martin Merstrand says:

        Hi, Its often thought that there were only 2 GT390´s but in fact there were 3, read this interesting interview with Loren Janes The Stuntman who drove the Mustang
        http://jalopnik.com/5744523/the-real-story-of-the-chase-scene-in-bullitt

        Ps. I own a 1968 GT390 Fastback ( matt black though ) and a 1970 Charger R/T Clone

        Martin – Denmark

  10. What is the vin number of the car?..In the chase sceen you can see the blue paint when the charger hits the guard rail or was it another car

  11. whats the vin number of car???

  12. brian francis says:

    when i was a kid, my very oldest brother assumed each car featured was running it’s best & badest…my brother got it right with the dodge (a daytona-tested 440), but he was mistaken with the ford mustang…he just assumed it was a 428cj badass comparable to the charger, it was really (just) a 390GT…and had been decidedly tromped in rehersals.

  13. Need more to show me that it’s the real bullitt charger bill Hickman was the driver and there’s on doc on the car any one can drill holes from the movie the first car was a r/t it had only 600 miles on it when crashed is there any one from the movie who will say it was used is there any one at time of the film making to say its real the plate on the car comes back to a Chevy truck it’s not adding up being I work for a dodge dealer ship thay would have fix the holes in the floor befor rescaling it

  14. Converse says:

    Here are a few articles on the Chargers and Mustangs from Bullitt. The first is about Loren James a great stuntman. He in fact is the only one that I’ve ever heard state that there were 3 chargers and three Mustangs. There has been so much stated(some true and untrue) about the topic that I don’t like to repeat that because who knows.

    http://www.jazzwax.com/2011/01/interview-loren-janes.html

    http://www.mustangspecs.com/bullitt.shtml

    http://themustangsource.com/timeline/67-68/68/bullitt/

  15. Gertrude says:

    Thanks for finally writing about > The Missing Bullitt Charger | JIM’S GARAGE < Loved it!

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  19. kat proxy says:

    When someone writes an post he/she maintains the thought of a user in his/her brain that how
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  20. chaz says:

    i think the guy from desert classic mustangs in phoenix has one of the mustangs. His collection of fastbacks is large.

  21. Bob Rose says:

    Like all of you, I, too, am a die-hard “Bullitt” fan. I’m always amused at these stories of people stumbling across purportedly “original” items that were believed long-gone, but suddenly surfacing after having achieved some measure of cult-like popularity. Funny how the prior owners never revealed their discovery, even though the motion pictures in which they were featured were popular then, too. I, for one, would be extremely skeptical of anyone who claims to possess the “original” Mustang or Charger used in the film. These vehicles were mercilessly abused, and after filming would have been worth little more than salvage value. Moreover, anyone who knows anything about the movie knows that the chassis and suspensions of both vehicles were substantially altered to strengthen them so they would hold together until filming was concluded (especially the Mustang. The Charger was far more durable and easily outperformed the Mustang). I am therefore somewhat surprised to hear that one of the Chargers was allegedly returned to the dealer. If it had in fact been purchased by the film producers, then it would have been theirs to dispose of however they saw fit — why return it to the dealer if the dealer no longer owned it? No reputable dealer would have wanted it back, for they would never be able to re-sell it. It would have had to be extensively re-built, and aside from being structurally questionable the dealership would undoubtledly have lost money on it. No, I believe that it is far more likely that these cars have long since vanished into the mists of time and the dust of salvage yards. But it is fun to speculate that perhaps it could surface unexpectedly somewhere and not be immediately recognized for what it is. Much like those stories we hear about where someone buys a painting at a garage sale for ten bucks and the thing turns out to be a long-lost Van Gogh worth millions. Those incidents occur just often enough to power the fantasy that out there . . . somewhere . . . waiting to be discovered under a pile of debris . . . is an automotive icon of a generation.

    • jimsgarage says:

      Bob – you make some good points. I talked to Arnold about his car quite a bit over the last few years. While I have no doubt that Arnold would love to sell it for a ton of money, I also don’t think that he is making things up. He has restored MOPAR cars for a good long while. He wasn’t looking at this car as a movie car when he saw it or even when he started to restore it. It was in a guy’s yard for several years and to Arnold it was just a Dodge Charger that was in good structural condition and while the engine had been changed all the original stuff (including the engine) was there in boxes. It was only after starting the restoration that he came across several things that he decided to get checked out. Back in 1968 it was a different time and place in how people dealt with cars, even movie cars. The Mustang was sold to someone at the studio lot and the Charger was re-painted to its original yellow and returned to the dealer as once the movie was over there was no reason to keep it.
      It was only later as the movie became special that people’s attitudes toward the cars changed. McQueen tried to buy the Mustang, but even he had a limited budget.
      It has been difficult for Arnold to fully document the car because the studio didn’t take care of the records, although after reviewing everything that Arnold had for evidence, they felt that it was likely the survivor. Sure, someone could figure out where to drill holes, but there were things that kept matching up, such as damage to the inside of the rear pillar wing. When the trunk lid had been off so that a camera could be mounted to film the chase, the mount came loose and the camera dented the inside of the wing. The damage was still there. The authenticity of this car will continue to be debated since there are not concrete records. There are many things that are exactly as they should be if it is the real thing, but there is no contiguous chain of evidence to make it irrefutable. Having met Arnold, I trust him and have been impressed with his level of documentation.

    • Greg says:

      The surviving Mustang is well documented and has a quite good chain of custody which makes it almost certain of being the car. The second owner of the car was located a couple of years ago, a police Lt in New Jersey, as was the mysterious 3rd owner that refuses to let anyone see the car. My understanding is that as of the last contact Brad Bowling had with him it was in a very sad state. It really is a shame. I have also talked with Arnold at length and unless he is a true master of forgery it is likely this car ould be the Charger that was used for regular filming. More details on the surviving Mustang here: http://www.bradbowling.com/sample-page/bullitt-riddled/

      • Rey says:

        The current owner of the Mustang from Bullitt is a certified mental case.I met him. He prefers to let it rot.

      • Greg says:

        He should either sell it or ket it be exhibited in a museum for a time. At one time he was going to give it to his son to drive.

      • jimsgarage says:

        Funny thing about car museums. It seems that they prefer that you donate the car and take a tax write off. Probably not attractive for him.

      • Greg says:

        Many will allow long term loan It can just as easily sit in a museum than in his garage….Everything I have read he does not appreciate the significance of the vehicle. My personal opinion is he will keep it and when he dies it is an instant inheritance for the surviving family. Sold at Barrett Jackson the car will easily pull well over a million and possibly over 5 million…
        .

  22. Darrel says:

    Bill Hickman was my uncle, he stayed with us while filming bullitt. I can I.D. This Charger

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  24. Pingback: The Other Bullitt? Still Alive And For Sale For A Cool Million! - Street Legal TV

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