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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 01-23-03, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Steve McQueen would approve of replica 'Bullitt' Mustang

By Ann Job/DetroitAutoNews

You can't accuse Dave Kunz of going Hollywood because of his dark green 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback -- a replica of the car Steve McQueen drove to fame in the 1968 film "Bullitt" in what is still regarded as one of the best car chase scenes in movie history.

Kunz's car makes appearances in television shows and commercials, music videos and movies. Ford Motor Co. even borrowed it for a San Francisco press event when the limited-edition 2002 Ford Mustang Bullitt debuted.

Why Kunz's copy and not the real Mustang Bullitt?

Somewhat mysteriously, no one, including McQueen himself before his death in 1980, has had access to the rumored sole surviving car from the movie. Automotive lore -- not necessarily accepted by all auto buffs -- has it that the Mustang sits in a barn somewhere in Kentucky's Ohio River Valley, where the owner refuses to show it, sell it or even let others see it.

Some collector car purists might complain that Kunz is crassly exploiting this void in classic car history. But Kunz is no unfeeling opportunist. He's a savvy car aficionado who recognizes the power of pop culture. If more collectors found such creative ways to share their classics, we would not risk losing pieces of our automotive past to those who insist on keeping their treasures to themselves.

Kunz readily admits his car is not McQueen's original. But it is a bona fide 1968 Mustang GT Fastback, with a 390-cubic-inch V-8, and the same Highland Green paint job as McQueen's. Kunz bought it for $9,400 in 1992 because he had fond memories of a Mustang his parents once owned.

It was only later that he decided to make it look like McQueen's. Even then, he did it for himself, not posterity.

"Who knew it would become a media darling?" he asked. "When you're 8 years old and you see Steve McQueen look so cool, you just want some of that coolness."

But who else has singer Sheryl Crow's autograph on the door jamb of their Mustang? Crow drove Kunz's car in her "Steve McQueen" music video last year.
Yes, Kunz is making money from his car.

Still, I get the feeling this 40-year-old Los Angeles television news reporter is more car collector than he knows, relishing the experiences his Mustang has brought him perhaps more than its moneymaking potential.

Kunz once drove behind Chad McQueen, the late actor's son, on the streets of San Francisco. McQueen stopped and jumped out of his own car to tell Kunz, "Your car looks so cool in my rear-view mirror." Kunz recalls sitting in his living room watching TV "and there's Tiffani Thiessen driving (my) car" on a recent episode of Fox TV's "Fastlane."

Not a bad life for a copycat classic.

Too bad the surviving Mustang from "Bullitt" -- if it really exists -- has no life at all except in myth.

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My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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