It may well be the most renowned chase scene in Hollywood history, and if not, it ranks right at the top of the list. Of course, we're talking about the 1968 cop epic Bullitt in which Steve McQueen wheels his '68 Mustang through the streets of San Francisco, first as the pursued, then as the pursuer of the bad guys in a '68 Charger R/T. McQueen and his fastback were certainly badass at the time, but compared with Tom Thu's '67 seen here, the movie car was a bit of a wimp. If that sounds like a condemnation of the McQueen machine we actually know and love, don't be alarmed. Instead, consider it a demonstration of just how far street cars have come in the last 40 years.
In reality, Tom had no desire to build a Bullitt clone when he acquired this '67 at the age of 11, and in fact, he didn't. Bullitt was a decidedly low-profile ride, while Tom's is much more the extrovert. Nevertheless, it's difficult not to compare and contrast the famed fastback when faced with the same silhouette draped in a similar dark green. Back in 1997, Tom sold a dirt bike to pay for the rusting hulk and soon began a thorough transformation with the help and guidance of his talented dad, Arild. It's a build that has been in transition ever since, the current iteration but a moment in time between last year and bigger plans for the future. No matter-we're on board as is, for the '67 is a sweet combination of classic Mustang and potent speed.
The classic part comes through most of the visuals, where the original paint color is teamed with GT trimmings for a timeless muscular appearance. Speed, or the management thereof, comes from nearly everything else, including a 408-inch 351W-based small-block by Keith Craft Racing. "I had a 393 in the car before, which ran high 12s, but I haven't had a chance to run this one yet," Tom says. With 536 hp running through a TKO-600, we expect the next trip to the track isn't likely to disappoint.
While it's far-fetched to figure this car will ever be hammered through the streets and hills of San Fran, it isn't a stretch to think it could handle the job. The '67 is as much about braking and cornering as anything else. The aluminum-head small-block keeps frontal weight within reason, while rack-and-pinion steering, Shelby-style suspension, and huge-by-large six-piston Baer brakes make for an all-around performer. Last but not least, American Racing Torq-Thrust IIs wrapped in BFGoodrich G-Force rubber stick it to the ground.
It's been a few months since we photographed Tom's '67, and when we called him to fill in a few blanks, he explained that the car is completely apart for a full Pro Touring metamorphosis. That's a story for another day, but as it stood during our photo session, this is one fastback Mustang that would have given Lt. Bullitt a big leg up in his storied battle with the Charger. Then again, who'd want that wheel-to-wheel action to have ended any quicker?