Steve McQueen’s ‘The Hunter’ Pontiac Trans Am emerges from barn after 39 years

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The basic automobile world was shocked final 12 months when one of many two lacking Ford Mustangs used to make the 1968 Steve McQueen thriller “Bullitt” was unintentionally found rotting away in a junkyard in Mexico, the place it had been sitting since…effectively, nobody precisely is aware of.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime film automobile second. At the very least till this previous January, when the secretive proprietor of the opposite Mustang – the “hero” automobile McQueen drove in all of his close-up photographs – pulled it out of storage for the primary time in a long time to assist rejoice the 50th anniversary of the movie.

The long-lasting inexperienced coupe has been blowing away followers on a world tour of automobile reveals ever since. However now a automobile that was actually blown away within the final film McQueen ever made has been unearthed from an Illinois barn, and it’s received a terrific backstory of its personal.

It’s a Pontiac Trans Am that was featured within the 1980 movie “The Hunter,” during which McQueen portrayed real-life bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson, who was credited with monitoring down over 5,000 criminals throughout his profession. The movie debuted simply three months earlier than McQueen’s premature demise at age 50 whereas being handled for most cancers.

In its most memorable scene, Thorson rents the Trans Am from a small airport and drives it to a farm the place the fugitive Department brothers are hiding. As he searches the property, they begin throwing lit dynamite at him, steal the automobile and attempt to get away. Thorson then jumps in a mix harvester and chases them via a cornfield, earlier than they unintentionally drive over one of many dynamite sticks because it goes off, splitting the automobile in two. Minimize to Thorson returning to the airport with the stays of the Pontiac and the injured Department brothers on the again of a flatbed truck, a lot to the chagrin of the rental agent.

Though the scene was set it in Nebraska, it was filmed in rural Kankakee, Unwell., and was an enormous to-do among the many locals. Lots of them spent their days hanging across the units and making associates with the crew, together with a farmer auspiciously named Harold McQueen.

McQueen informed author Jim Suva that the director ended up destroying two automobiles after he wasn’t proud of the primary take. One was a loaner from Pontiac, the opposite a last-minute buy. He was employed to cart the wrecks round, and it’s his truck that seems within the movie arriving on the airport. The manufacturing firm let him hold the automobile from the primary take as cost, and he put it away in his barn intending to repair up at some point, however by no means did. The opposite junker ended up in a scrapyard, whereas 5 others that had been on mortgage from Pontiac had been returned intact and presumably disposed of as a result of they had been promotional autos that weren’t authorized to be bought.

Quickly after this, a neighbor named Stan Harvell, who knew about McQueen’s Trans Am, moved away to Arizona, the place he finally grew to become a basic automobile collector. Earlier this 12 months, he determined to provide McQueen a name to see if he’d nonetheless had the automobile and if he was all for promoting it. He did, and after some back-and-forth, McQueen agreed to let it go this previous October.

Harvell introduced a pal in on the deal named Calvin Riggs, who runs Carlisle Motors, a Houston-area basic automobile restoration store and seller. Riggs makes a speciality of Trans Ams and as soon as owned what’s believed to be one of many menacing black Dodge Charger stunt automobiles from “Bullitt,” which made him a super associate.

Riggs tells Fox Information Autos that he met up with Harvell at McQueen’s, the place the dusty Trans Am was hidden behind all types of junk behind the barn. It nonetheless had among the chains and hooks and different gear that had been put in by the stunt crew on it, however was lacking a bunch of ornamental elements that had been grabbed as souvenirs by the movie crew.

After digging it out, they moved it to a rented storage facility close by as they work out precisely what they’re going to do with it. Within the meantime, they’re seeking to gather info and images from anybody who was round when the movie was being made and plan to construct an internet site documenting the automobile’s historical past with photographs and video.

As for whether or not or not they’ll ever get it working once more, it might be too far gone for a correct restoration, however in addition they purchased the trailer, and memorializing the final time it was on display screen all the time could also be a good higher Hollywood ending.

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