As we sell our first 2016 Mustang, we take a look at the roles they have played in the movies over the last 50 years.
In some cases, it was product placement. In others, it was a matter of the producer, or even one of the starring actors, requesting a Mustang because of its cool factor. For the past 50 years, starting with a James Bond film in 1964, the Mustang has appeared in hundreds of movies as a starring role, and if you include the sometimes just fleeting glimpses in the background the movie list jumps into the thousands.
Filmmakers often use the Mustang as a way to help define a character because there is something about its styling and what the brand means that symbolizes quintessential American cool.
Ford acknowledged that Mustangs have appeared in over 500 movies, from Steve McQueen’s Bullitt in the ’60s to Will Smith’s I Am Legend in 2007. The majority of roles were background eye candy, but here we’re focusing on the major roles that have put the Mustang on the road to Hollywood stardom.
Ian Fleming’s third James Bond “007” movie marked the new Mustang’s first appearance in a major motion picture. Filming began in January 1964, several months before the Mustang’s introduction, with the chase scene involving Bond’s Aston Martin and a Mustang convertible filmed around May or June 1964 in the Swiss Alps.
In the chase, filmed in Furkas Pass, James Bond (Sean Connery) duels with the Mustang in his DB5 sports car. The scene is perhaps best known for one of 007’s high-tech tricks, wheel spinners that extended to shred the tires of another car. The Mustang, driven by Tilly Masterson (actress Tania Mallet), was the recipient of the tire and sheet metal shredding device.
No movie has done more for the Mustang’s image than Steve McQueen’s 1968 film Bullitt. Enthusiasts say that the movie’s plot is rather plodding until it reaches the chase scene, where McQueen’s Highland Green ’68 Mustang fastback battles the villians’ black Dodge Charger over the hills of San Francisco. Ford supplied a pair of ’68 Mustang GT fastbacks, sequentially numbered with 390s, to Warner Brothers for the movie. Some say that McQueen requested a Mustang for his character, Lt. Frank Bullitt, but more than likely, it was part of Ford’s product placement agreement with Warner Brothers.
Hollywood car builder Max Balchosky modified the Mustangs for the stunts, which included jumps and hard landings during the chase through San Francisco. He also gave the Mustangs their iconic look, possibly at McQueen’s request, by removing the running horse emblem and GT fog lights from the grille and adding American Racing five-spoke wheels.
In 2001, Ford recognized the ongoing popularity of McQueen’s Mustang by creating an ’01 Bullitt GT with vintage cues and more horsepower. The Bullitt Mustang returned for 2008-’09.
Diamonds Are Forever:
The Mustang made its second James Bond appearance in the 1971 film Diamonds Are Forever. This time, it was a brand-new ’71 Mach 1, which unfortunately participated in the film’s well known blooper. In a trick driving scene, the Mach 1 enters a narrow alley on its two passenger side tires. When it emerges at the other end, it’s on the driver side….
The hero car, needed for close-ups with Sean Connery, was powered by a tuned engine, which also provided the torque needed for tire-smoking acceleration and spins during the police chase scenes.
Gone in 60 Seconds:
The Mustang’s role as “Eleanor” in the original Gone in 60 Seconds came about because independent film maker Toby Halicki wanted to use the last of the Mustang muscle cars and not a Mustang II. Halicki built a ’73 himself, stripping the sheet metal and rebuilding with a rollcage and stiffer chassis components for the rigors of filming the wild chase scene, at 40 minutes, one of the longest in movie history.
The film became a cult favourite and a monetary success for Halicki thanks to the outrageous automotive stunts and nearly 100 crashes on film. Working on a budget, Halicki played the starring role and also drove other cars for the chase and crash scenes.
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000):
Of the hundreds of movie Mustangs over the past 50 years, none made more of a pop culture impact than “Eleanor” from the 2000 remake of Toby Halicki’s 1974 Gone in 60 Seconds.
Rather than a stock-appearing Mustang like the ’73 SportsRoof from the original film, remake producer Jerry Bruckheimer requested a modified version of the ’67 Shelby.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Duval, the remake of Gone of 60 Seconds opened on June 9, 2000, and topped all movies that weekend. It earned $237 million worldwide, a number that Halicki could not have imagined in 1974.
I Am Legend:
A ’07 Shelby GT 500 gets plenty of exhilarating screen time in this 2007 film starring Will Smith, who plays the sole survivor in a post-apocalypse New York City.
There is no doubt that the Shelby GT 500 is the co-star in the first part of this story. Ford Global Brand Entertainment placed the Mustang in the movie. The sights and especially the sound of the bright red supercharged GT 500 ripping through the deserted streets of New York City makes this one a must see at least for the Shelby part.
Need for Speed:
A custom ’13 Shelby Mustang plays a major role in Need For Speed. Starring Aaron Paul, the special effects-filled adaptation of Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed video game, culminating with a winner take all race between two rivals. Also notable: The New 2015 Mustang makes its first movie appearance at the end.
That concludes some of the more icon roles the Mustang has played on the big screen over the last 50 years. And with the New Mustang now on sale we expect to see it make a strong return soon.
For more information on the New Mustang contact the GWA team.