In December 1968, the Steve McQueen movie
Bullitt hit movie screens around the world. All these years later, the film still
makes a number of "favorite movie" lists because of the iconic
chase scene through the streets of San Francisco.
McQueen plays Lt. Frank Bullitt. When a witness he is supposed to guard
is assassinated, Bullitt goes on the hunt. He eventually spots the bad
guys when they are in a 1968 Charger. The intrepid lieutenant gives chase
in a 1968 Mustang. McQueen did much of his own driving in the chase scene,
which wound its way around town without any background music or dialogue.
The producers had two Chargers and two Mustangs; the Mustangs had to be
specially modified so they could keep up with the Chargers.
Along with James Bond's Aston-Martin in 1964's
Goldfinger, the Mustang in
Bullitt may have done more to stoke America's love affair with the car more
than any other movie. But, within the next few decades, the driven car
may become a relic.
Driverless cars have already logged over 700,000 miles in California, and
they may soon
revolutionize the way we think about our four-wheeled friends:
The next wave of driverless cars may be able to park themselves and have
an auto-pilot mode. It may still be forty or fifty years before completely
automatic cars are common in Fresno. But when that day comes, there will
still be those of us who prefer to drive manual transmission cars without
a computer overriding our instructions. Driving a car is not just about
transportation; it's about freedom. While driverless cars may feel
a need for a small niche of people in our society, many of us will always
prefer to experience the open road with our hands on the wheel and our
right foot on the gas, just like Steve McQueen did in Bullitt.