Steve McQueen’s “The Hunter” Trans Am Recently Rediscovered

It seems that the Bullitt Mustang has somewhat taken over headlines over the course of the past year. One of the two estranged vehicles used in the original movie was discovered in a junkyard in Mexico about a year and a half ago. Its rediscovery was almost as publicized as its original big-screen debut. Since it’s been found, it has been touring the United States, attending shows, and now, with the creation of a one-of-a-kind timepiece that’s going up for auction, it will be even further immortalized.

Photo borrowed from classiccars.com.

The actor who played the original Bullitt movie’s main character, Steve McQueen, also starred in the film “The Hunter,” in which he drove a Pontiac Trans Am. He played a bounty hunter, Ralph “Papa” Thorson, who had reportedly tracked down over 5,000 criminals during his real life career. McQueen, and the cars used, made it through some intense scenes, and the movie was a hit, especially for car lovers. Unfortunately, just three months after its debut, McQueen passed away.

Per Fox News, while filming, the movie’s director ended up destroying two Trans Ams in search of the perfect take. One of those ended up in a scrapyard – the other was given to a farmer that happened to be helping out on set. Here’s its story.

The car’s most famous scene was set at a small airport in Nebraska, but was filmed in a rural town called Kankakee, Illinois. The filming drew in a bunch of the locals – including this farmer, who was ironically named Harold McQueen. He was gifted the first wrecked Trans Am as a form of payment. He put it in his garage hoping to fix it, but never did.

Harold on set of “The Hunter,” with his Trans Am from the movie. Photo: Harold McQueen

Harold’s close neighbor, Stan Harvell, moved out of Illinois to Arizona, where he became a classic collector. In early 2018, he had a recollection of Harold’s broken garage queen – and had his heart set on adding it to his collection. A few months ago, after much negotiating, he finally took possession.

The car still had chains, hooks, and other equipment on it that were supposedly installed by the movie's stunt team, but was missing a bunch of aesthetic parts that were taken off as souvenirs on set.

Calvin Riggs, friend of Stan and owner of Carlisle Motors, a classic car dealership and restoration company, has tons of experience with Trans Ams, and actually once owned one of the Dodge Charger stunt cars from “Bullitt.” The two are partnering up in hopes to restore “The Hunter’s” Trans Am to its original glory.

They went to pick it up, dug it out of a mess of a barn, and temporarily moved it to a nearby storage facility in which it will be housed until they come up with a solid plan for it. Until then, they’re calling out for fans help in collecting information and photos regarding the car and its participation in the filming of the movie. Eventually, Stan hopes to build a website showcasing the vehicle’s history.

About the author

Vinny Costa

Fast cars, motorcycles, and loud music are what get Vinny’s blood pumping. Catch him behind the wheel of his ’68 Firebird. Chances are, Black Sabbath will be playing in the background.
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