# 1 with a Bullitt!

This spring they actually found it.

Steve McQueen’s iconic 1968 Ford Mustang GT.
Only traces of its original highland green paint job remained as it had sat unnoticed in a backyard in Mexico for years. Collectors had been searching for it for decades.
Of course, this is not just any old ’68 Stang.

This was one of the original cars used in the classic Steve McQueen film Bullitt, a film that defined “cool” for a generation of Americans.
Now, I get it. This wasn’t discovering the Ark of the Covenant or the Ten Commandments, but the discovery stopped me dead in my tracks for two reasons.

First, I own a 1968 Bullitt myself. Not the original, of course, but a very close replica. You can call it my “midlife crisis!” People either “get it” or they don’t. On more than one occasion, when I have parked it in the lot, I will return with two or more admirers (always guys) standing by it with lots of questions.

Secondly, this story was of special interest to me because I’ve just spent a year of my life working on a new biography and documentary of Steve McQueen (with Marshall Terrill).

McQueen was Hollywood’s “King of Cool” for a reason. His legacy lives on in a new generation as his image is ubiquitous in culture (especially hipster culture). He also still appears in modern films like the recent remake of The Magnificent Seven. Yet, for most boomers like me, we can’t forget when we saw the original version of The Great Escape as McQueen played Virgil Hilts in a role that propelled him to super-stardom. Then there’s his role as the detective Frank Bullitt. He literally flies his car through the streets of San Francisco in what is regarded by many as the greatest car chase scene in cinematic history. Steve McQueen was not cool because he drove the Bullitt car. The Bullitt car was cool because Steve McQueen drove it.

At the time, Steve McQueen was the number-one movie star in the world, and he is still used as a point of reference for masculinity and “coolness” to this day. He was (and is) the definition of an American icon.

Only in America – with America’s dream – could McQueen transform his hardscrabble beginnings into epic stardom. Yet, until late in his life he struggled to find meaning in life, and he suffered because of it.

It might have been because he was born into a home of an alcoholic mother and a father that left him early in life, but eventually he found himself on the wrong side of the law more than once. Then, as his star began to rise higher and higher he began to chaser harder and harder after every pleasure this planet had to offer.

But notwithstanding all his fame and fortune, a colossal vacuum lived rent-free in Steve McQueen’s heart, a yawning chasm, a lack of purpose rooted in the absence of functional, involved parents. He spent his whole life avoiding his mother and searching for his father—searching for someone or something to stand in for him, someone to love him.

He had the best cars money could buy, the most beautiful women at his beck and call, drugs galore, booze until the well ran dry, and much more.
While still the top movie star on the planet, and with all the money and power in the world, he decided to search for more than this world could offer. That was the story I was interested in, and I chased it till I found it. Everyone knew about McQueen’s Bullitt! but I wanted to find McQueen’s salvation.

McQueen knew he needed God, and he found his way to salvation through Billy Graham’s gospel message. In fact, Billy visited him and gave him his personal New Testament from which he shared with him the teachings of Jesus.
Tragically, Steve McQueen found out he had cancer about 6 months after his conversion.
His newfound faith played a key role in dealing with the hardship that was to come, and he fought with great faith and courage to the very end.
As Steve’s son, Chad, said in a recent interview, “I think Dad was finding his way to go to the next place. I remember, he would wake me up at seven in the morning to go to church, which never happened before he got ill. So I think he was looking for peace.”

When McQueen died on an operating table in Mexico trying one last time to beat back his cancer. He died clutching the Billy Graham’s bible.
He nearly missed it but eventually he found what so many others need today, especially at the heights of fame and fortune. He needed faith in God, again.

This column appeared at the Fox News website.

6 thoughts on “# 1 with a Bullitt!”

  1. Jim says:

    My wife and I have both read the book and enjoyed it thoroughly. While on a bus trip while my wife was reading it, another passenger asked if she could read it next. It is a wonderful story and well done. Thanks for your work and your ministry.
    I too, grew up without a Dad, having lost him and two uncles when I was seven weeks old. Fortunately, I had a grandfather, an uncle, and a scout master that took me under their wing and helped me in the “growing up years” until I realized the True Father loved me even more by sending His Son to die for me.
    May God continue to bless your ministry!

  2. Melanie Springer says:

    In the 70s I met Mr McQueen at saddleback motor cross in Orange we use to take our dirt bikes there. On day we saw this guy on blue and white I think bull taco riding the park. After we ride and had a blast one of my brothers friends lost his chain it came off. Lo and behold This older guy comes over to see if he could help and with a pair if needle nose plyers fixed it. We were wow when it hit us who it was. I remember him being so nice to the guys and showed them a few tricks to fixing a broken chain to cool.

  3. Roger Smoot says:

    Thank you for your relentless research into the life and ultimate death of Steve McQueen. I read your book and could hardly put it down before finishing it. I praise our Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit for delivering him to salvation. I am pleased you included the fact that he would have, undoubtedly, become the sixth victim of the murderous Manson clan on the night of August 29, 1969 if he had not taken a detour to visit a friend instead of keeping his original plan to visit the Cielo Dr. home of Sharon Tate on that fateful date and time. Just a note: As a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff, I had been assigned to guard Charles Manson while he was “caged” at the Hall of Justice during the lengthy trial of Manson and his crazed, bloodthirsty and drugged followers. God bless you for your undying commitment to proclaim the Word of God to the lost–like our mutual hero, Steve McQueen. I am sure, like myself, that you would have been delighted to have known MCQueen personally. However, you came as close as possible to knowing him through your search into his past, and by meeting those closest to him.

  4. Doug knapp says:

    Chris, Steve may have not known any good works before he died but his life story told buy Greg and his movie will bring thousands to the saving grace of Jesus that are looking for the same thing Steve was looking for. That is steve’s good works God has his hand in everything!

  5. Chris says:

    Do you think that McQueen left to go to Jesus without any good works to his name?

  6. Dick Adams says:

    Saw your article about Steve McQueen on foxnews.com this morning, and was delighted to see this little known story getting the air time it deserves. Keep up the good work!

    God bless,

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