History has largely forgotten the 1999 remake of Steve McQueen’s The Thomas Crown Affair, but the off-road Mustang featured in the film has become something of an icon.
When it comes to the annals of Western cinema, the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair is a footnote at best. It took a slick but forgettable Steve McQueen vehicle and turned it into a slick but forgettable Pierce Brosnan vehicle. The 1999 Thomas Crown Affair was, like the original, not a ‘car movie’. But, while sticking quite closely to the plot of the 1968 version, it did make two changes that are interesting within the context of this motoring magazine. Firstly, as mentioned, it replaced Steve McQueen – real-life racing driver and the embodiment of ‘60s American cool – with the rather stuffy (and very British) Pierce Brosnan. It was, to put it delicately, an ‘interesting’ choice.
The second change that the movie made was far more palatable. In the solitary significant driving scene of the original, Steve McQueen can be seen driving a Manx dune buggy. It’s a fun little vehicle and McQueen can be seen getting some impressive air in it on some small sand dunes. The 1999 version doesn’t have a beach buggy, but it does boast a very attention-grabbing Ford Mustang. The vehicle in question is a 1967 G.T. 500 with chunky off-road tyres, a roll cage with spotlights, flared wheel arches and a spare wheel on the boot. John McTiernan, the director of the film, got hold of the car for one of his earlier films, The Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it was never used. The bulky action star was apparently just too brawny for the cabin of the Mustang and looked silly in it. Schwarzenegger’s character was instead given a Bonneville convertible.
The 1967 Mustang GTA convertible spent a few years in McTiernan’s barn, until he decided to use it in The Thomas Crown Affair. To create the off-road Mustang, McTiernan approached a company called Picture Cars East, which regularly provided film productions with unusual vehicles. The company was given the rusty Mustang and a rough sketch of what the off-road Mustang should look like. They got the 289 engine back up and running, rebuilt the car, made it to look like a Shelby G.T. 500 and added the requested off-road bits. Apart from a few brief but memorable scenes in the film, the Mustang has disappeared from the public sphere. You’ll find no images or footage of it online. However, the car has inspired some cool replicas. A company called Classic Design Concepts in the US has created one for a client based on a 1968 G.T. 350. More famously, Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage and the television show Fast N’ Loud has also built one based on a 1968 Shelby Mustang. It has become one of Gas Monkey’s signature cars.
THOMAS CROWN MUSTANG REPLICA
Manufacturers Classic Design Concepts (CDC) and Gas Monkey Garage
Based on Mustang from 1999 film The Thomas Crown Affair
Engine Gas Monkey Garage engine is unknown, but CDC Mustang has a Ford Performance 302 cub inch powerplant.
Transmission Tremec five-speed manual
Text: GG van Rooyen