After filming, the car was sold off, and eventually wound up in the hands of Robert Kiernan, Jr. McQueen himself tracked the Mustang down and made a half-hearted attempt to buy it back, but Kiernan kept it, even using it as a daily driver for several years. Kiernan died in 2014 and ownership passed to his son Sean, who worked with Ford to bring the Mustang back into the spotlight.
Ford is launching a special-edition Bullitt Mustang to commemorate the movie’s 50th anniversary, so the timing for a comeback couldn’t have been better. The movie car appeared at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, marking the first time it had been seen in public in decades. Between the appearances in Detroit and D.C., Ford and the car’s owner are making up for lost time.