The 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, famously driven by Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt, has just sold at Mecum Kissimmee for a record price of $3,740,000 ($3,400,000 bid + 10% buyers premium). Although two cars were used in the filming of the iconic chase scene from Bullitt, this car (serial number ‘559) was the hero car that McQueen drove in many of the movie scenes. This price has set a new record for the sale of a Mustang, surpassing the sale of a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake which sold for $2.2 million in 2019.
After the Mustang had taken part in the most iconic chase scene in cinema history, the car was repaired, repainted, and sold to a Warner Bros. employee who registered and drove it until 1970. The car changed hands once more until Robert Kiernan of New Jersey saw the car advertised in the back of a 1974 issue of Road & Track stating “1968 Bullett Mustang driven by McQueen in the movie. Can be documented. Best offer.”
Kiernan was the only person who answered the ad and ended up owning the car for several decades as his family used it as their only vehicle, despite the fact that it has a straight piped exhaust. After several years of use, many people began to hunt for the car, with even Steve McQueen himself reaching out to buy the car back as long as it wasn’t “too much monies.” The Kiernan family never answered inquires as Bullitt was now a part of their family.
The Bullitt Mustang became the subject of many myths and legends into what had happened to it, or if it even still existed. After McQueen’s death, the hunt for the car intensified and in response, the family parked and hid the car for privacy reason and kept it a family secret for many decades. Robert and his son Sean had always considered rebuilding Bullitt and getting it running again as a father & son project, but unfortunately life got in the way and it was never able to come to fruition. After Robert Kiernan’s passing, Sean worked in secrecy for two years to get the car running again to bring it back to the former glory of the family’s car.
It was not until the 2018 North American International Auto Show, both the 50th anniversary of the car as well as Bullitt, was the car unveiled to the public for the first time in decades alongside the launch of the newest Ford Mustang Bullitt Edition. Prior to this unveiling, the Bullitt Mustang was photographed, laser scanned, and documented as the 21st car to be inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register. After the Bullitt Mustang’s induction to the NHVR, the car was displayed during our annual Cars at the Capital event where it sat front & center on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for all of the public to experience this piece of American automotive heritage.
“The Bullitt Mustang has made an indelible mark on international car culture through its role in film history. To this day, the visceral ten-minute car chase in the movie Bullitt remains one of the most exciting ever captured on film. It has been a pleasure for the HVA to work with the Kiernan family in order to document the rich history of this important example of our automotive heritage for the National Historic Vehicle Register” said Diane Parker, VP of the Historic Vehicle Association. What will happen next to the car is yet to be seen, but we hope that the new owner appreciates its rich history, is willing to preserve the car for future generations, and continue to share one of the most iconic pieces of American automotive and cinema history!