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It’s arguably the most famous movie car of all time – and now the original Bullitt Mustang is going to auction for the first time ever.
Yes, the actual Ford Mustang GT that Steve McQueen raced around the streets of San Francisco in legendary cop thriller Bullitt will be offered for sale at Mecum’s Kissimmee sale this Friday, 10 January.
What’s more, it will go under the hammer with no reserve – and there’s every chance it will make a fortune when it does so.
The Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback has lived a long and complicated life.
Two ’Stangs were used in the filming of Bullitt: a ‘hero’ car driven by McQueen throughout the movie, plus a ‘jump’ car used mainly for stunt sequences.
This car is the ‘hero’ car, which means it stars in one of the most memorable of all cinematic car chases, with McQueen tearing it up and down the hills of San Francisco for almost 10 minutes in pursuit of two mob hitmen.
Both vehicles were seemingly lost to history once filming ended, but the jump car was found in a Mexican junkyard in 2017. Then, in January 2018, the hero car also resurfaced.
So where had it been? Well, it was initially sold to a Hollywood studio executive and then to a New York detective. A few years later, in 1974, it was snapped up by New Jersey insurance executive Robert Kiernan for the princely sum of $6000.
Kiernan and his family used it as a daily driver for the next few years, racking up 30,000 miles in the process – and during that time even turned down two offers for the car from McQueen, who clearly thought it would make a nice addition to his own collection.
Then, in 1980, it developed mechanical problems and was put into storage – and there it stayed for nearly 40 years.
Kiernan’s son Sean inherited the car when his father passed away in 2014, and he finally decided to restore it – and reveal it to the world – in time for the film’s 50th anniversary in 2018.
The restoration has, thankfully, displayed a light touch: the car remains in its original condition, complete with the blemishes and dents it earned from its time as a film star.
Since its reappearance, the Bullitt Mustang has embarked on something of a world tour, appearing at the Detroit auto show, the Amelia Island concours d’elegance and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, among other prestigious events.
Now, after “a lot of conversation and prayer” Sean has decided the time is right to sell it on again.
In a post on Instagram last year, he continued: “Bullitt has been part of my family for 45 years and we have celebrated her in the grandest way possible, and now it will have a new role and new meaning to the future owner. I have accomplished what I set out to do with the car; tell my Dad’s story in the best way possible and share the car with the world.”
When plans to auction this car were revealed at the start of Mecum’s Monterey auction last August, the firm’s founder Dana Mecum called it “one of the most highly sought-after automobiles of all-time”.
It has since been exhibited at various automotive events around the United States in the run up to Friday’s Kissimmee auction.