Steve McQueen's 'Bullitt' Mustang Has Become The Most Expensive Ever Sold
We're unfortunately entering an age where less and less young people are growing up indoctrinated in a world where the films of the great Steve McQueen are considered essential viewing.
However, perhaps comfortingly, the late action hero still boasts an iconic legacy — one capable of sparking the imagination and turning certain objects into cultural mementos, from the baseball glove he wore in The Great Escape to the TAG Heuer watches he famously became a symbol of in Le Mans.
However no piece of McQueen memorabilia has quite the power of Bullitt, the Ford Mustang he drove in the car movie of the same name.
As one of the stars of one of the most iconic car movies of all time, it's by far the most treasured Mustang ever made. And now, for the first time in over four decades, it's gone under the hammer, at $3.7 million becoming the most expensive Mustang ever publicly sold in the process.
Interestingly for a car of its value, Bullitt, as it's known, had a relatively obscure early life after it finished its movie career. Originally purchased for $3,500, it passed into the hands of a Warner Bros. employee, who used the car as a daily driver before selling it to a New Jersey detective.
It was later sold to Robert Kiernan who kept it for 40 years, unrestored, until his death in 2014. Interestingly, no-one actually knew that the car had been under his ownership. Assumed lost or stolen, it shocked the world when it was revealed at a Bullitt 50th anniversary event in 2018. By then, the car was under the ownership of Kiernan's son Sean, who handled the sale of the car.
"The Bullitt Mustang has it all: a great chase scene, the McQueen connection, and a fantastic backstory," said McKeel Hagerty, chief executive of Hagerty. “The fact that it had disappeared for decades, only to reemerge as an unrestored, movie-car time capsule is something we’ll likely never see again in our lifetimes."
Bullitt now remains as it was when it was being driven at the hands of Steve Mcqueen himself. Yet despite this, to honour the original price of the car, Kiernan reportedly insisted that it be offered at no reserve, with a starting bid of just $3,500.
Not that that really mattered. Bullitt eventually hammered for $5.41 million including buyer's fees, with the LA Times reporting that bidding for the car exceeded $2 million USD within about a minute. It beats a record set just last year by the one-and-only Shelby Cobra 'Super Snake', once driven to top speed by Carrol Shelby himself.