Mecum Auctions

The final scene: “Bullitt” Mustang sells for record price


The wait is over. The drama has reached its denouement. After being parked inside a glass display case in The Glass House where featured vehicles are securely showcased, the Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang 390, the workhorse chase car from the Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt,” sold at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida, for a hammer price of $3.4 million.

Add in the 10-percent buyer’s premium and the total transaction was $3.74 million, which insurance and value-tracking company Hagerty says not only is the most expensive Mustang transaction as well as the highest auction price for an American muscle car.

The car emerges from its protective clear box in The Glass House

Bullitt on its way to the auction arena

Bullitt on its way to the auction arena

A record crowd awaits the car’s appearance

A record crowd awaits the car’s appearance

Mecum staff opened the glass case at about 1:45 p.m. (Eastern time) on Friday and hustled the car down the ramps, out into the alley and into the main auction building, where it became Lot F150 on the auction calendar, the last lot of the day.

When the time came, Mecum doused the house lights for a few minutes, turned on the hue “BULLITT” signs around the room, and announced the car to enormous cheers from the crowd.

The car sold, it heads back to its glass garage before being delivered to its next owner

The car sold, it heads back to its glass garage before being delivered to its next owner

he hammer price lights up the tote board at Kissimmee | Jim McCraw photos

he hammer price lights up the tote board at Kissimmee | Jim McCraw photos

On the block, where the Bullitt Mustang hammered sold for $3.4 million

On the block, where the Bullitt Mustang hammered sold for $3.4 million

At exactly 2:30 p.m., Sean Kiernan, whose family had the car in Madison, New Jersey, for 45 years, announced that the opening bid would be $3,500, which is the price his father had paid for what was then a used, albeit famous, piece of movie history.

For several years, the car became a daily driver for Sean Kirnan’s school-teaching mother, but then was simply stored away and kept as a family secret until 2018, when it emerged and was quickly included on the National Historic Vehicle Register.

The packed house was on its feet and cheered. That initial bid quickly was multiplied many times over. And then the serious money showed up and it was apparent that this was going to be a contest of wills and bank accounts.

The hammer finally came down at 2:41 p.m. and the car was pushed offstage and returned to its glass case for the rest of the weekend, to await the finalization of the transaction and the handover to the new owner, who was not identified.

Sean Kiernan decided months ago it was time for his family to sell its famous car

Sean Kiernan decided months ago it was time for his family to sell its famous car

After the sale, when asked if he was nervous or excited, Sean Kiernan said, “I’ve been at peace with the sale for about eight months.”

He also told us that he would be using some of the money from the sale to find, restore and hotrod another ’68 Mustang 390.

It was a great show from start to finish for Mecum during the week-long run. Well, except for the crowd control around the car that in large part accounts for some of our abysmal photographs.

“Movie and TV cars have always been worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for them,” he noted in a statement. “But the “Bullitt” Mustang has it all – a great chase scene, the McQueen connection and a fantastic backstory. The fact that it had disappeared for decades, only to re-emerge as an unrestored, movie-car time capsule is something we’ll likely never see again in our lifetimes.”

This article, written by Jim McCraw, was originally published on ClassicCars.com, an editorial partner of Motor Authority.



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Auctions, Bullitt, Bullitt Mustang, Car Culture, Ford Mustang, Mecum Auctions, Steve McQueen, World Record

Bullitt hammers for $3.4MM at Mecum Kissimmee — A new record! | ClassicCars.com Journal


Bullitt Mustang
Hero car Bullitt Mustang will be on display at Dallas auction | Mecum Auctions photos

Everyone said it would set the new record for Mustangs and possibly muscle cars alike. The Steve McQueen Bullitt Mustang GT certainly raised the bar for Mustangs. At the end of the bidding the hammer price of $3.4 Million not only broke records, but wowed the throngs of spectators that crowded the Osceola Heritage Park Hall in Kissimmee, Florida. There’s been a lot of speculation. Now we know.

The pricey 1968 Highland Green GT was walked in like a prizefighter. Known as the the “hero” car used in filming. It was used for closeups and driving scenes, while an identical Mustang was setup as a stunt car. That stunt car was essentially wrecked from an arduous schedule of “gags” on set.

The Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt has inspired countless tributes. | Warner Brothers ScreenshotThe Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt has inspired countless tributes. | Warner Brothers Screenshot
The Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt has inspired countless tributes. | Warner Brothers Screenshot

When Ford unveiled the new 2019 Mustang Bullitt model during a press preview before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2018, they also unveiled the actual Bullitt Mustang in its original survivor petina.

Robert Kiernan had bought it as simply a used car in 1974. He knew of the car’s provenance, but the collector car market was different then and this car was not any more valuable than any other Mustang at the time. The car has been in the possession of the family since.
The car was driven for years by Robert’s wife, Robbie, as her daily to her job as a schoolteacher.

The first-ever Shelby Cobra still holds the muscle record of $13.75 Million, sold by RM Sothebys at Monterey 2016.

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Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the ClassicCars.com Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.

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