The Ford Mustang From Bullitt Just Sold For A Record-Breaking $3.7 Million

It's now the most expensive Mustang ever sold.

1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastback Bullitt Mecum Auctions Jan 2020
Mecum Auctions

After months of anticipation, the hammer finally came down on one of the most hotly hyped lots at this year’s Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida: the sale of the 1968 Ford Mustang GT driven by Steve McQueen in the legendary crime flick Bullitt. The world’s most famous pony car sold to a stunning bid of $3.4 million, making it the most expensive Mustang ever sold.

CNN reports that Mecum Auctions isn't identifying the buyer. And as their story notes, the car's incredible story and survivor status made it difficult to predict a selling price.

According to Mecum Auctions, this example is the sole survivor of two Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 Fastbacks ordered up by Warner Bros. for stunt car duty. Both had 325-horsepower 390 cu in big block V8s and four-on-the-floor manuals. One car saw so much abuse it was declared irreparable and scrapped, while this car remained mostly intact. After filming wrapped up, it was then sold to studio employee, Robert Ross, who used the car as a daily driver and commuter, a historic detail corroborated by the worn Warner Bros. parking sticker that still sits at the bottom-right corner of the windscreen next to the VIN plate.

It changed hands once more to a New Jersey-based police detective by the name of Frank Marranca in 1970, who himself also received certification from Warner Bros. for its use in the movie. But after reportedly having too many cars in his stable, Marranca placed a classified ad for the “Bullett” [sic] Mustang in the October 1974 issue of Road & Track, which is when it caught the eyes of the late Robert Kiernan of Madison, New Jersey.

As Mecum recounts, Kiernan then bought the hero car for just $6,000—or about $31,303 in today's money. According to a short video interview with Kiernan’s son Sean, his father didn’t really care so much for the fact that it was the actual Bullitt Mustang. But rather he purchased it to satisfy his own search for a ’68 big-block fastback, all because he loved the sounds their engines made. McQueen himself then attempted to buy the car from Kiernan. But Kiernan refused, as it was his family's primary vehicle and he wanted to keep it as such. Instead of going back to the superstar, it was driven daily by Robert’s wife as she shuttled young Sean to school.

After accumulating around 65,000 miles, the car’s clutch wore out in 1980. Since then, the Bullitt Mustang remained garaged as the family relocated several times before finally ending up in Nashville where the Kiernans settled on a new farm. In 2001, Ford launched a special edition Bullitt tribute car, inspiring the Kiernans to restore theirs to drivable condition. During the process, Robert unfortunately was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, putting a temporary stop to the restoration.

After his death in 2014, Sean picked up where they left off, completing the restoration to simply make the car roadworthy. This led him to register it as the 21st car in the National Historic Vehicle Register and collaborate with Ford Motor Company for its public debut alongside the third Bullitt Mustang tribute edition launch at the Detroit Auto Show in 2018.

Today's record-breaking price tag is just one more footnote in this Mustang's improbable story.

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