Found: the real Bullitt Mustang that Steve McQueen tried (and failed) to buy


An heirloom Mustang—driven by Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt—becomes a family’s secret treasure, leaving a son with both a gift and a burden.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/14/mustang-bullitt-found-real-mcqueen


I cannot understand why a person would keep an iconic car like that sitting, just collecting dust in a garage. Steve McQueen just like the late Paul Newman had a passionate love affair with cars and they were both outstanding race driver. I could understand him turning down Mr. Cool, the man, the legend Steve McQueen. I would have only sold the car if McQueen was willing to pony up with some high money offers. Anything that he drove from his Porsches and Jags, to his motorcycles will command huge amounts of money if one wants to purchase them. Along with millions of other fans of Mr. McQueen, the movie Bullit mezmerized me as a 13 year old kid back in 1968 sitting spellbound in the movie theater up in Seattle when it came out. I have owned two 67 Shelby GT500’s , the last being a dark moss greencolored mustang just like Steve’s GT.Mine had a rare 427 side oiler and a 4 speed top loader. Those pony cars were bad ass and fun to drive!!! I hope to see this Bullit Mustang out here at the Monterey Historic Car Races sometime in the future. Thank you Hagerty for the article.


What a fabulous story! Thanks for the great article.


I’m curious to know why Brad Bowling forgot to mention that while I was working for Columbia Pictures on “Charlies Angels” as the picture car coordinator, I’m the one who found the owner of this Bullitt Mustang which was located in a barn in Morning View Kentucky. With the help of David Kuntz, a camera man at Channel 7 News in L.A. David had acquired photos taken of the car by the next door neighbor of the owner of the barn in which the car which was located. I engaged the photog to provide info of the actual owner and he provided me with that info, I called Robert Kiernan to inquire about the use of the car in the movie promising not to reveal his name. He turned us down and told me he was going to give the car to his son for his 16th birthday. If you would like, you can contact me and I will provide more details on the history of the car and my contact with Robert as I spent 3 months researching it for the director, McG.


Well, because people are different. Which means some people have different relationships with cars than others do. And what’s right for you is wrong for them, and vice-versa. Not much more to it…


I don’t care about the how, the when or whatever - this is just fantastic news!!! It’s in your father’s name, but truly it belongs to the world. Thank You Sean Kiernan!


Can’t believe I read the whole thing!!! I am not a Ford person but always loved Steve McQueen and ended up loving this article - actually a good story! We have 73 AMC Javelin in our garage that started life as my mom’s car. Dad was a dealer, mom ordered what she wanted and drove it 3yrs., the person dad sold it to kept it the rest of his life and we bought it back. Sometimes things are just meant to be. I hope Sean Kiernan keeps the “Bullitt Mustang” and continues on with it as he feels he should. What a story!!!


What a fantastic story and article. So thankful for people like Sean and his late father. All the best in the future and may you prosper from your resolve. McQeen’s watch broke the bank, this car could crush Wall Street!!


This car should be in Ford Motor Company’s museum in Dearborn. So many could see and enjoy it then.


Good for Sean and his family! To hell with giving it up to Ford or any other museum. People are so quick to tell strangers what to do. If my dad had the foresight to buy the legendary Bullitt mustang I wouldn’t let it go either, unless someone is willing to fork over $4-5 mil for it.


This is so awesome. Might be a little odd,but I learned of the Bullitt not until 2001 when Ford released the special edition model in 2001. I saw it on motor trend tv with the interview with Chad McQueen. I fell in love with the car instantly. In short, the 2001 Bullitt model sparked my interest into the original movie, and car. Thank you for sharing this.


Robert Kiernan legally acquired the Bullitt Mustang and I really can’t find fault with him not wanting to sell it and wanting to pass it along to his son, who is obviously well-suited to care for the car. He obviously didn’t need the money and knew he had a treasure. I think what his son is doing with the car is really special. He understands its significance and is trying to find a way to share it with the world without losing ownership of the car. This car was a bond between father and son - that has real value too. Steve McQueen obviously wanted the car back but based on the letter he wrote - he must have sense it was a lost cause. I have my father’s Street Rod - it’s simply not for sale. Someone could offer me $5 million for it and it’s not for sale. There are some things in life you just don’t sell - your father’s prized vehicle is one of them. Sean - if you’re reading this - thank you for sharing YOUR car, and don’t ever part with it - your Dad wanted you to have it and you’ll figure out what the next steps are as you go.


What happened to the tail panel. it is different on the movie car than Kiernans car. is there a story behind that?

Also I saw that Chad McQueen was interested in the car. Be great to reunite them.



Great story, exceptional article!
And this car is far more ‘authentic’ than the Mexico car.
Bravo to Mr. Kiernan for keeping it ‘real’.


I love this article. My husband, Kimsey, received a 1966 SS Chevelle for graduation. He drank, he drag raced, wrecked the car a few times and finally after a stint in Viet Nam and marriage, he traded the car for something more sensible. Anyway, about 10-12 years later, he got the itch again and we wound up with 2 Chevelle bodies (Malibu and SS) . He and my brother rebuilt both of them but it was shade tree mechanics. Then the bottom fell out of farming and we were forced to find employment elsewhere which was a military base in Savannah Ga. He sold the best looking car and we brought the other one to Richmond Hill, GA , but didn’t have the funds to do anything. We were poor and in farm debt up to our eye brows. He traded this car for a crappy flat bottom boat and motor and that was that. With the intense interest in 1966 SS Chevelles, we have been searching for one to have a chance at a do-over. We finally found one in November 2017, at a steal of a price. He and our son is finishing the restoration and its great to see them working together. Kimsey is 69 and Jason is 40. Yes, I’m right there, not under the hood, but on the computer. It’s rare that someone gets the chance for a do-over. And this one is great.


Does anyone know the story of why the car was sold by the studio in the first place? If Solar Productions, McQueen’s own company, was the first owner of the car, and McQueen wanted the car after the movie was completed, I don’t understand why it would have ever been sold.


This was an interesting read. Just a few days ago, I watched Bullitt on the TCM channel. It’s a movie I’ll watch whenever I can.
I am happy to know that the Mustang(s) still exist, but I think that Mr. Kiernan will now be inundated with unwanted requests and offers.
I wish him good luck for his future plans for himself and the car.


Thanks for showing the car to the world, finally, Sean. I’d like to see it in 2018 somewhere as I figure there may be a full slate of “appearances” for the old Highland Green actor.


Interesting article. The photos show the auto to have been “ridden hard and put away wet,” meaning it’s in very poor condition. In my view, it is close to junk now. I’d like to see the car completely restored and then displayed as a very classic car.


@lincole - I expect the preservation vs. restoration debate to be strong on this car.

It’s only original once, but on the other hand a piece of history does deserve to be remembered as such, rather than a rougher version of what it once was.