Great article. My favorite movie of all time. Also, a tremendous sales tool. I may actually consider buying a new Bullitt
I always enjoy my Hagerty magazine and read it cover to cover when it arrives. I had to comment on this excellent article in the forum. Steve McQueen was as iconic as they get and it’s incredibly fortunate that Robert Kiernan had the foresight when opportunity presented itself to not only purchase the car but keep it perpetuity when I’m sure at times it might have been tempting to sell it, or given another personality type conduct some kind of three ring circus get rich quick scheme where the Bullitt Mustang has a less than happy ending.
As a collector I’m a propoenent of preservation vs restoration when ever possible and it appears that Sean is following in his father’s footsteps regards the Bullitt Mustang.
It would nice to see some type of collaboration between Sean Kiernan and Chad McQueen as a way to honor the memories of the respective fathers and the tie-in with the car. But for now, I’ll just have to settle for the small screen and one of my favorite actors and a great vehicle.
C-385, read your post regarding a remake of the movie. Excellent choice but I’d also nominate Matt Damon and give consideration to Jeremy Renner for the role. Steve McQueen’s characters always had that wary, your gonna have to bust you butt to be my friend quality about them. The consumate loner.
I did not know all the history behind this car, and I do feel bad for Steve. Being a part time racer myself I would give my left to keep my cars with me. You get really attached to your race cars and when they leave its like one of your children going off to college. But I am glad they found it and its in good hands, not some money grubbing collector who has no attachment to it at all. Great article and keep them coming.
Due to the tremendous historical significance of this automobile it should be someplace other than an old garage in the middle of nowhere. At what point does sentiment give way to reality? Huge reward vs. huge risk must be taken into account. Steve and Bob certainly were a couple of stubborn guys but that car IS Steve to millions of fans whereas it IS Bob only to Bob’s son. (And the fact that Bob let his wife use it as a daily commuter car? I’m having a hard time with that.) Sean, it’s your car but if you had some other hugely significant and hugely valuable historical artifact would you just keep it in your garage because it meant a lot to your Dad? It’s been a great chapter for both of you but it sure seems like a perfect time to start writing a new chapter, generationally funded and risk free.
I finally got around to reading this article. I’m glad I did! It’s great that the car was left original. The movie will always be one of the best chase scenes of all times. (Of course there’s bits in the scenes that don’t appear to be real, but it’s the Sixties, and that’s what makes it so special!) Remember, Steve McQueen did all the driving stunts… I’d probably keep this car as long as possible if it were mine as well. I guess only real “car guys” gets it.
In 1967, my dad’s co teacher in Le Grand, California, brought home a Highland green 1967 Mustang coupe, with the 390 4 barrel carb, and manual four speed tranny.
It was the first time I’d ever seen my dad actually envious! God the sound it made! I lived for that!
A few months later we were told by a McAully Motors (Merced, Ca.) salesman that the Mercury version of the of that Mustang (an XR7) would be delivered to there dealership in a couple of weeks.
When we got there, it was still in the shop being readied to go to the showroom floor.
Still remember my mother excitedly grabbing my dads arm saying "Jim let’s get it!"
So that metallic bronze 67 came home with us a few days later.
I have no idea what possessed my dad to let me drive it a few times (I was a short kid of 14 at that time, and had to have a few sofa cushions under my butt and back, even with the seat fully forward, so I could reach the clutch, brake & gas peddles!), but I’m sure glad I got the chance.
Then late in 2002, the wife is reminiscing about her 73 Mustang she had in high school & college, and was kind of bored with the Plymouth Grand Voyager we had (it was a wonderful mini van, no problems, but we weren’t hauling kids to church or school anymore), and wondered if we could get a Mustang again.
Weeks after that conversation, and being consoled by a high school classmate who was helping me through the loss of my father, told me to come by the car dealership he worked at.
"You need to talk out your feelings after loosing your dad. A buddy of mine helped me after my dad passed three years ago, so stop by and we’ll talk.
So I did, in Los Banos, Ca. at the Ford dealership.
As we were talking, the phone rang, so he said "I gotta take this call, take a look around and see if you like anything. I’ll be done in about 10 minutes.
Thirty seconds later, I’m looking at a 2001 Mustang in black, the torque thrust style wheels just grabbed my attention. As I walked around looking at it (oddly, it was jammed way back in a corner of the showroom), I noted it looked like it was lower than the Mustangs of the same year.
Then I got to the back. There on the lower left corner of the trunk lid was the word “BULLITT” instead of GT.
OH Nooooo. I got sweaty, and could feel my pulse go up 20 points…
I wonder if the wife would like THIS Mustang…
So when Brad finished his phone call and walked over to me (I hadn’t looked at anything else at this point), slapped his hand on my shoulder, snapping me out if my ‘trance’, said “so you like this one?”
“I know I’m going to regret this,” I said, "but I’d like to hear what it sounds like. " Brad flashes a big grin, and says "Yeah, your going to love it. I enjoy hearing it too."
With that, he fires it up, and boy, he wasn’t kidding! ( I heard the engineers played with the exhaust for three months to get “that sound”).
On the test drive, I looked over at Kathy, who had the biggest grin on her face as she shifted from 2nd to 3rd, then looked at the salesman in the back seat and said "I think we’ll take it!"
In 2004 or 05, I took it to Buttonwillow Raceway just northwest of Bakersfield and ran on the track several several sessions.
(I even got a couple of complements from some BMW drivers, amazed that they couldn’t get around me on the long track!)
It was an AWSOME day (Vic Edelbrock brought some of his toys, and the number 13 Camero was on the track at the same time)
Our BULLITT #3050 will stay in our family a long time. (LeGrand BULLITT)
Love the article! One of my favorite movies that McQueen starred in. If that car was mine, my biggest fear would be some loser comes along and steals it. It is way to valuable to lock up in your garage at home. Hopefully the son figures out a nice secure place to store it until the day comes when he parts with it, if that day ever comes!
I believe Ford owned or had control over disposal of the cars. If you look up info on the other stunt car, they demanded it be destroyed as they were afraid of any lawsuits should someone get hurt. Also at that time movie cars weren’t considered anything special, they were reused, crashed and gotten rid of.
The Chevy Bel-Air Harrison Ford drove in American Graffiti and the one James Taylor drove in Two Lane Blacktop are the same car with repaint.
I almost bought the Bullitt beauty car before the guy who sold it to the final owner. I was too late to meet the owner and it was already gone. I found it in an L.A. Times classified ad and the last sale was through a car magazine ad I think
It’s a great scene but Steve didn’t do ALL the stunts. His pal Bud Ekins (who also did the motorcycle jump in The Great Escape) did the big stunts in the second ‘stunt’ Mustang. That’s the one that was recently found in Mexico.
Also all the stunts were real. They jazzed it up with smoke pumping out the tires through a machine and the crash at the end was an empty Dodge Charger attached to the stunt car then let go to crash into the gas station.
My car buddy Harry Somerield was an assistant cameraman on the film and confirmed this.
I wish that car would find a real garage, temp. controlled, etc. It’s just rusting away needlessly! I understand he wants to keep it. I probably would too, but come on, give it the respect, and care it deserves! I’m not even saying restore it, just stop it from falling apart needlessly!.
Great article, undeniably the best car chase on film (even though I am a Mopar guy, '71 Charger), as you point out the realism is the secret sauce there. As far as what to do with it, it looks beautiful just as it is, and we’re lucky it’s in the condition that it is and it wasn’t driven into a tree or crushed. To us it’s McQueens car, but for Sean this is his dad’s car, its a family member, I wish him good luck as he figures out the way forward.
Steve made a mistake; in his contract he should have the studio include all 3 principle cars, the 2 Mustangs and the Dodge charger. At the time it was just another film, and I’m sure he didn’t realize that that chase scene would set a standard that would make all three cars as popular as they are. The movie "Love Bug " did wonders for the sales of the VW Beetle car. Hollywood has a great influence on the American public and what they think and buy. More '67 and '68 Mustang Fastbacks have been ruined because of “Gone In 60 Seconds” Monkey see monkey do.
johnziraldo… You would “give it to him”? Did you mean that literally?
I won’t advocate for the opposite—demanding crazy money for it from young McQueen—but somehow, I can’t believe that you would “give it to him”… without some sort of “compensation”. If so, then it’s better off with Kiernan.
packardtwelve1934 …Yes, I did mean it literally.
I feel Bob Kiernan should have sold it to Steve McQueen when he made an offer. Instead he let it sit in a garage, unused, robbed of parts, and deteriorating. If I was Bob I would have sold it to Steve for a good price.
After so many years have passed and young McQueen still wants the car and the Kiernan’s were still doing nothing with it, I don’t think they deserved to get rich from it. If I had it and young McQueen came to me and I liked and trusted him, I would literally give him back his father’s car.
I saw the movie “Bullitt” in 1968 as a 16 year old and fell in love with that Mustang, I had to have one. I saved my money and found a 1967 GT Fastback 4 speed 390 engine in the Dark Highland Green while in high school. I still have the Mustang today, unrestored and looks better than the day I bought.it. Garage kept for over almost 50 years. My first date with my wife was in this Mustang, my children and grandchildren have grown up around this Mustang. My son got tired waiting for me to turn the keys over to him and went out and bought a new 2008 Bullitt Mustang. Both cars have a lot of storage time, my Mustang has 56K miles and his has 5K miles. I was drafted into the Army in 1972 and spent 42 years working for the Army and that’s when the storage began. I’m thankful for my dad and sister for allowing me to store my Mustang in their garages while I was away and then able to my own house and able to store it. Seeing the Bullitt Mustang in Detroit was truely amazing for me.
@jdjess2 - That’s an awesome pairing for a father and son! Really cool to see classic and late model sitting side by side.
I Like YOURS better than McQueen’s!
Think I might own the yellow Porsche in the movie but not sure.Any info would be helpful.
Even though my BULLITT Mustang is a 2008 model, I still love it and always will. The engine will get the job done and sounds great (with its Borlas). And the green paint is done right! So be it. Kimble B.