The Bullitt Mustang has just cemented its place in automotive history

We’re not here to tell you that a lot of gearheads got the car virus thanks to the movie Bullitt. We won’t even tell you how great of an actor Steve McQueen was. We’re here to tell you that the original Bullitt Mustang sold for a fortune.

The car’s history itself is quite impressive, but the fact that in was able to fetch record-setting money at auction says a lot about what Bullitt, Steve McQueen, and an iconic car can mean to some people.

From $2,712 MSRP to $3.74 million at auction

The Original 1968 Bullitt Mustang Became the Most Expensive Mustang In History
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Back in 1968, a brand new Ford Mustang GT 390 like the one drove by Mr. McQueen in Bullitt was $2,712. According to Fox News, the original Bullitt Mustang from the movie was just sold for $3.74 million at the Mecum Auctions event held in Kissimmee, Florida, on the 10th of January, 2020.

The buyer’s identity remained undisclosed at the time of writing. What’s more, Hagerty reports that the 1968 Bullitt Mustang shattered the record for the most expensive Mustang to ever sell at a public auction.

The car found its way into the Kiernan family through Sean’s father, Robert, who back in 1974, six years out of the movie, stumbled upon a classified ad in a Road & Track magazine that said ‘1968 Mustang Bulitt car.’ Yes, according to Sean, the movie’s name was indeed misspelled in the ad, with just one ‘l’ instead of two.

Believe it or not, Sean’s father was the only one that actually called the owner about the car and he ended up paying $6,000 for it. Robert wanted a daily driver for him and his wife, and as a fan of all-things Shelby GT350 and GT500, a Mustang Fastback looked like the perfect car.

Three years later, in December 1977, Steve McQueen himself sends a letter to Sean’s dad, asking for the car back. Of course, Mr. McQueen was refused politely, no regrets whatsoever. However, living with the Bullitt Mustang wasn’t easy. According to Sean, registering it was close to an ordeal because the car actually has no reverse lights and the exhaust is extremely loud so ‘the state of New Jersey didn’t quite want the car on the road.’

The Original 1968 Bullitt Mustang Became the Most Expensive Mustang In History
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Then the internet came and with it a lot of talk about the car. But the Kiernans managed to hide the car from prying eyes. Yet after Robert Kiernan passed away in 2014 and with the Bullitt’s 50th anniversary coming up, Sean decided it’s time to introduce the car to the world.

With a little help from Ford, the car was brought to a running state and displayed at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.

The 1968 Bullitt Mustang had a 390 cubic-inch (6.4-liter) V-8 that cranks out 320 horsepower and 427 pound-feet of torque sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual gearbox. This car, however, was fitted with a Borg-Wagner T-10 heavy-duty transmission. In the stock car, top speed came in at 105 miles per hour and the quarter-mile run was dispatched in less than 14 seconds.

1968 Bullitt Mustang specifications
Engine: 6.4-liter, naturally-aspirated, V-8
Output (stock): 320 horsepower at 4,800 RPM
Torque 427 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm
Performance (stock): Top speed of 105 mph and a quarter mile time of 13.9 seconds
Transmission (on Bullitt cars): 4-speed heavy-duty Borg-Warner gearbox with Borg-Warner clutch
Suspension (on Bullitt cars): Heavy-duty coil springs with Koni shocks, and Helwig stabilizer bars
Weight: Under 2,800 pounds
Brakes: disc brakes up front with drums at the rear
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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