'Bullitt' Mustang fetches a cool $3.74 million at auction
The first two times the Mustang from the movie “Bullitt” was sold, it fetched $3,500.
On Friday, it garnered a bit more — $3.74 million, the most ever for a Mustang.
Then again, this was no ordinary car.
It starred in one of the most celebrated chase scenes in Hollywood history, throttling the hills of San Francisco in the 1968 movie. It didn’t hurt that it was driven by Steve McQueen.
The 1968 Mustang GT's charisma was evident as soon as Mecum Auctions staffers rolled it onto the showroom of an arena in Kissimmee, Fla., according to a video of the event.
Several hundred people stood, with many holding up phones to take photos.
“Holy smokes, look at all you,” Mustang owner Sean Kiernan said from the auction stage.
He asked that the auction start at $3,500 because that’s how much it had sold for the other two times it had been sold.
The first buyer was a police detective from New Jersey in 1970, and the second was Kiernan’s father, Robert, who had bought it in 1974. And that’s where the car remained until Robert’s death in 2014, when Sean took ownership.
It had disappeared for many years until Ford announced in 2018 that it had found it.
At the auction, the opening bid immediately jumped to $1 million and, a few seconds later, to $3 million.
Organizers kept urging the crowd to sit in their seats so the auctioneer could see bidders.
The name of the winning bidder wasn’t immediately available.
While the owner is unknown, the car certainly isn’t.
It’s a faded Highland Green with a blacked-out grille and rusted and dented panels. It has a rebuilt 390-cubic-inch V-8 and four-speed manual.
It was modified for the movie with additional horsepower, a beefed-up suspension and mounts to support the movie cameras.
The previous record-setter for a Mustang at auction was $2.2 million for a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold in 2019, according to Hagerty, the classic-car insurance company.
Only one other muscle car has brought more at auction, according to Hagerty: A 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible — one of just two delivered with a 426/425-horse V-8 and 4-speed manual transmission — changed hands for $3.78 million in 2014.
All of those fell well short of the most expensive American car ever auctioned – a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ that went for $22 million.