Original Mustang from 'Bullitt' that made splash in Detroit going up for sale

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

It's been almost two years since the beloved green 1968 Mustang GT Fastback that Steve McQueen once drove — a car most thought lost — emerged on Ford Motor Co.'s stand at the Detroit auto show.

Now, the owners are ready to sell it.

Sean Kiernan poses in front of his 1968 Mustang GT Fastback in August 2018.

Sean Kiernan, the guy who owns the car and spent years putting it back together, announced on social media that he plans to auction off the "Bullitt" pony car made famous by the movie of the same name.

"I can promise that we have thought this through together and decided that this is the best decision for the family," Kiernan wrote. "Bullitt has been part of my family for 45 years and we have celebrated her in the grandest way possible, and now it will have a new role and new meaning to the future owner."

Mecum Auction Inc. will handle the sale of the car. It will headline the Kissimiia, Florida, auction in January, and the sale will be announced next August in California.

"I have accomplished what I set out to do with the car: Tell my Dad’s story in the best way possible and share the car with the world," Kiernan wrote. "I had no idea what to expect when we unveiled the car in January 2018 in Detroit, but since then everyone has been absolutely excited and respectful to see the car and hear the story. I have met many awesome people along the way and have heard many amazing stories."

Ford found Kiernan before it planned to unveil its own special-edition Bullitt Mustang in 2018. The automaker had Kiernan roll the car on stage in Detroit alongside the new Bullitt. Kiernan had Molly McQueen, Steve McQueen's granddaughter, in the passenger seat then. 

That kicked off a world tour of sorts for Kiernan, his family and the car. Ford flew them all to the the U.K. for the Goodwood Festival of Speed last July. Then the car stopped back in Metro Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise in August. There were other stops throughout the year and, most of the time, Kiernan's beloved car was protected behind a glass case.

His late father, Bob, bought the car in the early 1970s from the man who got it after shooting had finished on "Bullitt." Only four people besides Kiernan have sat in the driver's seat after the film: his mom; his father; Jay Leno; and the man who owned the vehicle for a brief time after the movie.

Kiernan's mother, Robbie, drove it around as her daily vehicle before she and her late husband started a family. Kiernan turned off the odometer so that the last mile recorded on the car was the one driven by his father.

He and his father tore the car apart in 2001. Kiernan reassembled the vehicle in 2014 after his dad died. He told The Detroit News last year that he was “preserving” the car McQueen drove during filming, not restoring it. It still has holes in the body from the camera mounts and the paint is faded in various places.

"I don't want to erase history," Sean Kiernan said then. "The car is a timeline of my life."

Kiernan could not immediately be reach for comment Thursday.


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau