Steve McQueen's original Mustang Bullitt found after nearly 40 years

| 15 Jan 2018
Steve McQueen Ford Mustang Bullitt

The Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt has been rediscovered after spending years forgotten in a garage.

The 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback stars in one of the most memorable of all cinematic car chases, with McQueen tearing it up and down the hills of San Francisco for almost 10 minutes in pursuit of two mob hitmen.

Two Mustangs were used in filming: one was the 'hero' car driven by McQueen throughout the movie, while the other, called the 'jump' car, was used mainly for stunt sequences. Both had been lost to history, until the jump car was found in a Mexican junkyard last year.

Now the hero car has also resurfaced – and just in time for the film's 50th anniversary. 

Steve McQueen Ford Mustang Bullitt

After the movie's completion, the vehicle was sold first to a Hollywood studio exec and then to a New York detective. When the detective decided to move it on in 1974, it came to the attention of New Jersey insurance executive – and Mustang fan – Robert Kiernan, who gleefully paid $6000 for it. 

And it seems he wasn't the only big fan: McQueen himself tried to buy the car back from Kiernan on two occasions in the late '70s, only to be told that it wasn't for sale.

Steve McQueen Ford Mustang Bullitt
Steve McQueen Ford Mustang Bullitt

Some 30,000 miles later, in 1980, mechanical issues led to it being stored away in the Kiernans' garage, where it then stayed for the next 38 years.

Sean Kiernan, Robert’s son, inherited the car when his father passed away in 2014.

He explains, "You know, it was never our intention to keep this car a secret from everybody. It just kind of happened with life."

Kiernan decided to restore the Mustang in time for the film's 50th anniversary this year, and contacted Ford with his plans. Ford unsurprisingly jumped at the chance to showcase it at the Detroit Auto Show this weekend, alongside a new 2019 model.

Steve McQueen Ford Mustang Bullitt

The limited-edition 2019 Bullitt has a 5-litre V8 engine capable of pumping out at least 475bhp, and a top speed of 163mph. It's due out in the US this summer and, as a nod to the original, features a white cue ball gearstick knob. It'll also be available in Dark Highland Green, just as the car driven by McQueen was. 

Darrell Behmer, Mustang chief designer, said, “This new Bullitt is, as Steve McQueen was, effortlessly cool. As a designer, it’s my favorite Mustang – devoid of stripes, spoilers and badges. It doesn’t need to scream about anything – it’s just cool.”