October 17, 1968 – Bullitt hits theaters, stars 1968 Mustang & Steve McQueen

Thin lined and fueled by octane, Bullitt was a box office hit that made its theatrical debut on this day in 1968. The film is centered around San Francisco Police Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, who sets out to investigate the murder of a witness he was ordered to protect… and there’s a bunch of mystery and twists and turns and eventually he gets the job done… sort of. So, now that we got that out of the way, let’s chat about the legendary car chase where Steve McQueen drives a 1968 Ford Mustang GT as he hunts down two hit men in a 1968 Dodge Charger. Their dash through the streets of San Fran elevated the film to superstar status, at least for gearheads, but it has been preserved in the Library of Congress. Here… just watch.

If you’ve been under a rock for the past couple years it may come as a surprise that one of two original Bullitt Mustangs is headed for the January 2020 Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida. The story goes that after the movie wrapped the Mustang driven by McQueen during filming, with VIN ending 559, was sold by the studio to a detective on the East Coast. He later listed the vehicle for sale in 1974. It was purchased by Robert Kiernan for $6,000 and put to work as a family hauler. Steve McQueen even tried to buy it back in 1977, obviously to no avail. Kiernan held onto it until his death in 2014, passing it on to his son. It was not long after that the son, Sean, completed a restoration and revealed the family secret it to the world after some 40ish years.

In 2017 the second Bullitt Mustang, VIN ending 558, which was used for big jump scenes, was found in a wrecking yard in Baja, Mexico. The car had long been thought to have been crushed, as it heavily damaged during filming and sold for scrap. Apparently someone searching for a Mustang fastback to turn into a Gone in 60 Seconds Eleanor clone found the car. Before the build began workers at the shop completed an investigation of the VIN, finding it had some history and believing it to be the lost car from Bullitt. Amid much fanfare and skepticism, and a mariachi band, the vehicle was authenticated by iconic Mustang historian Kevin Marti in Mexicali. The car was then slated for restoration.

Bullitt Mustang ‘558 as found in Mexico

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