The rarer, the more expensive? Is not true for all car classics. The first Ford Mustang was built between 1964 to 1968 almost 2.1 million times, is considered a cult among U.S. Sports cars and has therefore been restored and preserved many thousands of times. But when a cool story is added, even such a mass-produced car can make millions.
More precisely: 3.3 million US dollars. That's how much an unknown bidder paid last week for the green 1968 production Mustang in which U.S. Acting legend Steve McQueen (1930-1980) raced through San Francisco (USA) in the movie "Bullitt". Not bad for a car that for 40 years no one believed existed at all.
Mustang with movie fame
The story was solidly average for a 1960s police thriller. Nevertheless, "Bullitt" from 1968 is still considered a classic today – because of the leading actor Steve McQueen as Lieutenant Frank Bullitt and the legendary car chase, in which Bullitt at the wheel of this very Ford Mustang Fastback escapes mafia hitmen in a Dodge Charger and then turns the tables and chases them himself. Today the special effects look tired, but back then they were a sensation.
Mcqueen – nicknamed "King of Cool" – was a car maniac; all action scenes in "Bullitt" were shot on closed-off public roads. In the lead role: two identical Ford Mustang GT Fastbacks. One served as a so-called jump car for the stunts and was tuned: new manual transmission, 6.4-liter V8, reinforced clutch and more robust chassis. Car's chance of survival: minimal. In the other, the so-called Hero Car, the close-ups were shot with McQueen at the wheel. Both copies disappeared without a trace after filming.
From stunt cars to family cars
The Hero Car had been in the Kiernan family garage since 1974. Son Sean Kiernan, 40, makes it public in 2018, saying his father bought the car from a private investigator and used it as the family car. "Mom drove in the 'Bullitt' Mustang to St.-Vincent parish, where she taught elementary school kids. It must have seemed very cool," says Kiernan. The family went on trips even though there was a hole in the trunk floor as an outlet for the fog machine and the seat belts for the back seat had been hidden under tape. In 1977, Steve McQueen called to buy his movie car – Kiernan's father said no. Now the son has nevertheless parted with the car for 3.3 million US dollars.
Surprisingly: in 2017, the Jump Car also reappeared – despite all expectations – in Mexico. And Steve McQueen? In 1971, McQueen made "Le Mans," a motor sports film that was as ambitious as it was gloriously unsuccessful with the public. But that is another story.