“Bullitt” Mustang Hammers Sold for $3.4 Million!!

AT 2:26 pm EST on Friday January 10, 2020, the famed 1968 Ford “Bullitt” Mustang, the so-called hero car driven by actor Steve McQueen in the movie Bullitt, was driven (not pushed) onto the auction block at the Mecum Kissimmee (FL) auction. After the briefest of speeches by the owner, who opined that the bidding should open at $3,500 (the 1970’s transaction price), the auctioneer quickly had a floor bid of $500,000.

In a matter of moments, bidding jumped in ONE-HALF MILLION DOLLAR increments to $2.5 million. The next bid was “only” a hundred grand richer, and bidding seemed to stall there at $2.6 million. But with a car like this, Mecum was in no rush to conclude the proceedings. (Most cars at a Mecum auction spend between 1 and 2 minutes on the block.) The crowd was poked and prodded, and poked and prodded some more. Moving in $100,000 increments now, the bidding climbed through $2.8M, past $3M, and again slowed at $3.3 million.

It seemed as though it might be done, but like a sprinter getting his second wind, the auctioneer accepted a bid of $3.35 million, and then $3.4 million. He lingered at $3.4M, asking, begging, pleading for a bid of $3.5 million. It was not to be. AT 2:38 pm, TWELVE MINUTES after the car came to a stop in front of the podium, it was over. The Bullitt Mustang hammered sold for $3,400,000. Wow.

The poll which was run on this blog the other day resulted in a tie, with 42% of you predicting a bid of $1 million tops, and the same percentage predicting $3 million (ironically, Dana Mecum’s prediction). The sale price greatly exceeded my own personal guess of $2.5 million. I guess Mr. McQueen still has significant drawing power, even 40 years after his demise. Let’s hope that contrary to the way this Mustang was hidden for the last 45 years, the new owner sees fit to show and use the car so that we may all partake in its enjoyment.

Congratulations to the new owner.

The 1968 “Bullitt” Mustang will be sold by Mecum Auctions this Friday!

Richard’s Car Blog is expanding! Starting with this week’s post about the Bullitt Mustang, we will semi-regularly feature a midweek story related to an automotive current event. Let me know what you think!

 

Lots of movies feature chase scenes: The French Connection, The Blues Brothers, Ronin, and The Italian Job, not to mention the entire Fast & Furious franchise. Ask people of a certain age, though, to name their favorite celluloid car chase, and one movie consistently comes to the top of the list: Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen, released in 1968.

The car-crazed kid I was, I asked my dad to take me to see it, and what an impression it made. At 14, I was still 3 years away from possessing a driver’s license, and I left that theater wanting a Mustang fastback just like the one Lieutenant Frank Bullitt drove (and I’ll admit that the black Charger wasn’t an unworthy lust object either).

McQueen, the King of Cool, did some (but not all) of his own stunt driving in the movie. Since his passing in 1980, any object with his name attached to it has garnered collector interest. Of course, the Bullitt Mustang would rise to the top of that desirability list, except, for decades, no one seemed to know where it was.

The details are available all over the internet: the so-called hero car (there was a 2nd, and some even say a 3rd, Mustang used for shooting) which is in all the exterior chase shots has been located. The car has been owned by the same family since 1974, and that family has decided to sell it, choosing Mecum Auctions as its selling venue. It will cross the block at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction this Friday, January 10th, sometime midday, and it’s being sold at no reserve. Highest bidder gets it, no matter.

Here’s the question: what will the car sell for? According to an article in the New York Times, Dana Mecum, founder of his namesake business, is estimating “at least $3 million”. McKeel Hagerty, head of his insurance company which also tracks classic car values, is predicting “closer to $4 million”.

What’s your guess? Before I provide mine, it may be worth noting that Mr. McQueen has been gone for 40 years. I earlier said that it’s “people of a certain age” who will remember the movie, and some of that generation have passed on also. I recently spoke with a reporter about the collector car auction scene, and he, an admitted Millennial, said to me “I really don’t know who Steve McQueen was”. On the other hand, unlike a car with simple celebrity ownership, this hero Mustang is immortalized in film which can be rented, streamed, purchased, or just watched on YouTube.

My guess? I do believe the car will break into the 7-figure range, but will not reach as high as Dana is predicting. A Baby Boomer with deep pockets will step up and pay $2.5 million for it. By Friday afternoon, we’ll all know.

Let’s have some fun with this: take the poll and vote for the choice you think will come closest.