A major highlight in my Bullitt enthusiast lifestyle was to witness the sale of one of the actual Mustangs used in the filming of the movie. This car was driven by Steve McQueen for much of the chase scene. After being sold to private owners, it landed with Robert Kiernan of NJ, used as a family car between 1974 and 1980. Robbie, Bob's wife, had quite one of the possibly coolest teacher's car as she used it for daily transportation to the school where she taught. The car was retired from daily driver duty in 1980 after some mechanical problems sidelined it. The general public didn't know much about the car's location or disposition until 2018, the 50th anniversary year of the release of "Bullitt."
Sean, Bob's son, honored his father's legacy by getting the car in working order for the introduction of the 2019 Mustang Bullitt in January, 2018. The first public reveal led to an 18-month journey to car shows and events all over the US and even to England. This car has a mythical status now, and Sean decided to sell it in the best interest of his family and open a new chapter in this car's history.
The Mustang sold for $3,400,000 US at the Mecum Auction held in Kissimmee, FL, USA, on Friday, January 10, 2020. During its time in the public eye, many Mustang Bullitt owners traveled to see the car that was the direct inspiration for their 2001, 2008, 2009, 2019, and now 2020 Ford special edition cars. They gathered at the auction to witness the sale of this movie car, only the third time it changed owners in its over 51 year history. It's safe to say that seeing the dream car being sold in such a public manner is a lot like seeing a family member move away from home. This dream car led to the 3 generations of special edition cars that have been enjoyed by their owners for the past 19 years. Sean Kiernan and his family have shared this historic vehicle with many during the car's travels. However, those of us who own a Mustang Bullitt feel a close kindredship with the Kiernan family. Money aside, the real value in this event was to connect with each other in person and virtually to celebrate the continued legacy of Bullitt.
For this, I am grateful to have experienced yet another story that adds to Mustang Bullitt - Generations.
Since the 2001 Mustang Bullitt came to market, a hotly debated topic that still goes on today is regarding the choice of colors other than green. While it is true that Team Mustang wanted to produce all units in dark highland green, there was debate internal to Ford Motor Company well before the car was ready for production. The concern from marketing and dealers was that a low volume car in a single color would limit sales. As history has shown, there probably is some truth to that!
I've talked to owners of black and true blue 2001s, black 2008/09s, and black 2019s, and they've all said they wanted their Bullitt in the chosen hues. I've also talked to the owner of the ONLY 2019 Bullitt in Kona blue, and he appreciates the car's appearance with it.
Someone in a Bullitt online group remarked that Steve McQueen was turning over in his grave because of non-green Mustang Bullitts. I say he would likely appreciate there are enthusiastic owners of a car done in tribute to the original one he drove, even if it's a Bullitt of another color.
The next time you see an owner of a non-green car, thank them for being part of the tribe!
Car enthusiasts and collectors love numbers! Every production Bullitt Mustang in every generation has a unique sequential number which is assigned when the vehicle was in the final assembly process. Ford's production scheduling processes don't necessarily guarantee that the last digits of the car's VIN match the serial number, so it's a treasure hunt to see what serial number and VIN combination an owner has. The numbers for the 2001 model year cars started at '0001' and ended with '5582' - EXCEPT - for 4 special Bullitt Mustangs. These 4 vehicles were designated to go to Steve McQueen's family, only fitting since his movie character's 1968 fastback was the inspiration for the 2001 feature car. They were given even more unique numbers in the form of 'McQueen 01,' McQueen 02', 'McQueen 03,', and 'McQueen 04'.
One of those 4 cars currently sits in an owner's garage. He is not related to the McQueen family. The owner is a careful caretaker of the vehicle, since it has around 1800 miles on it. I recently got to see McQueen 04 in person. It's a sensational piece of Bullitt Mustang history that has not been modified from the factory configuration. It's a bit of a surreal experience to be near McQueen 04, so I took in every moment as if I had ascended the mountain to a higher state of enlightenment!
All Bullitt Mustangs are special, and some are even more special because of their stories and connections to the "Bullitt" universe.
...but I am Mustang Bullitt crazy! Having returned from the 2019 Bullitt Nationals held in Carlisle, PA, USA, in conjunction with the Ford Nationals at Carlisle, I can safely say I am in good company. Seventy vehicles of all 3 generations of feature cars, plus several 1968 Mustang fastback movie tributes, were parked on the show field on Saturday, June 1. At the evening cookout, I told many of the participants that a book on all 3 generations was coming in a year's time. I've got a lot of work to do, but I've got a lot of passion for the subject matter. Over the coming months, I'll be sharing the journey to get what I hope will be a reasonable accounting of the many stories and photos that demonstrate that passion.
For now, even though I am not a writer by trade, I can guarantee you that I will give a high effort, and I look forward to you, dear reader, participating with your stories and photos! In the near future, I will welcome your contributions for possible inclusion in parts of the book that cover the enthusiast reaction to each generation of Bullitt Mustang. Those of you who own 1968 tribute cars to the original "Bullitt" movie vehicle are invited to share also. Regardless of your home country, and whether or not you might be a writer, you've got a passion that some understand and some don't. I want this book to reflect the history of the evolution of the 2001, 2008/09, and 2019/20 vehicles and the response that each evokes in us.
Thank you for your interest and let's get writing!
about the Author
I am Tony Alonso, a long-time Ford Mustang enthusiast who owns a 2001, 2009, and 2019 Bullitt Mustang. Desperately seeking a 1968 Mustang fastback in Highland Green with no ornamentation and a fantastic exhaust sound...