Thursday, March 29, 2018

Steve McQueen tried to buy the '68 Mustang from Bullitt – Twice!

By Telegraph Reporters 16 JANUARY 2018 • 12:26PM

Steve McQueen in Bullitt CREDIT: REX
It is one of the most famous cars in cinema history, up there with Michael Caine's Mini Cooper from The Italian Job and Michael J Fox's DeLorean from Back to the Future.

Steve McQueen may have had top billing in the 1968 thriller Bullitt, but the real star of the film was the green Ford Mustang GT fastbacks he drove in the movie's famous chase scene.

That Mustang was displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, alongside a letter from the actor himself which reveals his unsuccessful battle to buy the famous car.

In 1977, three years before his death at the age of 50, McQueen wrote to the car's owner Robert Kiernan, a New Jersey resident who had bought it for $6,000 in 1974, after seeing it advertised in a magazine.

McQueen had tried to buy the car from its previous owner, but it slipped through his grasp. His curt four-sentence letter to Kiernan begins "Again, I would like to appeal to you", suggesting it wasn't the first time the actor had been in touch.
In full, the letter reads:

Dear Mr Keirnan,

Again, I would like to appeal to you to get back my '68 Mustang. I would like very much to keep it in the family in its original condition as it was used in the film, rather than have it restored; which is simply personal with me.

I would be happy to try to find you another Mustang similar to the one you have, if there is not too much monies involved in it. Otherwise, we had better forget it.

With kindest regards, I remain

Very truly yours,

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen, with the Highland Green Ford Mustang CREDIT: REX 
Kiernan was evidently not won over by this approach: he never replied. Instead, he kept the car, which his schoolteacher wife used to drive to work. In 1980, the car's clutch broke, and for the next three decades it mouldered unused in a garage. He had attempted to repair the car with his son Sean, but died in 2014 with the work still incomplete.

Robert Kiernan and his family shied away from publicity, and over the years the car's ownership became the subject of rumour and uncertainty; Chad McQueen, the actor's son, last year launched a website called FindingBullitt.com calling for information about the whereabouts of the cars used in the film. The car has been described by Ford as the "holy grail" of Mustangs.

Now Sean Kiernan, working with Ford, has repaired the iconic car and put it back in the limelight once more, alongside the company's new third-generation Bullitt Edition Mustang.





"You know, it was never our intention to keep this car a secret from everybody," Kiernan said at a press conference for the Detroit auto show. "It just kind of happened with life. I’m just completely buzzing to join with Ford and the new Bullitt and show this car to the world on one of the biggest stages there is."

Classic car expert Kevin Marti has described it as "an incredible artifact", telling car insurers Hagerty that "98 per cent of the original car is there."

Remarkably, it is not the only Bullitt Mustang to have emerged in the last year. Kiernan's car was one of two Mustangs used in the film's climactic chase; the other, which bore the brunt of damage from the stunt scenes, was written off as scrap – but was rediscovered last year in a Mexican junkyard.

Italian Version of Bullit Movie Poster, just one item in our Steve McQueen Collection
Here at l’art et l’automobile we are avid movie buffs, especially when those movies feature Green 1968 Ford Mustang GTs or the venerable Steve McQueen. But even more so, we appreciate the fine art and nostalgic memorabilia these films create and celebrate. That’s why we make it a point to collect and curate Iconic Film Artifacts and deliver them to you, so that maybe you can add that perfect Steve McQueen Piece to your Collection. Here is our collection of Steve McQueen memorabilia, and please feel free to browse the gallery and take a piece home with you.

Here's to all our Green Mustangs (real or otherwise)

Jacques Vaucher
Owner and Curator
l'art et l'automobile