UPDATE: Most Expensive Muscle Car Ever! 1968 Ford “Bullitt” Mustang

This car really needs no introduction. For those of you who haven’t seen the famous 1968 movie Bullitt, the title character, played by Steve McQueen, drives this Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT throughout the movie. Some would argue the 10-minute car chase featuring McQueen’s Mustang and a black Dodge Charger is the most iconic movie car chase ever. There were two cars used to film the chase sequence, VIN ending in 558 for the jumps and 559 for close-ups. Designated by filmmakers as the “Hero Car,” this car was used for the majority of the chase scenes and has been in private hands since filming wrapped. It has fully-documented provenance detailing its ownership and has been analyzed by the experts at Hagerty who “…moved the car to our HVA National Lab in Allentown, Pennsylvania so that every aspect of the 559 Mustang could be exhaustively photographed and the body 3-D scanned.” The car is now one of only 26 vehicles on the National Historic Vehicle Register. Owned by one family since 1974, it was re-introduced to the public at the Detroit Auto Show in 2018. In April of that year, the car was exhibited in the HVA’s glass display box on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as a tribute to McQueen. The car is now being offered for sale with no reserve at the January 2020 Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida where it could go down in the record books as the highest-priced American muscle car ever sold at auction! UPDATE: After a very dramatic entrance under dimmed lights and with a massive crowd around it, bidding quickly shot up past $1M dollars. A few seconds later, it passed $2M. Bidding continued to be steady up to $2.9M and was increasing by $50K increments. There appeared to be at least a few phone and internet bidders. The number continued to climb and stalled when a phone bidder bid $3.4M. After a few minutes, the gavel dropped and (with the 10% buyer’s premium) the bidder paid $3,740,000! A new muscle/pony car world record! If you want to see the action for yourself, you can watch it here on YouTube.

The car has been modified for filming and it still retains most of those modifications today. There are metal tubes welded under the rockers for camera mounts along with holes cut into the trunk to allow cords to run from the generator to the cameras and lights. After filming wrapped, the car was sold to Warner Brothers employee who used it as a commuter for a short time. It then passed through the hands of a New Jersey Detective and eventually to the current owner’s family in 1974. The purchase price back then? Six thousand dollars! Even Steve McQueen himself tried to purchase the car and was turned down. You can read more about the history of the car and check out more photos here on Mecum’s website and here on Hagerty.com.

Mecum president and founder Dana Mecum says he expects the car to surpass the American muscle car auction record that was set at their 2014 Seattle event where a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible sold for $3.5M! As for the other Mustang used for filming, we featured (what is believed to be) it here on Barn Finds in 2017 where it was found in Mexico after being wrecked during filming. So, how high will the bidding go on this car? There are skeptics who think it won’t even pass the current Mustang auction record of $2.2M. There’s also speculation that someone like Jay Leno or the Petersen Automotive Museum may purchase it. What do you think? Is this the most valuable muscle car ever?

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Comments

  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Got to laugh,you ask how much the car will sell for, and you say it is sold already. I saw the auction today. The seller said it was sold 2 times. both at $ 3500 bucks. Not at 6 K. The seller said to start the bidding at $3500 bucks. First bid was $1,000,000.

    13
    • Fred W

      I also balked at the $6000 price. In 1974, there was no way you could sell a fastback for that, $3500 is about right.

      7
    • triumph1954

      Not sure where $6000 statement comes from. Bidding started at $3500 because that is what family that owned car had bought it for in 1974.

      4
  2. Steve R

    That is the sort of money that changes your life. Good for them.

    Steve R

    9
  3. irocrobb

    That buyers premium would really hurt….

    2
    • RayT Member

      I don’t imagine it would hurt the actual buyer. Compared to the hammer price, it’s chump change.

      Glad to see such a historic Mustang preserved, but I’d be just as happy with a replica. At least I could drive it. Everybody has their own ideas of what to do with cars….

      7
  4. Darrell Dirr

    Equals about 40, 2020, 700 HP Shelby’s LOL

    8
  5. RoughDiamond Member

    So happy for the family who preserved the ’68 “Bullitt” Mustang GT since ’74. I believe McQueen’s son also made a request to purchase the car.

    5
  6. robert gressard

    At the end of bidding I heard someone say Frank bought it. I wonder if that is Frank Mecum?

    1
    • TVC15

      Frank Bullitt

  7. Dex

    The car sold for $3.4 million. That’s it. You don’t add the Buyer’s fee / commission to the sales price. The 10% paid to the auction company for their service is not the actual sales price, just as the Seller paid 10% and didn’t receive $3.4M. If you want to add that fee, maybe you should also include what the Buyer will pay in vehicle taxes, Buyer’s fee paid to register for auction, Buyer’s travel and lodging to auction, etc. When that is added to sales price it shows auto auction ignorance.

    7
    • ace10

      That’s not true. At all. The vig is absolutely part of the transaction. It cannot be avoided. No matter who is buying it or where they are located or what they intend to do with the vehicle.

      11
    • triumph1954

      Sold for 3.74 million ,including 10% buyers fee.

      10
    • triumph195455

      Dex- Auto auction ignorance? WOW!

      3
      • Dex

        triumph195455 – Correct!

        4
    • Thomas

      Seller paid 5% since it was no reserve. It’s 10% sellers premium with reserve. That’s why you will see negotiations on the block with Mecum and the sellers that have a reserve.

      3
      • RH

        Typically that is correct, but only if you know that is what was agreed upon. Unless you know for sure, you’re just assuming the seller paid 5%. Anyone that has bought and sold through these auctions know the fees are always negotiable, both before and during the auction process.

        2
  8. Steve

    If you watch the movie carefully five hubcaps come off the Charger that is chasing Bullitt!

    8
    • ken tillyUK

      Actually, it was Bullitt that was chasing the Charger if memory serves me correctly.

      4
      • Lance

        ken, It was the Charger chasing the Mustang and then the Mustang chasing the Charger.

        5
      • ken tillyUK

        @lance. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • Troy s

      Car on car the Charger could run away from the green 390 Mustang all day long. Bill Hickman once said he had to slow down during the filming to allow the Mustang to catch up, I believe it. Those annoying hubcaps…that Charger needed a set of mags!

      6
    • Bob S

      And probably all 5 are from the same side of the car 😂

      7
      • Classic Steel

        My favorite in filming is going down the San Fran street and seeing the same VW in the each section of the cut extending the length of the street.

        I wonder if millennials were
        polled electronically / quizzed Would they know who 🤔was the actor or even the film name 🤔

        8
  9. BR

    I liked “Eleanor” better, and as far as car chase flicks go you would be hard pressed to beat the Seven-Ups chase. But then it wasn’t a Mustang or McQueen.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vACWV5sRcY

    3
    • On and On On and On Member

      Hmmm, same driver of bad guys car and lots of copycat moves and scenes.

      4
      • BR

        Copycat moves? Hahahaha. You are pretty limited to what you can do with cars. Chase, crash – wash, rinse, repeat. Seven Ups was in Brooklyn, Bullitt was in SF. And yeah, actors get around.

        1
      • On and On On and On Member

        French Connection chase was different. Very suspenseful. My opinion. The shot-gun from the back seat was too similar to Bullitt in my opinion.

        2
      • DayDreamBeliever Member

        Hmmm I don’t think that a hood could be blown off of a car with a shotgun, but the public probably liked the stunt!

    • triumph1954

      Classic Steel. That was your favorite part of the movie? And if you were a Millennials age would you know about a fifty some year old movie and its actors and cars? I saw this movie in theater when it first came and during chase seen you could feel it in your stomach. Great movie in the day regardless of the nitpicking, just like Thunder Road before it!

      • Classic Steel

        Glad you liked it… I had a copy on VHS and upgraded to Blue Ray when it came out in that new format. Yes, I liked the filming as it was an interest and undergraduate job with production type jobs and TV production back in the day. I gave that up as the money was too cheap to support my wants and I went into IT to afford more toys.
        The background on Director Peter Yates, the film stars detective Frank Bullitt played by Steve McQueen did many of his own stunt driving in the iconic car chased featuring a Ford Mustang 390 GT and Dodge Charger R/T 400. Before Bullitt, car chases in movies were unrealistic as they were done for comic effect in films like 1963’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The difference as most know was the stunt driving was all done for real at 110 mph in San Fran prior to future films putting safety requirements in place. This plus shooting from both sides with dual cameras allowed film tricks and extensions of scenes. Then the camera grips on the back of the mustang added cool visuals too.
        It was a great movie to see but to me it’s just as a classic movie for fun. Watching a movie is great but nothing beats driving and speed shifting in your own self built car. In my youth building up a 327 old corvette engine with forged pistons double pumper four barrel in a 55 Chevrolet tied to a four speed to a 12 bolt rear end with headers that uncapped and raced in the country on weekends against the locals. Hence the basic jobs and knowledge of doing my own work swallowed up my paychecks. Then selling the 55 to build up a 69 Z28 built up that did the opposite of the first car for a quarter mile but would top 130 plus on open roads. But again that like most youth acting stupid thinking you will live forever taking risks for fun. While I never drove a 390 fastback I did get to run around with young GI’s at a base near my folk’s place that were my age and remembers beating around in a 68 Shelby 428 pushing it through its paces lighting up the tires in each gears. Those were the days of youth to me.

        5
  10. Tucker Callan

    You can see a couple things. (Kevin`s word is SOLID GOLD!) NO,,,, not the black out rocker moldings, tail lite panel, or even the Non-Cougar rear valence. Just for fun,,, can anyone else see what I see?

    1
  11. Snotty

    Dark Highland Green, works for the bullitt. I had a 69 Galaxie 500 Sports Roof in the same dark green, with the 429 4bbl. auto and it was fast and a whole lotta fun.

    2
  12. Eric

    The owner was given a 2018 Bullitt from Ford, #2 car off the line and he also just landed a nice chunk of change. He can build a nice 68 Bullitt clone if he’d like and he’s all set for life.

    Anyone have any knowledge as to why this doesn’t have it’s chrome rocker trim painted green and also the unique round painted side mirror mounted lower than the stock location?

    Also, I wish barrett jackson had the car. What a bore and you couldn’t even see the car! BJ would’ve presented this a million times better.

    1
  13. Arthell64 Member

    If I wasn’t short 3.4 million I would have bought it.

    2
    • Jeffro

      Yeah…. after digging through the couch cushions, I could only come up with $3.40. I hate being average some times

      7
  14. Mike

    I wonder if it was worth it for the deceased owner to hang onto it to the bitter end and do nothing with it for all that time.

    5
    • Chris M.

      Maybe he had a vision that it would benefit his children? I agree, if Steve McQueen asked me if it was for sale I may let it go!

      2
  15. KSwheatfarmer Member

    Hay Snotty, your car sounds a lot like my 69 LTD formal roof,429 4-speed,bench seat.Often wonder how my friends and I survived that one, it was a top end terror for sure. Friend of mine was at the Bullet auction,haven’t talked with him yet.

    4
  16. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Any thing Steve owned or touched has brought big bucks at auction – so I’m not surprised. Not found of the owners turning Steve down….

  17. Robert White

    The guy paid $3,750 million USD for a 68 Ford Mustang. I would have convinced him he is retarded for much less than that.

    Bob

    2
    • RTS

      Watch the replay. Slow it down if you have to. Buyer paid $3.4M for the car.

      1
      • Steve R

        They aren’t arguing about the amount of the closing bid, they are arguing whether or not the buyers premium should be considered into the “price” of the car.

        Steve R

        2
    • Superdessucke

      I think it’s reasonably safe to assume that the price paid had less to do with it being a 1968 Mustang and more to do with its provence as the star car of the film Bullitt. It’s more like an art piece than a car, if that makes sense.

      FWIW, the surviving Bullitt Charger was being advertised at $1 million about 6-7 years ago. Seems like a bargain by comparison!

      3
      • On and On On and On Member

        Makes total sense Superdess. My question now is, how much will this car appreciate in the future.

      • Superdessucke

        That’ll be interesting. I’m not sure how well-known or popular Bullitt is to Millennials and Gen Z. But it is an icon. I don’t feel as confident about muscle cars in general but this might be one where there is always going to be a strong demand to have The Bullitt Mustang.

        The big question is whether that will be worth today’s equivalent of more than $3.4 million to somebody. There are a lot of very very rich people to whom 3.4 million would be like $34,000 to us, or less.

  18. Robert

    Now what? Preservation? Restoration? Or leave it as is?

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