The Antiques Roadshow and the Keno Brothers have to be so jealous of one of the most significant finds in car history. McKeel Hagerty, CEO, Hagerty Insurance, and Mark Gessler the president of the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) found one of the coolest lost cars of our time; the Bullitt Mustang that was driven by Steve McQueen in the eponymous movie. The car was uncovered and registered in the National Historic Vehicle Register as Hagerty explained, “It started with a phone call from the owner, Sean Kiernan. Sean’s Dad, Bob, bought the car in 1974 out of a Road and Track classified ad for $6,000. It was their only car, and they drove the car around. I knew the car needed to be treated a certain way, registered in a certain way, so I called Mark Gesler and got the whole thing in motion.”
Gessler is just as genuinely happy as Hagerty is when describing the heritage of the original 1968 Mustang GT fastback that was used in the classic Warner Bros movie “Bullitt.” The story goes that Bob Kiernan bought the car, knowing full-well what the car was, and still drove the car around town like a regular old beater with a ferocious exhaust note. At one point Bob even had a company car, so his wife drove the car to the school where she taught. The car hasn’t been operated since 1980, but luckily, the Kiernans were smart enough not to restore the car. Gessler, Ford Motor Corp., and Sean Kiernan worked together to register the iconic muscle car on the Historic Vehicle Association, number 21, to authenticate the history of the sportscar.
After Steve McQueen offered, rather unceremoniously, to purchase the car, the family went underground with the car for about forty years. Life took a sad twist when Bob Kiernan finally had the time to work on the car, and he was stricken with the debilitating Parkinson’s disease. In 2014, Bob passed, and Sean became the owner of his Dad’s car, the car he and his Dad had driven around in when he was just a kid. What does the kid in the adult body do to honor his Dad? To keep his Father’s memories alive Sean brought the car back to life, creating the dream his Father always had of properly unveiling the car.
There are very few iconic cars that can wrap family, cars, celebrities, race car drivers, and movies all into one, but the Bullitt does just that. The Batmobile, the Aston Martin DB5. Now, the Kiernans have the added dilemma of the car being worth millions of dollars. What will the family do? Will they sell the car? Does Bill Ford want to buy the car? We don’t know, but we do know that Steve McQueen was upset that he didn’t get the car back. Right now the Kiernans are keeping the car. Gessler and Hagerty take us for a walk around the car.
Watch the last video as Gessler and Hagerty take us around the Bullit and show us some of the modifications Warner Brothers made to the vehicle so that the producers could make the movie even more exciting.