Bullitt starring Steve McQueen features one of the greatest chase scenes in movie history, so you’d think the movie’s iconic Ford Mustang would be in a museum somewhere. But in reality, the car went missing for many years. But there’s a crazy story about how it was found.
The Bullitt Mustang was originally sold all the way back in 1974 by a man named Bob Kiernan. The car was in an ad from Road and Track magazine. At the time, movie cars and props weren’t as high demand as they are today, and Kiernan bought the car more for how it handled than the fact that it appeared in a movie.
The car started having engine problems in 1980, and the Kiernan family decided to keep it parked in their garage. They also kept the car a secret to one day unveil the car to the press after renovating it. But before that could happen, Kiernan passed away in 2014. His son, Sean, ended up inherited the car.
Sean worked at an automotive paint and supply business in Nashville when his boss began asking about the cars he inherited from his father. When Kiernan described his green Mustang, his boss replied that sounded like the car from Bullitt.
It turns out Kiernan’s boss, Casey Wallace, ran a side business as an independent film studio, and was working on a movie about two teenagers who find the Bullitt Mustang in a barn and buy it from the unknowing owner. They end up getting chased by bad guys who want to separate it from him.
Wallace wanted to know if Kiernan’s Mustang could possibly look close enough to the actual Bullitt Mustang that hey could use it in the movie. Kiernan told him that it wasn’t just close, but the exact one.
Kiernan and Wallace eventually reached out to Ford to create an agreement for unveiling the Bullitt Mustang to the world, which they did at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
And if Kiernan’s boss had never made that movie, it would still probably be sitting in that garage today.