There has been a lot of “Bullitt” engine-revving around the fastback’s 50th anniversary on Oct. 17. The hard-knuckled 1968 film centers on San Francisco PD Lt. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) who was tasked with protecting a Chicago mobster who was about to sing his guts out. It is a gear-jamming 48-hour weekend of chasing the hitmen.
Good-guy McQueen drove a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback. The bad guys drove a 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum. The famous car chase lasted just 10 minutes and 53 seconds, but it lives in infamy.
Two identical 1968 Mustang GT fastbacks were used in the Warner Bros. movie. After filming, the cars went their separate ways: the hero vehicle driven by McQueen in the movie was sold by Warner Bros. to a private buyer, and the other — used in many of the jumps during the famous chase scene — was sent to a salvage yard. The jumper car resurfaced in Baja California in early 2017, but the other was lost to history. Until this year.
Sean Kiernan, owner of the hero vehicle, inherited the car in 2014 from his late father, Robert, who had purchased the Mustang in 1974. To fulfill his family’s lifelong dream, Sean contacted Ford and the two parties worked together to reveal his movie star car alongside the new 2019 Mustang Bullitt at last year’s Detroit auto show.
“You know, it was never our intention to keep this car a secret from everybody,” Kiernan said in a release. “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.”
Kiernan has followed through on his commitment to show the car and will display it — in its barn-find condition — at SEMA until Nov. 3. After the big aftermarket trade show, the car will be trailered to San Diego where it will be on display at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, in Balboa Park, from Nov. 4-19. Find it in the museum’s special display space, “SPEED: Science in Motion.”
But before being loaded into the museum, the famous Mustang will make a KUSI-TV appearance next Sunday morning.
The museum also will have a special VIP reception with Kiernan and the Bullitt on Nov. 15.
The San Diego Air & Space Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (last admission at 4:30 p.m.), at 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park. Museum admission is $19.75, plus $5 for the “SPEED” exhibit.
BULLITT50 Chronograph raffle
If you already are a “Bullitt” aficionado citing movie quotes and specs about the cars and stars, then this charitable raffle might be worth a ticket or 10.
Robert E. Kiernan Jr., owner of the original and recently re-discovered 1968 Bullitt Mustang, succumbed to Parkinson’s in 2014. In his honor, Drive Toward a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease has arranged a special tribute, with the support of Ford Motor Co., Warner Bros Studios and Chad McQueen.
For the fundraiser, BRM Chronographe and automotive artist Nicolas Hunziker have created a “one-of-one” hand-painted chronograph watch — valued at more than $35,000.
The watch, which includes a 1-gram paint chip from the car, will benefit Parkinson’s disease through the one-time raffle. Drive Toward a Cure will donate all raffle proceeds to the Michael J. Fox Foundation in his name.
Raffle tickets are $25 each and can be purchased as a direct donation to Drive Toward a Cure online at drivetowardacure.org. Just 1,968 tickets will be sold.
Robert’s son and current Bullitt caretaker Sean Kiernan will announce the winner of the BULLITT50 Chronograph at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, Calif., on Jan. 27, 2019. The Highland Green Mustang, still with barn-find patina, also will be on view.