The incredible story behind the Original Bullitt Mustang that few people know

The incredible story behind the Original Bullitt Mustang that few people know

In case you haven’t heard, the original Bullitt Mustang, from the movie “Bullitt,” just sold for a staggering $3.74M.

An anonymous bidder got a piece of Hollywood history on wheels.

The car’s name is the same from the classic 1968 film “Bullitt.” In the film, Det. Frank Bullitt, played by iconic actor Steve McQueen, drove the Mustang as he solves a murder mystery.


Known as a “Mona Lisa” car because it had long been thought of as lost to history, the Bullitt sat hidden in a garage for nearly 40 years. It’s recent rediscovery made headlines and car enthusiasts were thrilled.

McKeel Hagerty, CEO of the biggest classic car insurer in the world and founder of the Historic Vehicle Association, said, “The Bullitt Mustang has it all – a great chase scene, the McQueen connection, and a fantastic backstory. The fact that it had disappeared for decades, only to remmerge as an unrestored, movie-car time capsule is something we’ll likely never see again in our lifetimes.”

Original Bullitt Mustang

What lies within me is the real appeal of the car: the McQueen connection.

McQueen chose the car himself for the film, factoring in that is what a detective like Frank Bullitt with his pay-grade would have driven. What amazes people to this day is the Bullitt chase scene, which still is regarded as the greatest car chase scene in movie history. Steve McQueen drove himself some, which makes it all the more impressive.

A few years after the film was done, McQueen tried to buy the Mustang, but had no luck.

The original car that just sold has the luster that comes with age, and if we are honest, there isn’t much that stands out about it. It’s a stock 1967 Ford Mustang with a few modifications, which include aftermarket wheels and a blacked out grille with no Mustang Pony emblem.

What makes the car appealing is the man behind the wheel.

Steve McQueen still resonates with the public, and you still see his image on ads for TAG HEUER watches and Persol sunglasses.

Growing up in a broken family, his father abandoned him, while his mother was an alcoholic, Steve spent time going back and forth from his mom, to his uncle, his maternal grandparents and ultimately to a reform school.

He served a three years in the Marines and decided to try acting. As they famously say, the rest is history.

After the major success of his TV show, “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” McQueen starred in the classic Western, “The Magnificent Seven.” After that, his breakout role was in “The Great Escape” and then, the legendary “Bullitt,” which made him the #1 actor in the world.

Steve McQueen was the entire package: fashion icon, global superstar, motorcycle rider, race car driver and more. But there was something missing in his life left by an absent father, who McQueen tried to find in his adult life. Steve started into heavy drinking, drugs and womanizing on an epic scale.

Fed up with it all, he eventually left Hollywood and moved to Santa Paula, CA, an agricultural community where he bought a hanger for his growing collection of classic cars and motorcycles. Though he was given many of the prime roles of major successful movies of that era – “Apocalypse Now”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “Superman” to name a few – Steve simply lost interest. He even charged $50,000 to read a script.

Original Bullitt Mustang

One thing Steve always wanted to do was to learn to fly an airplane.

He bought a PT Stearman biplane for $35,000, but needed lessons. The only man who was qualified to teach him was Sammy Mason, a no-nonsense former test and acrobatic pilot, who was also a civilian trainer during World War II. A committed Christian, Mason lived his faith in a way that intrigued Steve. They had numerous conversations during their flying lessons, and Steve asked Mason if he could attend church with him. Their relationship ended up turning Steve into a Christian himself.

The #1 actor in the world became a follower of Jesus Christ.

This is so fascinating of a story that there is a book with McQueen biographer Marshall Terrill, titled, “Steve McQueen: The Salvation of An American Icon.” A documentary film came out afterwards, “Steve McQueen: American Icon.” The film has exclusive interviews with those that knew Steve best, including his widow, Barbara Minty McQueen, who personally tells the story of Steve’s conversion. The film also has never heard before audio recordings of McQueen talking about his faith on his deathbed.

Steve did not to be found on the soundstage of a Hollywood movie set, but rather on the balcony of a church in Ventura, CA.

Steve was ready to learn the Bible and went every Sunday with family and friends in tow. He even asked the pastor if he could serve as an usher in church.

Unfortunately, McQueen learned he had cancer about six months after his conversion to Christ and eventually died in a clinic in Juarez, Mexico after doctors in the United States gave him no hope for survival. But Steve McQueen died with faith in God and a Bible given to him by evangelist Billy Graham tightly clutched in his hand.

The icon finally found the father he was looking for — in God.


Near the end of his life, Steve McQueen said, “My only regret in life is that I was not able to tell people about what Christ did for me.”

I’m happy that 40 years after his death — around the same amount of time his Bullitt was hidden in a garage — Steve McQueen finally was able to tell people what Christ did for him.


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