How do put a value on a car that’s more than a car? With the recent unveiling of the 1968 Mustang fastback driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt, the conversation quickly moves to how much it’s worth. Sorry, we don’t have a final answer here. The wild cards of a long-lost car found combined with the McQueen connection makes the value hard to determine. We do, however, have enough information to help you make your own guess.
First, there’s the McQueen factor. The car world’s love for McQueen is almost as legendary as the actor’s philandering. Exhibit A is the 1970 Porsche 911 S used in the movie Le Mans and sold at RM Sotheby’s 2011 Monterey auction. The car went for $1,375,000, or 19 times the Hagerty Price Guide’s #1 value at the time. Another example is the 1968 Ford GT40—another car with a Le Mans connection—from RM Monterey in 2012 that blew past expectations and sold for $11 million, well over the $3.5 million HPG‘s #1 rating.
It’s not just movie cars, though. Everything from McQueen’s Ferrari 250 to several of his old motorcycles have sold for high multiples of what they’d get at auction without a connection to the actor.
Then there’s the story of how the car finally resurfaced. But the legend of the Bullitt movie, combined with the fact that car’s been unknown for so long, makes it hard to quantify how much anyone would pay the for car. There is only one other Bullitt-related Mustang in existence, a stunt car that was found rotting in a Mexico junkyard without a powertrain. Sean Kiernan’s car, on the other hand, was used for the close-ups of McQueen driving and—age-related decay aside—is intact and in running condition.
In relative, rational terms, there is some context to help determine the Bullitt Mustang’s value. In terms of most-expensive Mustangs, that list is topped by a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake that went for $1,378,000 in 2013, followed by the 1967 “Eleanor” coupe from the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds at $1,060,000.
The most expensive American car ever sold at auction, the first-ever Shelby Cobra, went for $13.75 million in 2016. McQueen’s GT40 is second on that all-time list, followed by a Duesenberg and more Cobras and GT40s. Eleventh on the list? That’s the George Barris Batmobile, which sold for $4,620,000. Our own Jonathan Klinger, Hagerty Vice President of Public Relations, still regrets the interview in which he predicted the Batmobile would sell for a few hundred thousand dollars.
The Batmobile is, perhaps, the best argument that the Bullitt could blow away any other Mustang hammer price. Or to put it another way, if you had the the money, how much would you pay to own your childhood dream? Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty says he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bullitt car in the same $4-million range as the James Bond Aston Martin DB5.
Of course, this is all speculation. The Mustang’s owner hasn’t given any indication that he intends to sell the car any time soon, let alone at public auction, where we could all see what it’s worth. So while we try to determine the value of the Bullitt Mustang, what we’re really asking is: Just how much gold does Kiernan have in his garage?