Steve McQueen’s ‘Bullitt’ Mustang sells for record $3.4 million on Mecum Auctions

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Late actor Steve McQueen would have been proud, very proud.

As televised live Friday on NBCSN, the 1968 Ford Mustang GT that was McQueen’s four-wheeled co-star in the iconic 1968 film “Bullitt” sold for a record $3.4 million at Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida.

The Highland Green two-door fetched a milestone price for a Mustang, far surpassing the previous record of $2.2 million for a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake, sold at last year’s Mecum Kissimmee auction.

“Movie and TV cars have always been worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for them,” McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty Price Guides for collectible cars, said in a media release. “But 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 reemerge as an unrestored, movie-car time capsule is something we’ll likely never see again in our lifetimes.”

MORE: Iconic Steve McQueen ‘Bullitt’ car may draw millions on NBCSN’s Mecum Auctions

In addition to the $3.4 million sale price, there were $300,000 in additional fees and a buyer’s premium, bringing the overall final price tag at $3.74 million, according to auction officials.

But the Bullitt Mustang still fell short of breaking the mark for the most expensive American muscle car ever sold. That honor is still held by a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda convertible that sold for $3.78 million in a Mecum Auction in 2014.

The now-former owner of the Mustang, Sean Kiernan, was happy the Mustang would be placed in a loving new home, just the fourth of its 51-year lifetime. The car had been in Kiernan’s family since 1974 when his late father Robert purchased the car for $6,000.

“This didn’t have anything to do with money,” Sean Kiernan said in a statement. “It had to do with breaking records and we did that.”

The identity of the Mustang’s new owner was not disclosed.

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April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994