In 1977, Steve McQueen tried one final time to buy his Mustang sidekick in 1977. He typed up a letter and fired it off to the car’s then owner who lived in New Jersey. The letter was brief, only four sentences long, and and got straight to the point. McQueen wanted the Bullitt Mustang back, and through his impatience and insistence, that never actually happened. The current owner wasn’t going for it, and the exchange of money and car was never made.
Almost four-decades after Steve McQueen sent his final plea to the owner of Bullitt Mustang, two automotive paint salesmen working for LKQ, Sean Kiernan the local manager, and his boss, Casey Wallace who was the regional manager struck up a conversation about cars. On the way back from a sales call, Kiernan, a car guy, shared details of his old car collection with Wallace to save time. When Sean told Casey about a ratty 1968 GT390 he inherited from him dad who died a year before, Wallace asked about the color, and when Keirnan revealed it was green, and it was remarked that it sounded like the Bullitt Mustang.
This was back in 2015, and not many people knew what had become of the original Bullitt. Something clicked with Kiernan when Wallace mentioned the movie car, and he had it on the brain after that. Wallace shared more details about the rumors that have come out of the woodwork over the years about the car.
As it turns out, the mentioned letter was written to his dad, Robert Keirnan Jr., who happened to be the third owner of the car. The Hartford Insurance Executive was in love with his car, and never considered McQueen’s offer to buy it. After a few moves by the family and the car, they were reunited with it in Nashville, TN. In 2001, Bob retired and he had planned on restoring the car with his son. Life got in the way, and Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Sean also moved on with his life, starting his own family, and the Mustang had sat in pieces since. When Bob died, his son was unsure what to do with the car.
Sean decided it was time to reassemble the car, and bring it out of hiding. He contacted Ford about two years as the 50th Anniversary of the movie neared. But it was at the 2018 North American International Auto Show when the car officially came out of hiding, and the world got to look at the car that slid through the cracks all these years. This is a ‘barn find’ of the century!
Shawn Henry is a Texas native who has spent the majority of his career building and selling F-Bodies and Corvettes. Now studying journalism, he is taking a new direction with his love of performance vehicles.