“I don’t want to do this ... twice.”
So says Sean Kiernan, owner of the 1968 Ford Bullitt Mustang that could become the most expensive Mustang ever sold when it hits the auction block in January.
Kiernan is referring to the grueling and delicate process of selling such a well-known car, the one his dad, Robert, bought in 1974 and used as a family car until 1980. Kiernan the elder passed away in 2014; Kiernan the younger kept the car sitting in the family garage until confirming its presence publicly last year.
Famed as the hero car in arguably the greatest car chase scene in film history — Steve McQueen raced it for 10 minutes through the streets of San Francisco in the 1968 thriller Bullitt — the unrestored Mustang fastback in Highland Green will go on sale at no reserve in the Mecum auction on Jan. 10 in Kissimmee, Fla.
The move to hold a no-reserve sale is highly unusual for such a car, which is expected to take as much as $5 million. Typically cars of that caliber are offered with a minimum amount the owner would like to receive for them, or take them back home. But the prospect of having to renegotiate everything for a second sale seemed too daunting to consider for Kiernan, whatever the price.
“I knew with ‘no reserve’ we would scare a lot of people by doing that,” Kiernan says. “But ‘all in’ is what my dad would do, and we always hated watching auctions where there are reserves. The excitement is still there, but in the back of your head you’re thinking you might have to do it all over again. I’m not doing this again.”