Steve McQueen Bullitt 1968 Mustang GT

Lost Steve McQueen Bullitt Car found in a scrapyard in Mexico

(Photo credit: Ralph Garcia Jr.)

Ever drop something and not see where it fell, only to find it in a place where you’d wonder how it got there?

That’s kind of what happened with the 1968 Mustang GT that Steve McQueen drove in the film, Bullitt. The car somehow disappeared shortly after filming was even completed and hasn’t been seen since. McQueen tried in vain to find the car and buy it for his private collection.

Now the car has apparently been found, in a scrapyard in Mexicali, Mexico. The LA Times reported last week that a pair of Los Angeles car restorers–one of whom has made a career building replicas of the “Eleanor” Mustang from the Nicolas Cage movie, Gone in 60 Seconds–discovered the car and have restored it once they realized what they had.

Of course, skepticism abound at the discovery. Long lost Hollywood memorabilia have a habit of suddenly being discovered only to be debunked soon after, especially involving something as iconic as the Bullitt car. So the restorers enlisted the expertise of Kevin Marti, the country’s most respected Ford authenticator, who travelled to Mexicali to personally inspect the car. After checking the VIN stamps and verifying specific aspects of the car, Marti gave his stamp of approval.

From the LA Times:

Marti said there were two identical cars used in the filming of “Bullitt,” a “hero” car that was used for the casual driving scenes, and a “jumper” car that was used for the dramatic chases, some of which involve airborne launches.

“This is the jumper,” Marti said, based on documents obtained from the filming and alterations to the car’s suspension system.

The “hero” car is also extant, Marti added, but a nondisclosure agreement prevented him from saying anything except that it is in the hands of a private party, somewhere in the southeastern U.S. (Published reports have speculated it’s in Kentucky.)

So the big question is: how did the car end up in Mexico?

That could be a mystery that will never be solved. What isn’t a mystery is that the Bullitt car could very likely fetch over a million dollar if it were to show up at a Barrett-Jackson or Mecum auction. Ken Gross, car historian and former Petersen Automotive Museum consultant, called it the “Holy Grail of the Mustang car crowd.”

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