Missing for nearly 50 years, the iconic 1968 Mustang GT that Steve McQueen drove in the 1968 movie "Bullitt" has turned up in a scrap yard in Baja California and been restored by the owner of a Southern California body shop and his partner, according to two restorers.
The star car disappeared shortly after filming was completed and remained missing despite the late McQueen's attempts to locate and purchase it for his private collection. But the Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Paramount-based body shop owner Ralph Garcia Jr., who has made a career building replicas of the "Eleanor" Mustang featured in the Nicolas Cage movie "Gone in 60 Seconds," said he was contacted by an associate in Mexico, who said he had found a clean '68 Mustang fastback that he thought would be a good candidate for "Eleanor"-ization.
The associate, Hugo Sanchez, delivered the car to a shop Garcia owns in Mexicali, Mexico. It was scheduled for restoration when Sanchez called Garcia and told him he had run the vehicle identification numbers on the car and discovered it was no ordinary Mustang, The Times reported.
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"I was going to turn it into another 'Eleanor' car, but my partner Googled the VIN," Garcia told The Times. "That's how he found out it was the `Bullitt' car. He said, 'You can’t touch it!'"
Car historian and former Petersen Automotive Museum consultant Ken Gross, who called the car "the Holy Grail of the Mustang car crowd," said the Mustang could be worth $1 million at auction.
"This is certainly on the list of top 10 list of most desirable missing cars," Gross said, right up there with the Porsche actor James Dean was driving when he died, The Times reported.
The car was the star of one of the great chase scenes of all time, a head-to-head-duel between two muscle cars that filled the streets of San Francisco with tire smoke. McQueen, who was an accomplished sports car racer, did some of his own driving as determined inspector Frank Bullitt on the tail of a bad guy in a sinister-looking 1968 Dodge Charger.