Hollywood

Ford Mustang GT from 'Bullitt' movie sells for record $3.4 million at auction

At the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction in Scottsdale, the Ford Mustang GT featured in the movie "Bullitt" sold for $3.4 million.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In 1968, a Ford Mustang GT drove up San Francisco streets and across movie screens in the iconic Steve McQueen film "Bullitt." Today, one of the two Mustangs used in the film, dubbed the Ford Mustang Bullitt, crossed the auction block at a Mecum Auctions event in Kissimmee, Florida selling for $3.4 million.

Its sale price makes the sports car, colloquially known Bullitt Mustang, the most expensive Mustang sold at auction to date. The car originally sold for $3,500.

1968 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

For decades, it was thought that the original Mustangs used in the movie was lost to the annals of history. They weren't.

One was sent to a salvage yard and then resurfaced in 2017 in Baja, California. The other was purchased by a private buyer.

Instead of living it's best Hollywood life, the second Mustang was actually doing duty as a daily driver for the Kiernan family. McQueen tried to buy the Mustang from the family on numerous occasions but was rebuffed each time.

Instead of being driven by McQueen, the car wracked up 65,055 miles on its odometer as a daily driver and then was parked in 1981. The decades since we not kind to the car, which sat in a growing state of disrepair.

It was the Kiernan's son, Sean, who brought the Mustang to auction. He inherited the car in 2014 and began to work with Ford on plans to clean up and show off the model.

Now, the Mustang's time with the Kiernan family has come to an end. The identity of the buyer has not been revealed.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Plug it in to get 42 miles of all-electric range.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

At last year's LA Auto Show, Toyota debuted the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in variant of the best-selling SUV in the U.S. Now that the model is about to go on sale, the Japan-based automaker has revealed how much it will cost.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will have a starting MSRP of $38,100. Toyota will offer the model in just two grades: SE and XSE. Those two trim levels denote the SUV's underlying sporty drive characteristics according to traditional Toyota nomenclature.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hyrbid New Toyota RAV4 plug-in is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

While most PHEVs are designed to sacrifice power for range, the RAV4 doesn't. Its power plant is able to achieve 302 horsepower and can get to 60 mph off the line in 5.7 seconds. Toyota says that time makes the RAV4 Prime the quickest four-door model in their lineup.

The RAV4 Prime has 42 miles of all-electric range. Americans travel, on average, about 30 miles per day to run errands around town so theoretically whomever owns the SUV would be able to do all their errands without using a drop of gasoline. This range also gives the SUV the distinction of having the highest all-electric range of any plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) SUV on the market.

Toyota estimates that the SUV will achieve 94 MPGe combined. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, which is also a PHEV, gets 90 MPGe. The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport PHEV gets 42 MPGe and the 2020 Volvo XC60 PHEV gets 57 MPGe. Each model listed comes standard with all-wheel drive.

All Toyota RAV4 models come equipped with standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime SE

The SE trim level has a unique front grille and lower front spoiler. Piano black exterior accents are featured throughout the body. The SUV rides one 18-inch painted and machined alloy wheels.

Its standard equipment list is fitting for its price point and includes heated front seats, eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, a 7-inch multi-information display in front of the driver, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert technology, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with red stitching, power hatchback, 8-inch infotainment touch screen, Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

The car also comes standard with a 3-kilowatt-hour on-board charger.

The available Weather & Moonroof Package (+$1,665 upgrade) features a number of upgrades including a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers with de-icer function.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE starts at $41,425 and builds on what is offered in the SE model. It's available with a two-tone paint scheme that pairs a black roof with select colors, including the Supersonic Red paint that joins the RAV4 lineup for the first time.

Toyota's list of features for the RAV4 Prime XSE includes 19-inch two-tone alloy wheels, vertical LED accent lights, paddle shifters, a moonroof, SofTex seats, wireless charging, ambient interior lighting, automatic dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink universal transceiver, and a 9-inch infotainment touch screen.

Toyota is also offering the model with a Premium Audio package that includes dynamic navigation and a JBL speaker system.

Available options for the XSE grade include:

  • Weather Package (+$815)
    • Heated Steering Wheel
    • Heated Rear Outboard Seats
    • Rain Sensing Wipers w/Wiper De-Icer
  • Weather and Audio Package (+$2,435)
    • Weather package plus:
      • JBL Premium Audio
      • Dynamic Navigation with 3 year trial
      • Destination Assist with 1 year trial
  • Weather with Audio and Premium Package (+$5,760)
    • Weather and Audio package plus:
      • AC (6.6kW) Enhanced Charger
      • Digital Rearview Mirror
      • 120V/1500W AC power outlet in cargo area
      • Panoramic Moonroof
      • Kick-Type Power Back Door
      • SofTex®-trimmed seats with sporty red accents and stitching
      • Bird's Eye View Camera
      • 4-way power adjustable front passenger seat with seatback pocket
      • Smart Key System on all doors
      • Perforated Heated & Ventilated Front Seats
      • Parking Assist with Automatic Braking
      • Adaptive Front Headlight System
      • Head-Up Display

Prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) excluding the delivery, processing and handling (DPH) fee of $1,120. The DPH fee for vehicles distributed by Southeast Toyota (SET) and Gulf States Toyota (GST) may vary. RAV4 Prime customers also may qualify for an $7,500 federal tax credit. Individual states have additional incentives that can be either be applied at time of purchase or via a rebate program, depending on the state. Individual state incentive information can be found at https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/state.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid goes on sale this summer.

Trending News

 
 

This 1973 Volkswagen Thing has spent a great deal of its life in Wisconsin but is only allowed out when the sun shines.

Photo by Harvey Briggs

In the spring of 1971, Larry Nutson, then a young product planner for Volkswagen of America, walked into the meeting. He wasn't sure what to expect, but he certainly didn't suspect a Thing.

Director of Market and Product planning, Dr. Henry Braner had just returned from a vacation in Acapulco and was enamored with the VW Safaris he saw at the resorts and on the beaches. Dr. Braner was convinced Southern California's surfers and other adventurous individuals, who were drawn to the VW powered, Meyers Manx dune buggies of the era, would see the charm of what is officially called the Type 181, but became known in The States as the VW Thing.

1973 Volkswagen Thing The exterior of the model looks primed for wood paneling.Photo by Harvey Briggs

"I was fairly new at the company and couldn't have picked a better first project," said Nutson.

As part of the homologation team, Nutson was responsible for making sure the soon-to-be imported vehicle met not just the desires of the potential owners, but also the regulatory requirements in place at the time. That meant swapping out the taillights and turn signals with those from the contemporary Beetle, adding windshield wipers, and an approved steering column and steering wheel among other things. Emissions weren't an issue, because the Type 181 would use the currently approved Beetle engine and four-speed manual transmission. But it was pretty clear it wouldn't meet crash worthiness standards for passenger vehicles at the time.

Then someone had the brilliant idea to classify it as a "multi-purpose vehicle" like a Jeep. To do that they had to improve its off-road worthiness, so a 4.125:1 transaxle, 100-mm axles, heavy-duty CV joints, and knobbier tires were added to the mix.

At an approval meeting for the Thing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), regulators expressed doubt about the vehicle's all-terrain capabilities since only the rear wheels were driven. Nutson, together with VW's lawyers by his side, remembers firing back, "Who says an off-road vehicle has to have four-wheel drive?" Without a good answer, NHTSA agreed with VW and the Thing was released to U.S. dealers in August of 1972 as a 1973 model.

1973 Volkswagen Thing Many do a double-take when they see a Thing coming down the road wondering what it is.Photo by Harvey Briggs

Interestingly, the Thing might not have happened at all had NATO completed a project they started about a decade earlier to create a "European Jeep". Pooling their resources, the NATO countries including Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and France were trying to design and build a light-duty patrol vehicle that could be used by various armies throughout the continent. The project stalled in the mid-'60s, so the West German Army turned to Volkswagen to quickly fill the void. In 1968 the 181 was commissioned into service. Eventually VW provided over 50,000 Type 181s to NATO from 1968 – 1983.

The fast-track nature of the project meant the Type 181 was quickly assembled out of parts from a variety of existing Volkswagen vehicles, taking its inspiration from the Kübelwagen (Bucket Car) used by the German military in World War II. The foundation of the Type 181 was the floor pan from a Karmann Ghia convertible with added reinforcement for off-road use. This gave it the interior proportions necessary to hold four people and the strength to support the wide-open top. Early 181s had a rear-swing axel suspension was from from the T1 Type 2 Transporter van, and the manual transmission and iconic air-cooled, flat-four engine came from the Type 1 Beetle.

It wasn't long before the Type 181 (and it's right-hand drive twin the Type 182) were adapted for civilian use and in 1971 sales began in continental Europe as the Kurierwagen and the Safari in Mexico, where drivers were looking for something a little more rugged than their beloved Beetles. Originally produced in Wolfsburg, VW added capacity in Puebla, Mexico to fill demand for the Americas – making the Thing the first vehicle ever imported from Mexico to the United States.

1973 Volkswagen Thing Though small, the car is spacious.Photo by Harvey Briggs

The Thing was as basic as basic gets. It was only available in three colors, Blizzard White, Sunshine Yellow, and Pumpkin Orange. It featured bolt-on fenders, doors that were interchangeable from front to rear, side curtains instead of windows, and a soft top designed to keep the rain out. Smart owners always kept a towel handy to dry up the inevitable leaks.

It didn't really matter, however, because most people saw it as a vehicle to be driven in the sunshine. This ethos was also reflected in the original heating system for the Thing.

Mounted just in front of the driver under the Thing's hood was a gasoline heater produced by Eberspächer. Working independently of the engine, this heater had its own small tank you filled and then fired up when you wanted to warm up the cabin. It mustn't have been a very popular feature, because in 1974 the system was replaced by the fresh-air heater used in the Super Beetle.

The 1974 model year also saw the introduction of a new color, Avocado Green, and the Acapulco Edition, with it's special blue and white paint scheme, striped seats, and a Surrey top. In 1975, its final full year on sale in the United States, you could add air conditioning, a radio and even a winch to your Thing.

1973 Volkswagen Thing The Thing keeps its engine in the back.Photo by Harvey Briggs

Comfort wasn't the Thing's strong suit. Neither was performance. Powered by a 46-horsepower, 1,584 cc engine, and only available with a four-speed manual transmission, 0-60 mph times were better measured by calendar than stopwatch. The top speed of 68 miles per hour meant it was freeway capable, but owners tended to eschew the interstates whenever possible.

Drum brakes at all four wheels provided adequate stopping power. And even though the swing axle had been replaced by Porsche double-jointed rear axles with the independent trailing arm rear suspension from the Beetle, handling wasn't its strong suit either.

So if comfort, performance, and handling were all – let's be generous and say – marginal, what was the point of the Thing? In order to find out, I used the magic of social media to contact several owners and even found a young woman who was brave enough to let me drive her unrestored 1973 Thing for a first-hand demonstration of its charm.

1973 Volkswagen Thing This vintage model wears its 1973 Volkswagen license plate frame with pride.Photo by Harvey Briggs

Jason Fogelson purchased his 1974 Thing in the early 1980s when he was working at Michael's Volkswagen in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Canoga Park, California as a salesman to earn money to pay for college. His love affair with the model began one day when Edd Byrns (Kookie in "77 Sunset Strip") drove onto the lot in a blue and white Acapulco Thing to look for a new car. He had a Siberian husky in the passenger seat and from that moment on Jason knew he had to own one.

A few months later, a customer came in to buy a new car and wanted to trade in his orange Thing. The dealership didn't want it so Fogelson arranged to buy it from him for $2,000. He cleaned it up and thoroughly enjoyed driving it around town for the summer.

But when school started in the fall, he quickly discovered the Thing was a lousy car to serve for his 20-mile commute each way. The heater was terrible, the top leaked, it couldn't keep up with traffic, and it was so loud he couldn't hear the transistor radio he brought with him to listen to the morning news. "I couldn't get rid of it fast enough," Fogelson said, but then followed up, "And if I could find another one today, I'd buy it in a heartbeat."

1973 Volkswagen Thing The Thing rides on 14-inch wheels.Photo by Harvey Briggs

Jeff Zurschmeide, an AutomotiveMap writer and known quirky, old car enthusiast – his current collection includes a classic MINI, a dune buggy, and a 1955 M38A1 Jeep – bought his 1973 Thing in the late 1980s for $1,500 when he was living in Santa Cruz. "The car played a pivotal role in my life," said Zurschmeide, "I took the woman who was to become my wife on our first date in the Thing. I stuck my copy of Endless Summer in the tape deck, pulled off the doors, flipped down the windshield and we cruised through town. She loved it, so I knew the relationship had a chance."

When the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989, Zurschmeide discovered the utility and capability of the Thing. "It's a creditable off-road vehicle. I lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains very close to the epicenter of the quake. You'd drive along and there would be places where streams had changed course through a road or the ground had just sheared away and there was a six-inch step you had to climb up. The Thing just went everywhere."

Like Fogelson, he ended the interview by saying, "If an opportunity came up to get one in good shape for a good price, I would own another thing in a cold second."

Wanting to see and drive a Thing before writing this article, I had arranged to meet Wisconsinite Jennifer Mandich at the parking lot for our local baseball team, on a brisk but clear Wednesday morning.

1973 Volkswagen Thing The interior of the model is rather spartan.Photo by Harvey Briggs

Her 1973 Thing still wears its original and slightly faded orange paint. Her brother bought the car in Arizona and brought it to Wisconsin when he returned home. She'd been eyeing it for a few years while it sat in his garage undriven, and eventually convinced him to sell it to her. She drives the car only on sunny days and rarely puts up the top or takes the side curtains out from where they're stored, under the hood. The car itself is a survivor, with a few scratches, pits in the paint, and dents, but no rust thanks to her care.

The top has been replaced – something that almost all Things have in common – and the engine was rebuilt a few years ago. The interior is spartan, with the metal dashboard and simple seats with no headrest nor any side support. Legroom was adequate for my 6'3" frame, and as I started the car, all my VW memories came rushing back.

I've owned two Beetles, a Karmann Ghia, and a Type 3 Wagon, so everything about the Thing was familiar – the light clutch, the slightly rubbery shift feel, and the unassisted steering. There's a reason so many people of my generation learned to drive stick shifts in VWs, they are simple and forgiving with long clutch travel and an engine that's slow to stall. I took a quick spin around the empty parking lot to get a feel for the Thing and was completely unsurprised by any of its driving characteristics. And yet it was different from any VW I've driven in the way people reacted to it. It's a car that makes people smile, whether they're in the driver's seat, passenger seats, or on the sidewalk watching one trundle past.

1973 Volkswagen Thing This Thing, like so many others, has had its roof replaced.Photo by Harvey Briggs

Like my time behind the wheel, the Thing's availability in America was too short. 1975 saw the introduction of new safety regulations that made it illegal to sell regardless of its classification. In the three years it was on sale in the United States, 25,794 Things were sold. Many are still on the road today and they come up for sale regularly on sites like BringATrailer.com where prices range from a low of $6,300 to a high of $36,250 with most selling between $15,000 and $20,000 over the past three years.

If you're looking for an affordable classic that's loud, slow, uncomfortable and will make you grin from ear to ear every time you get behind the wheel, the VW Thing might just be your thing.

Trending News