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The Mustang Bullitt Returns

A tribute to automotive cinema.

While too long and more than a bit too slow, the 1968 cinematic drama Bullitt has proven an enduring classic due to one defining element: a groundbreaking car chase. While it definitely doesn’t hurt that the film’s lead role is played by Steve McQueen, the king of cool himself, the star of the movie is arguably his character’s lovely green Ford Mustang. Bullitt is really only remembered for its nearly 11-minute chase scene in which McQueen, as lieutenant Frank Bullitt, chases a Dodge Charger around San Francisco in his Dark Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT Fastback.

As far as movie cars go, the Bullitt Mustang is nothing short of automotive royalty and over the years Ford has seen fit to pay tribute to their silver screen Mustang with Bullitt-inspired special editions. They produced a Bullitt edition for both the fourth and fifth generation Mustang platforms, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the debadged and chrome-free 2008 Mustang Bullitt.

Now, ten years later, there’s a new Bullitt. Announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the 2019 Mustang Bullitt is a special edition spin on the Mustang GT dressed to look like McQueen’s legendary fastback. Available in Shadow Black (boo) and Dark Highland Green (yay), the new Mustang Bullitt has minimal badging and chrome and comes on a lovely set of black 19-inch aluminum wheels. No spoilers, no stickers, just a clean simple shape and that perfect green/black colour scheme.

Announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the 2019 Mustang Bullitt is a special edition spin on the Mustang GT dressed to look like McQueen’s legendary fastback.

More than just a cosmetics package, the Mustang Bullitt features a tuned version of the GT’s 5.0-Litre V8 engine. With no less than 475 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, the new Bullitt boasts a top speed of 262 km/h. Available exclusively with a manual transmission, the Bullitt has only three available options: Recaro bucket seats, an electronics package (upgraded stereo, navigation, and driving aids), and Ford’s adaptive MagneRide suspension (though this is standard in Canada).

While the idea of a movie-inspired special edition car is pretty dubious, the Bullitt has defied the odds and now offers a third generation expression of the original movie car. Explaining the project, Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer said, “It has to have the right attitude, it has to be unique in some way from a Mustang GT, and more than anything, it has to be badass.”

Bravado aside, the expression of the Bullitt as a special Mustang without the use of spoilers, stickers, race bits, and errant carbon fiber should be applauded, as it’s no easy feat. Furthermore, to stick so closely to the spec of the original car shows more tact than one might expect from a special edition sports car, regardless of manufacturer.

Speaking of the original car, two Mustangs were used in the filming of Bullitt. Over the years, one of the two cars was sold to a private owner and then disappeared from public knowledge. When the original owner passed away, his son contacted Ford about the car and they brought it to the Detroit auto show for the presentation of the new 2019 Mustang Bullitt. With the two cars next to each other, it’s easy to see not only the evolutionary design of the Mustang but also the legacy of the Bullitt styling as applied to the current generation of the Mustang.

While official pricing has yet to be announced, Ford recently auctioned the first 2019 Mustang Bullitt via Barrett-Jackson and saw a hammer price of $300,000 USD ($369,300 Canadian). While undoubtedly an insane price for a modern Mustang, all of the funds were donated to the Boys Republic, a California school and charity for at-risk adolescents that once housed a young Steve McQueen.


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