Movie buffs will likely argue until the end of time as to which film car chase was the most exciting, but most agree that the Mustang/Charger pursuit in Bullitt is right up with best of them.
For those who don’t know the movie, the chase involves “Mr Cool” Steve McQueen as a detective, driving his 1968 Mustang in pursuit of two hoods in a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco. Ford has had a Bullitt model in its lineup on and off for some time now, but for the movie’s 50th anniversary this year, it was decided to come up with something special. The result is the 2019 Mustang Bullitt and it might just be the best muscle car ever developed.
The new car looks truly impressive and at first glance, it’s not easy to tell it’s a Mustang. All Mustangs look great nowadays, but this one stands out with something of a “stealth” look about it. For starters, there are no Mustang badges anywhere, just a large “Bullitt” logo on the tail. You have to search to find Ford badges too so the car looks quite exotic in it’s wonderful Dark Highland Green paint job. The colour is close to that of the movie car and that’s the hue most buyers will likely choose. The only alternative is Shadow Black, which probably looks even more menacing.
The Bullitt, lavishly equipped even in basic form, is a serious performer thanks to an upgraded 5.0-litre V-8 that puts out around 480-horsepower and produces 420 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission you can get is a six-speed automatic and it’s a good one offering slick, positive changes and I never missed a shift, even though it been quite a while since I’d used a manual transmission. The shift lever has a white cue ball knob just like the one in the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt. Compared to Mustangs of years ago, the new ones really get the power down well with no loss of adhesion at the rear wheels during hard acceleration.
The engine has a wonderfully throaty roar under hard acceleration, a roar that will delight enthusiasts if not the neighbours. Actually, the car can be carefully driven to produce only a satisfying V-8 burble and doesn’t have to disturb anybody. Ford has done great work with the handling and the Bullitt feels very predictable and safe. Expectedly, this Mustang has an extensive suite of electronic safety and stability features so it’s as safe and secure as any family sedan. Enthusiasts will regard the big Brembo brakes as the best possible safety feature.
My test Bullitt came with the optional Recaro competition-style front seats and they’re hip huggers in the true tradition of serious racing seats. They’re a tad awkward to climb into but once in place, you wouldn’t have it any other way. German manufacturer Recaro is famous for its race car seats and also produces seats for Lufthansa and other airlines.
The Mustang Bullitt is a real thrill to drive, not that common nowadays, especially in this Mustang’s price bracket. Few sports coupes offer as much fun and performance for the money but the big bonus is driving a re-creation of one of the iconic movie cars of the 20th century. Lt. Frank Bullitt would have loved this car.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Two-door sports coupe
ENGINE: 5.0-litre V-8
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 4.2-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 13.3-litres/100 km combined
PRICE: $57,525 MSRP (base vehicle)