Words by: Adam Allen
A car this cool, unique and um…LOUD deserves a slight departure from a regular review. You’ve seen the teaser photos before its release, you’ve likely seen it at your local autoshow last winter and now, here it is in the metal. With that dear reader, we offer you a list of the most crucial information you need to know about Ford’s Bullit Mustang; a comprehensive prospectus, if you will.
It’s got really cool paint. And wheels. And shift knob.
- Yes, Dark Highland Green is the colour, but if that’s not you’re thing (why would it not be?) you can order your Bullit in Shadow Black, too.
- Those wonderfully retro 19” Heritage glass black wheels are shod in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires that deliver praiseworthy grip.
- The shift knob for the 6-speed manual ‘box (sorry automatic fans, you are outta luck here- there isn’t one available) is finished with a cue ball top that feels great to the touch. Ford really sweated the details on this one- they didn’t want to use something that was flimsy and delicate and they succeeded in giving it substance, so that it actually feels like, well, an actual cue ball.
This Mustang’s connection to a famous film is well known but explain anyway.
- The legendary Steve McQueen embraced the role of Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, assigned to protect a mobster-turned-witness. As the plot unfolds, McQueen’s mirrors on his 1968 Mustang 390 GT become full of a Dodge Charger R/T in hot pursuit. In what must be one of the most prolific car chase scenes in the history of film, the hunted becomes the hunter, and the two cars engage in a display of high speed driving and lurid oversteer until the Charger meets its end in a fireball after crashing into a gas station.
- This is the 50th anniversary of that incredible flick and Ford invited the world’s motoring press to San Francisco so ham-fisted journalists could live out their Steve McQueen fantasies, although it must be said that all rules of the road were strictly obeyed (mostly) and there were no ’68 Chargers on hand giving chase with a bad guy sawing madly at the wheel in an effort to evade capture.
- Classic car fans might howl in disgust, but we think the 2019 version of McQueen’s ride is better than the original; much faster, too. If the chase were recreated today, the Bullitt Mustang would leave a Charger R/T for dead- both then and now.
The Bullitt Mustang is faster than the GT model on which it’s based, and inches closer to GT350 territory.
- The Bullitt starts out life as a Mustang GT with the Performance Package before the Bullitt bits are fitted. It gets Ford’s sublime MagneRide suspension, and then the GT350’s higher flowing intake manifold and throttle body are installed to give the Bullitt an extra 20 horsepower for a total of 480 while torque remains the same at 420 lbs/ft.
- That kind of snort means it creeps closer to the GT350 with whom it shares some of those go-fast parts. The GT350 will still emerge on top in a drag race, but with a redline of 7,500 rpm for the Bullitt, it’s only 750 revs shy of the Voodoo’s shrieking flat plane V8’s redline of 8,250.
- It sounds seriously good, and it’s almost impossibly loud. From just past the torque peak at a relatively high 4,600 rpm right up to the redline this car makes a noise that must be heard to be believed- you’ll find yourself trolling for underpasses and dropping down a gear or two randomly, just for the fun of it. We’d describe the soundtrack as what would occur if McQueen’s V8 from ’68 were spliced with the DNA of a Honda VTEC mill with a couple of Sawzall’s going at full whack thrown in for good measure. It’s peaky for a large American bent eight but the rewards of winding the tach out all the way are so worth it.
- It features an Exhaust Mode that let’s you play with what degree you’ll annoy your neighbours when you fire it up for your morning commute. Luckily for us, we live in a community that relishes the cool cars that take up residency in the Carpages Garage, so we left it in Sport which is the second loudest setting and starts with a healthy roar before settling into a bassy idle. What’s amazing is how hushed Quiet Mode really is. If you live beside light sleepers, they will love that the Bullitt comes so equipped and will allow you to slink away undetected.
It would be a much better choice to pursue bad guys with than its ancestor.
- Steve McQueen’s Mustang is quite beautiful, and it would make the list of many an enthusiast’s Dream Car Garage but let’s be honest- it has all the grace of a bull in a china shop. The suspension was little more advanced than an ox cart, the brakes could barely cope with the weight of all that Detroit iron and the engine’s output would be shamed by a contemporary minivan. The current Bullitt towers over its aged brother dynamically. Its trick suspension offers an amazing balance of grip and comfort while the massive Brembo brake hardware shrugged off anything we could throw at it with ease and of course we know the engine is a sweetheart.
- The gearbox is a suitable mate to the 5.0 Coyote and is a joy to use. It offers rev matched downshifts, but the gear lever and pedals are so well laid out that we turned it off and did it ourselves- Steve would have approved. It’s geared crazy long however, so probing the redline in say, 3rd gear will have you exceeding every speed limit of this great country by a fearsome margin. You learn to adjust your driving style, often driving in a lower gear than you might usually. This has a negative effect on fuel economy, but who cares?
- Like we said earlier, it wears Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires which, kudos to Ford engineers, is the perfect tire for this car. It offers huge levels of grip but refuses to beat you up, and they perform admirably in the rain. Added bonus: although they’re plenty sticky, they won’t wear out in the span of a summer thanks to their relatively robust treadwear rating.
The Bullitt’s option sheet is as uncluttered as the exterior.
- The Bullitt Mustang subscribes to the Less is More philosophy; you’ll notice that there is no decklid spoiler, no pony badge in the grille and the utter lack of any shouty stripes or body addenda. It’s clean, baby. The only Mustang badges of note are in the centre caps of the wheels.
- Rather than force buyers to hem and haw at the options buffet, the Bullitt comes with pretty much everything you’d want- the only option is for racy Recaro bucket seats, a box that was ticked on our tester’s order sheet. We find ourselves a bit torn on these- they are truly excellent thrones, but during the sweltering summer of 2018, we missed the cooling feature that comes on the standard perches. Choose wisely, friends- but you really can’t go wrong with either.
- Complaints are extremely minimal- we aren’t the biggest fans of the 2018 styling refresh to the front end, nor do we much care for the non-functioning, extraneous vents on the hood. Other than those two faults which are very much according to personal taste, it’s hard to fault the Bullitt Mustang.
- They are only making this model to the 2020 model year so you’d better act fast. The way the bonkers collector market is going, we wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the Bullitt becomes seriously valuable piece several years down the road.
- Did we mention it’s loud?
2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt
- Price as tested: $61,650
- Body Type: 2-door, 2+2 passenger coupe
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear-wheel drive
- Engine: 5.0-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves
- Horsepower: 480 @ 7,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 420 @ 4,600 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Curb weight, manual transmission: 1,746 kg (3,850 lb)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 15L/100 km (16 mpg)