Saying So Long to Summer: A Short Sojourn in the Sensational Ford Mustang Bullitt

Words by: Adam Allen

If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu that the Mustang Bullitt has been in the Carpages Garage before, you are correct. It was last summer that we had our first go-around in the Steve McQueen inspired pony car, and you might say that we came away impressed.

With the constantly evolving lineup we try and get into a Mustang at least once while the window for warm weather opens, but a packed schedule of prior commitments meant we’d have to wait until next year to get back behind the wheel. Or so we thought. Then a funny thing happened- we suddenly found ourselves with an opening because of a last minute cancellation, and a similar situation occurred on Ford’s end- some unlucky journalist had to withdraw on the spur of the moment leaving the Bullitt without a driver for the last unofficial week of summer. When opportunity knocks you answer the door, especially if that opportunity is slathered in Dark Highland Green paint and packs a 480 horsepower hi-strung V8 mated to a thoroughly excellent manual gearbox.

An invitation came from some friends with a cottage near the bustling metropolis of Brechin, Ontario to spend the Labor Day weekend to say farewell to summer by soaking up the sun and swimming in the cool waters of Lake Simcoe until next spring. Naturally, we turned down any offers to hitch a ride in favor of our piloting our sporty steed, even though the roads around northern Durham region aren’t exactly the stuff drivers dream about- hardly any elevation changes and scarcely any curves to speak of are what you can expect. Still, it’s hard to have a bad time flogging a Mustang in any environment, so why not?

We already know that the Bullitt is a special car, and so our time behind the wheel was going to be more of a refresher than our usual exploratory mandate.

What probably stands out most from our time with the Bullitt is something we observed last year, and that is the sheer volume of noise that emanates from the tailpipes. Every time we selected Track exhaust mode-because why not- as we chased the redline, the sheer sonic malevolence that bathed our ears never grew tiring and could be heard several blocks away. We would be very surprised if anyone turns to the aftermarket for help in this department- it simply isn’t needed.

We noted that the magnetorheological shocks- which, frankly, are borderline magical in how well they work- did a terrific job of balancing mechanical grip and comfort. No Mustang is ever going to trade stiffness for a flaccid ride yet we never felt jarred or uncomfortable at any point, even on some recently resurfaced stretches of road that were as smooth as if they were paved by blindfolded construction workers.

We also re-familiarized ourselves with the Coyote V8, an engine that will be remembered long after Ford puts it out to pasture. It’s a thoroughly modern lump, smooth and polished and it somehow manages to mix equal parts of old school basso profundo with modern screamer. Sure, the Mustang pulls itself around at lower revs with ease, but it’s in the upper echelons of the tachometer where the Coyote truly shines. If you’re not wringing this thing out as much as possible you aren’t doing it right. The sound it makes at redline is not to be missed and with that exhaust set to its loudest setting, you won’t be. There’s a positive offshoot of the real power living at such high revs, and that is you don’t have to worry about roasting the tires off at lower rpm the way you might in say, a Chevy Camaro SS. The best part? You command this mechanical symphony by way of an incredible honest-to-goodness 6-speed manual whose action is slick and direct and the pedals are spaced perfectly for rev matched downshifts (the computers can do this for you, but it’s so much more rewarding when you do it yourself.) Fancy Ford’s excellent 10-automatic (the very same that makes 0-100km/h sprints in under 4 seconds possible in the GT model) to do the shifting for you? That’s cute.There isn’t one available, nor should there be in a car so focused on delivering driving pleasure. 

As we did last summer, there was a nagging sense of reluctance when we handed the keys back when it was time to return the Bullitt. If you are at all familiar with this car, you’ll understand exactly what we mean. Never mind that the Bullitt is a limited production model- someday we’ll be reading about naturally aspirated V8 engines in the same way we read about the cars from the Muscle era of the 60’s and 70’s. What we’re saying is this: if you are a fan of the pony car and have ever thought about buying one, you should really get around to driving a Bullitt which we believe is still the sweet spot of the entire Mustang lineup. It’ll be highly collectible one day but that shouldn’t be your motivation. There are few cars that are priced attainably that offer this much fun on sale today. Should you pull the trigger and get one, you’ll be able to enjoy it as much as you want, not just in the fading days of summer.

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

  • Price as tested: $58,275
  • 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: 14.1L/100 km (17 mpg)