Ford Resurrects the Mustang Bullitt as Film's 50th Anniversary Nears

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The first Bullitt go-round was a 2001 attempt to upgrade the Mustang GT with a modicum of extra power and a styling nod to an old movie that couldn’t be more forgettable, were it not for a stellar chase sequence. The 2001-2002 Mustang Bullitt, however, couldn’t do anything about its facelifted 1990s sheetmetal, which hardly asks, “Are you going to San Francisco?”

It was the fifth-generation Mustang’s retro design that proved a far more suitable canvas for Ford’s performance brush. Endowed with a more generous helping of brawn, the 2008-2009 Bullitt was a fitting homage to a certain Dark Highland Green ’68 Mustang 390. Still, all good things must come to an end. Or do they?

If you’ve heard rumors recently, consider this a confirmation. The Bullitt is back, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Steve McQueen flick that made chassis-bending jumps popular a decade before the Duke boys. Driven onto the Cobo Center stage in Detroit by McQueen’s granddaughter, Molly McQueen, the Sunday night reveal of Ford’s turtleneck-and-sport-coat ‘Stang was a pleasant distraction from the automaker’s incessant future-speak.

For the 2019 Bullitt, due out this summer, the model’s signature blacked-out five-spokes (with chrome rim) expand to 19 inches. Body color remains the same, though Shadow Black is an option for those who can’t stomach paint perfection. A chrome faux gas cap harkens back to the days of pennies-a-gallon gas and Flower Power, and the chrome-ringed grille is tailor-made for putting black Charger owners on notice.

Inside, you’ll find available Recaro sport seats adorned with green stitching, but it’s more likely you’ll notice the cue-ball shifter on this Mustang’s six-speed stick first. That’s the only transmission choice here, as Ford’s keeping things as traditional as possible. Well, sort of, as Lt. Frank Bullitt didn’t have optional MagneRide semi-active suspension to sort out the landings on those San Francisco hills. Nor was there an available electronics package boasting navigation and blind spot monitoring with a cross-traffic alert feature in Frank’s day.

Nice touches, but what about power? The new Bullitt, thankfully, isn’t allergic to the gym.

Like the GT upon which it’s based, the Bullitt’s hood hides a 5.0-liter V8, only this one’s hit the weights. Borrowing the GT350’s intake manifold, 87 mm throttle bodies, and powertrain control module calibration, as well as an open air induction system, the mill is good for “at least” 475 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, Ford claims. This means the Bullitt’s good for 163 miles per hour, flat out.

Out back, Black NitroPlate exhaust tips top off an active valve performance exhaust system. You’ll know of its presence by a “signature burble” — one designed to strike fear into the hearts of conservatively dressed hitmen everywhere.

What can a buyer expect to pay for the third-generation Bullitt Mustang? Ford’s keeping it a secret until closer to the release date, but anticipate a significant premium over a GT.

Not one to skimp on nostalgia, Ford managed to source one of the two original 1968 Mustangs used in the film in order to place it alongside the 2019 model. As this particular vehicle wasn’t used for low-altitude flights over San Fran’s voluptuous topography, the unmolested Stang found a private buyer after fulfilling its contract with the movie studio. Sean Kiernan, son of the car’s presumed second owner, recently contacted Ford with his find.

After all of Ford’s unsettling “city of tomorrow” talk, it was nice, though not completely reassuring, to see history come together in this way. Let’s hope this raw, individualistic heritage isn’t forgotten in the headlong race for “disruptive” self-driving vehicles and other utopian “mobility solutions.”

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Raph Raph on Jan 15, 2018

    It will be interesting to see how these cars run in the quarter mile with the revised engine. The 2018 GT already runs about where a 470-480 horsepower engine in a 3900-4000 pound car should (with driver and fuel) especially with that trap speed which reflects less on the A10 transmission and more on the power it puts out. If the Bullitt is running the same or close to the same times as the GT350 or even faster then the 475+ is much like the 460 horsepower in the GT which is more or less wink...wink...nudge...nudge... In any event if Ford doesnt shift the redline over the standard GT then the Bullitt will certainly "out torque" the GT350 especially with the advantage of its hybrid fuel injection allowing more aggressive ignition timing where it can give the engine a boost in the low to mid power range and since the Gen III coyote is sort've Voodoo lite by dint of missing out with a slighly smaller bore and a few less cubes but utitlizes an as cast version of the GT350's cylinder heads the GT350 intake gear brings it even closer. All in all not a bad thing if the Bullitt runs neck and neck with the GT350 in the quarter as I've always thought that the naturally aspirated cars like the 04 Mach and later Boss 302 and current GT350 should really be setting the bar for future Mustang GT performance and in this case Bullitt performance. GT350 owners will get thier knickers in a twist but who cares as Ford just announced the GT500 and has said 700+ horsepower and to be frank the concept of the GT350 was lost on most of those cats anyway since it was less about owning one of Ford's sweetest handling Mustangs and more about having the top dog in the model range and now that the GT500 is making its debut as a 2019 model they can always trade up provided they didnt get stung too badly with an ADM.

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Jan 16, 2018

    While the new one is nice, I like the looks of the 68 better. Yeah, I'm an old fart.:)

  • Redapple2 Another bad idea from the EVIL gm Vampire.
  • Daniel J Alabama is a right to work state so I'd be interested in how this plays out. If a plant in Alabama unionized, there are many workers who's still oppose joining and can work.
  • ToolGuy This guest was pretty interesting.
  • NJRide So this is an average age of car to be junked now and of course this is a lower end (and now semi-orphaned) product. But street examples seem to still be worth 2500? So are cars getting junked only coming in because of a traumatic repair? If not it seems a lot of cars being junked that would still possibly worth more than scrap.Also Murilee I remember your Taurus article way back what is the king of the junkyard in 2024?
  • AMcA I applaud Toyota for getting away from the TRD performance name. TuRD. This is another great example of "if they'd just thought to preview the name with a 13 year old boy."