You May Have Missed Me: 2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While Americans were busy scratching their heads over how to manage a Very Covid Christmas, Ford was producing the final examples of the Mustang Bullitt. Modeled after the Mustang GT driven by Lt. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) in the 1968 American action thriller that shares the lead character’s last name, the Bullitt tends to hit the market whenever Ford feels the itch.

For its third incarnation, the automaker decided the 2019-2020 model years were enough and had previously hinted that the model would be supplanted by an updated Mach 1. That unit has since been confirmed for 2021, taking the best components in the Mustang lineup to build a solid performer that’s economical to produce. But it didn’t leave any room for the Bullitt, with Mustang spokesperson Berj Alexanian confirming to Ford Authority that the final batch left Flat Rock Assembly right around the time we published our last review on the throwback coupe.

From Ford Authority:

The last Ford Mustang Bullitt was produced for just two model years – 2019 and 2020 – but was revealed back at the 2018 North American International Auto Show alongside one of the original movie cars from 1968. At the reveal, Steve McQueen’s daughter, Molly, was the presenter on stage. The original movie Bullitt has since surfaced and subsequently sold for huge money at auction.

The S550 Mustang Bullitt used the familiar formula that we’ve seen in the past, including its signature Highland Green paint – though Shadow Black was also offered as an option. Additional exterior changes included black 19-inch five-spoke wheels, a spoiler and badge delete, chrome trim on the side windows and grille, and a faux gas cap.

Despite the Bullitt’s distinct character traits, it sold for $4,000 less than the planned Mach 1. This assured its demise since Ford would be absolutely crazy to sell it against a new model boasting nearly identical specifications (480hp/420 lb-ft). We’ve previously pondered whether this makes the incoming Mach 1 a solid value or not. But any conclusions we might make are irrelevant when you consider Ford is culling the Mustang lineup quite a bit to make room for it.

In fact, the future of the model seems incredibly murky. The Blue Oval seems to be considering the all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossover as the next standard-bearer while the industry seems to be shunning gasoline-driven performance coupes. But there remains a large subset of automotive enthusiasts who refuse to acknowledge anything that doesn’t adhere to the traditionally front-engine/rear-drive V8 design as the genuine article. The Mach-E seems to have as good of a chance of becoming the next Ford Probe as it does the Mustang.

As for the Bullitt, we may have seen the last of it. Beloved as the 1968 film happens to be among movie buffs and automotive enthusiasts, we’re not sure it has the kind of marketing longevity necessary to warrant another return. Younger people have a tendency to miss movies that are over half a century old, leaving the vehicle’s core demographic with a lot of gray hair. Then again, the original Mach 1 was introduced the same year Bullitt hit theaters and is still recognized as a unique Mustang variant among non-car folks.

Perhaps the McQueen-inspired Bullitt has achieved similar recognition and will have sufficient cachet for one final appearance a decade from now. However, if you’re not interested in waiting on a gamble, there’s a chance you can find a holdover 2020 model. Just don’t expect to undercut the $46,705 MSRP.

[Images: Ford]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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6 of 10 comments
  • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 03, 2021

    "Bullitt" was a bull sh!t excuse for a mediocre car chase. Don't waste your time. Pull up "To Live and Die in LA." or "Basic Instinct" "Easy Rider" was another waste of time. An hour plus music video. Bullitt Mustangs barely register on the scale of Mustang fanatics. It goes downhill from there.

    • See 3 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 03, 2021

      @FreedMike A great car chase is a bonus, but I'm in it for flicks that hit all the marks. Story development, acting, directing, cast, locations, score, etc. Otherwise it has to be fun, hilarious, etc, to entertain.

  • Ryannosaurus Ryannosaurus on Feb 03, 2021

    Off topic here, but look at the height difference between the original and the 2020 mustang. The 68 looks like its ready to go off-roading. No wonder people are gravitating toward crossovers. My 2012 Chevy Malibu used to scrape at my banks parking lot exit like a low rider. This might explain some of the trend to taller vehicles with an extra inch of clearance.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.