What is it?
The revival of a movie car icon or a cynical marketing ploy, depending on your view. Before driving it, I found myself in the latter camp, but its funny how opinions can change just by taking the time to enjoy and appreciate something.
As the name suggests, the Ford Mustang Bullitt has been built to mark the 50th anniversary of the film of the same name. The film itself was hardly a cinematic triumph, but is best known for an unforgettable car chase involving Steve McQueen at the wheel of a Highland Green Mustang GT390 Fastback chasing down two hitmen in a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco.
Of course, none of that should be news to an Autocar reader. Rebooting an automotive film star from the '60s is a risky business, particularly given today’s models usually bear almost no relation to the original. Thankfully, that’s not the case with today’s 'Stang.
It may be bigger, heavier and, unlike the original, able to give you a fair chance of survival in a head-on collision, but it’s still familiar territory. There’s a shouty naturally aspirated V8 up front (albeit slightly smaller than the 6.4-litre GT390), while drive is sent through a manual gearbox and is put to the road via the rear wheels.
This is no quick paint job and badge swap, either. The Bullitt benefits from an open air induction system nicked from the Shelby GT350, bigger throttle bodies and a new exhaust. The result is a modest 8bhp power boost to 453bhp (US market versions get more power thanks to our tough emissions regs), as well as improved responses and, crucially, more noise.
Like the cars used in the original film, the suspension has been uprated with ‘heavy duty’ front springs and a stiffened-up rear anti-roll bar. A number of new features debut on the Bullitt and will transfer to the 2019-model-year Mustang, including a rev-matching system for the manual 'box, a 1000w B&O sound system and an active exhaust.