SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – One of the most iconic car chase sequences in Hollywood history has to be the Mustang vs. Charger scene in 1968’s “Bullitt”. It not only captivated a generation, but the 1968 Ford Mustang used in that movie became an automotive legend, and one that spawned a number of limited editions produced by Ford. This year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the film, our friends at the blue oval have resurrected the name. We flew to San Francisco, California to sample the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt in all its Highland Green glory.
This special edition of the renowned pony car builds onto the Mustang GT with the Performance Package, and adds a bunch of goodies that make it my personal favourite in the lineup. Noteworthy features include a Torsen limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, a bigger rear anti-roll bar, and other beefed-up mechanicals. There is no EcoBoost here; the only powertrain option is a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8, the desirable motor in a Mustang.
The 5.0L has been enhanced courtesy of 87mm throttle bodies, rejigged powertrain computers, and an intake manifold swiped from the Shelby GT 350 (reviewed here). Power is up to 480 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque. It sure is fast, and the active valve performance exhaust makes it sound the part, too. This thing is a beast, and feels like the first Bullitt that is an appropriate throwback to Steve McQueen. Power delivery is immediate, and the Bullitt pulls hard and strong in every gear. Letting off the throttle also earns a healthy bark from the quad tips, and reminds you that you opted for something special.
No automatic transmission is available – the Bullitt’s only gearbox is a proper six-speed manual. Drivers can change gears courtesy of the white cue-ball shift knob also reminiscent of the original car. Shifter action is short and precise, and the clutch is far easier to modulate than Mustangs of the past. This car is very easy to drive quickly, and the independent rear suspension that was added for the 2015 model year makes all the difference. Those who really want to control the damping will make use of the MagneRide adaptive suspension system that’s standard on Canadian models.
Visually, the Bullitt is differentiated from its “lesser” siblings through two unique colours, the test vehicle here being Highland Green. The second is Shadow Black, which also looks quite good. The brake calipers are red, and the Mustang badge on the front grille has been removed. The car gets a series of black accents including a ground effects kit, but there is some chrome around the window lines and grille that we could do without. It takes away from the sinister look of the car, but again, this is something that buyers can take care of in the aftermarket.
Canadian models get a Bullitt Electronics Package as standard equipment too, which adds navigation, memory seats, and a B&O PLAY sound system. Blind spot information with cross-traffic alert is also standard, and the standard leather seats are both heated and ventilated. This means the only option for Canadians is a $1,800 set of Recaro performance seats. Those intending to track their Mustang Bullitt will want to opt for these, but buyers who just want an excellent daily driver should really give the standard seats a try. They’re more than adequate for my needs and fit my form perfectly.
The interior of the Bullitt is fairly standard issue for the current Mustang. The 12.3” digital instrument cluster is on board, and it’s easy to use with many configurable options. A button on the steering wheel with the Mustang logo brings up the performance settings menu and allows you to toggle things like the exhaust. Ergonomics are also good, with far better visibility than the Camaro (reviewed here).
Ford is known to have complicated option packages and individual options that often make finding the exact car you want a confusing process. With the Bullitt, that’s all gone – they all cost $57,525 Canadian, which isn’t bad at all. No extra charge for paint, heated seats, or different gearing – it only comes one way. If you want the Recaros, add $1,800 to that. This is actually incredible value and goes right up against the track-oriented Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE, which is also a legitimate weapon in its own right.
The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt is a breathtaking car, and it was the experience of a lifetime to hustle it through the hills of San Francisco. Experiencing the same streets that I’ve seen countless times on my television was a sensation in itself, and to do it in a modern iteration of the same car that Frank Bullitt drove is a checkmark on the bucket list. This is a limited edition that isn’t just a gimmick; it’s a car that will sell very quickly at MSRP because of the sheer nostalgic demand. This is a keeper.