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Steve McQueen would've loved this - Ford's cool Mustang Bullitt edition

2018-01-15 19:00

SPECIAL EDITION: Ford has recreated the Mustang Bullitt for 2019, packing more power from its V8 engine than the normal GT model. Image: Supplied

Detroit – Celebrating the 50th anniversary of iconic movie 'Bullitt' and its fan-favorite San Francisco car chase, Ford introduces its new Mustang Bullitt.

Third-generation member of the McQueen family, Molly, starred in a special movie of her own introducing the new third-generation Bullitt at the 2017 North American International Auto Show.

In the film, Molly races a new Mustang Bullitt through a parking structure battling a Dodge Charger for the final free space.

Helping it win that particular spot was the Bullitt’s upgraded 5.0-litre V8 engine that will deliver at least 354kW/570Nm, pushing the new Bullitt to a top speed of 262km/h – an 12km/h increase versus the latest Mustang GT.

 

Special Edition

As a special-edition model, the all-new Mustang Bullitt is equipped with a manual transmission, and the gear shifter features a white cue ball shift knob as a nod to the original.

The vehicle packages all Mustang GT Premium and Performance Package content into a vehicle that maintains the original Bullitt’s understated persona.

An active valve performance exhaust system is standard with new Black NitroPlate exhaust tips, and retuned to give the car a signature burble, as well as new Open Air Induction System and Shelby GT350 intake manifold with 87mm throttle bodies and powertrain control module calibration for optimal performance.

Standard equipment includes a heated leather steering wheel and a 30cm all-digital LCD instrument cluster, identical in function to the cluster introduced on 2018 Mustang, but with a unique Bullitt welcome screen that starts in green with an image of the car rather than the pony.

"This new Bullitt is, as Steve McQueen was, effortlessly cool," said Darrell Behmer, Mustang chief designer. "As a designer, it’s my favourite Mustang – devoid of stripes, spoilers and badges. It doesn’t need to scream about anything – it’s just cool."

Exterior paint choices are limited to Shadow Black and the classic Dark Highland Green – as worn in the movie. Other features that pay tribute to the car McQueen drove are subtle chrome accents around the grille and front windows, classic torque thrust 19" aluminum wheels, red painted Brembo  brakes, and a unique black front grille.

Inside and out, the vehicle uses minimal badging; only the circular faux gas cap Bullitt logo on the rear centre is visible on the exterior.

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"When making a Bullitt, there are certain things it absolutely must have," said Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer. “It has to have the right attitude, it has to be unique in some way from a Mustang GT, and more than anything, it has to be bad ass.”

That reputation was born after a Mustang GT fastback played a prominent role in the 1968 movie, and most notably in a chase scene that set new standards in filmmaking. The film’s nearly 10-minute-long sequence followed McQueen chasing down two hitmen in his Mustang through the streets of San Francisco.

The original

Two identical 1968 Mustang GT fastbacks were used in the filming of the classic Warner Bros. movie “Bullitt” that debuted in theaters on Oct. 17, 1968. After filming, the cars went their separate ways: the hero vehicle driven by McQueen in the movie was sold by Warner Bros. to a private buyer, and the other – used in many of the jumps during the famous chase scene – was sent to a salvage yard. That jumper vehicle resurfaced in Baja, California, in early 2017, but the other was lost to history. Until now.

Sean Kiernan, owner of the hero vehicle, inherited the car in 2014 from his late father, Robert, who had purchased the vehicle in 1974. To fulfill his family’s lifelong dream, Sean contacted Ford and the two parties worked together to reveal his movie star car alongside the all-new 2019 Mustang Bullitt at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"You know, it was never our intention to keep this car a secret from everybody,” Sean said. "It just kind of happened with life. I’m just completely buzzing to join with Ford and the new Bullitt and show this car to the world on one of the biggest stages there is."

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