The Bullitt is back.
It’s been 50 years since Steve McQueen and his ’68 Mustang GT fastback tore up the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt, and the movie’s signature car chase has since become the stuff of gearhead legends—a tire-squealing, hubcap-spitting, nearly 11-minute long pursuit that set the bar for every cinematic car chase since.1
To celebrate that golden anniversary, Ford is releasing a brand-new 2019 edition Mustang Bullitt, the third version of the car—essentially an amped-up, special edition GT—and the first since 2009. “We’re really excited about this one,” Ford Canada president and CEO Mark Buzzell told me at the Canadian International AutoShow, where the company will be showing off the new Mustang to Canadian car fans for the first time.
It’s easy to see why. There’s no racing stripes or unnecessary flourishes here, just clean, muscular lines and that classic Highland Green that evoke the mystique and Steve McQueen cool of the original car (which resurfaced in a Tennessee garage earlier this year and is now set to be inducted into the National Historic Vehicle Register). It’s classic American muscle, updated for 2019.
“It’s really a perfect marriage of the design cues of the past with the technology and performance of today,” says Shannon White, product marketing manager for Ford Canada. There’s McQueen’s white cue ball shifter,2 a faux gas cap and dark green paint job3—“Really, those things that are signature Bullitt”—but also a 12-inch LCD instrument panel, with a special Bullitt welcome screen and pinch-to-zoom technology, optional Recaro racing seats, and Mustang’s active valve performance exhaust system that comes with four different modes, from Track (for you) to Quiet mode (for your neighbours)
When you do let it rip, that growl is hard to miss, turning heads on the convention centre floor. “This particular edition of Bullitt has a unique open-air induction system, and it uses a modified GT 350 air manifold, so it has its own signature sound,” explains White.
That’s because the Bullitt has the same engine as the 2018 GT, with a few performance tweaks—and boosted horsepower. “It’s got a little more horsepower and torque than the base Mustang GT,” promises Buzzell, clocking in at 475-hp to the ’18 GT’s 460.
“Some cars look great, some cars handle really well and feel great. This car looks great, feels great, but it sounds great,” says White. “It’s just a total sensory experience when you get in the vehicle and drive it.”
That crowd-pleasing appeal was one of the main reasons McQueen supposedly chose the now-iconic ’68 GT for his character’s ride in the first place. “Obviously Steve McQueen could’ve had any vehicle he wanted in that movie,” says Buzzell. “He wanted a vehicle that the moviegoing public could leave the movie theater and actually be able to buy.”
The same holds true for the 2019 Bullitt. It’s a limited edition, North America-only release, yes, but one that will be made available at every Ford dealership in Canada, according to Buzzell. (Meanwhile, the 50th anniversary-edition Bullitt will also be released in two model years—2019 and 2020—says White.)
And while no pricing information has been made available yet, you can expect the car to retail at slightly more than the $47,288 starting price for the 2018 GT Premium Fastback—and a whole lot less than the original ’68 movie car (currently estimated at $3 million USD) or the first 2019 Bullitt, which sold at a charity auction in January for a cool $300K. “I don’t think it’ll be quite that expensive, not to worry,” promises White.
Finding a Charger to race is on you though.
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|1.||↑||Even though it’s presumably verboten in the Dodge Charger-loving Toretto household.|
|2.||↑||The 2019 Bullitt is manual transmission only—“Because that’s the way Steve and our enthusiasts would want it to be,” says Buzzell.|
|3.||↑||Although the 2019 will also be offered in Shadow Black, for you non-purists. “That’s a tormenting one, right?,” laughs White. “You feel like it should only be green. But we do like to offer customers choice.”|