Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsCar Reviews
2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt - Bullitt Is Back
The Original '68 Mustang From Bullitt Was A Tight Ride, But Steve Mcqueen, Errr... Frank Bullitt, Would Have Loved To Whip The Charger In This '08 Version.
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For Mustang and Ford aficionados, the Bullitt Mustang needs no introduction. Some 40 years ago, Bullitt-the '68 Warner Brothers film by the same name-starred the ever-cool Steve McQueen as Detective Frank Bullitt, with his equally iconic costar, a Dark Highland Green '68 390, four-speed Mustang. Together, they chased down the sinister black Charger in a six-minute-plus romp through the wild streets of San Francisco. The bad guys in the Charger fired countless shotgun rounds at Bullitt, but he prevailed, and ultimately, the Charger wrecks in a spectacular fiery crash. Mustang, 1-Charger, 0.
The film's Mustang vs. Charger showdown is one of the all-time-best movie chases. Such a scene will not likely be re-created, although today Mustang fans will get the chance to steal a little McQueen "cool" behind the wheel of the recently introduced '08 Bullitt Mustang.
Yes, Bullitt is back, and we got our hands on one of the Dark Highland Green examples for a week this past October. The question is, what does one do with such a car? Naturally, we looked for the bad guys in a black '08 Charger to chase down. We found one, and the race was on!
The pursuit began on the strip at Raceway Park, before we took the chase to the streets. On screen, Detective Bullitt put the hammer down against those shotgun-wielding fellows in the Charger. His Mustang takes a few direct hits, but he remained unscathed. Shockingly, I couldn't find anyone in our office willing to be shot at-not even the guys on Super Chevy. Plus, Ford Public Affairs wouldn't take kindly to us blasting holes in its newest Stang. So we chose to lay some rubber, while putting the two vehicles through their paces. We're proud to say the Mustang quickly took the lead and never looked back.
Bullitt Is Back-Again
In 2001, Ford paid homage to McQueen's movie Stang, building the '01 Bullitt Mustang. It was a hit, but the current body style better replicates the lines of the '68. With that, Ford has created its newest iteration, the '08 Bullitt.
"It's much truer to the original image," says Doug Gaffka, chief of design on Mustang. "On the '68 [movie] car, they took off the badging, and that became the charm of the car, so we tried to build this Mustang identically. We wanted to take it to the level of the '68. We blacked-out the grille and added some brightwork with the trim. That helps it stand out."
Gaffka and his team fired on target, as this Bullitt clones the '68 with amazing accuracy. "The dash differentiates the interior from anything else on any Mustang," he says. "It [the engine-turned aluminum] is a very expensive process, but in terms of what it brings to the car, it's very important for the design.
"You have to pick and choose what you do so it doesn't become a retro rip-off. It has to have that reflective power to take you back but with modern enhancements. I found this one easier to do than the '01 because we had a better package to work with as far as what we could remove and what we could tool up differently."
Ford's '01 Bullitt packed a special intake, 265 hp, and a host of retro-styled options. The '08 more closely captures the essence, though, due to the resemblance in styling, although it packs every modern creature comfort and better performance than the '01 or 390-powered Stang could dream of.
Ford upped the performance in tried-and-true hot-rod fashion, with better intake and exhaust breathing. Bullitt for 2008 is rated at 315 hp, and those extra ponies (over the 300hp base GT) come by way of a fresh-air inlet with an open-element filter, improved exhaust, and a recalibrated computer tune. There's also 3.73 gearing in the beefed 8.8.