Wes Duenkel
August 1, 2009

When personalizing a Mustang, one often equates "customizing" with "adding." Super-chargers, stereo equipment, rollcages--they're all added to give us more power, bigger sound, or enhanced safety. But when Jim Esson of Livonia, Michigan, began customizing his '01 Bullitt, he removed things. Jim's approach is similar to that of minimalist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whose designs are noted for their clean, elegant aesthetics. Constructed during the '40s and '50s utilizing modern materials and strict attention to detail, each architectural project conveyed Mies van der Rohe's motto, "Less is more."

That is, in fact, exactly how Jim describes his Bullitt. At first glance, it's a nice-looking Dark Highland Green Bullitt... really nice. Then admirers begin to notice the little things about the car--such as the shaved antenna and painted mirrors. The Cobra bumper cover smoothes out the nose, and the LeMans stripes accent the--oh, the hoodscoop is missing. The factory Bullitt smooth quarter trim, together with the shaved door handles, significantly cleans up the Mustang's waist. At this point, admirers hunt for other deletions and find that the Bullitt fuel door is swapped in favor of a standard-issue flapper, and SVT 10th Anniversary Cobra wheels replace the original Bullitt hoops. And where are those Bullitt emblems? All removed or swapped to running pony badges.

A duo of white stripes along the length of his car further set it apart from the Bullitt crowd and breaks up all the greenness. The stripes terminate at the third brake light, which Jim relocated from the edge of the decklid to the flat surface above the license plate recess. Rear lighting mods conclude with a set of '01 Cobra taillights.

For Jim, the only place "less is more" doesn't apply is the horsepower department. But of course, Jim wanted more grunt with less underhood clutter, so a Kenne Bell 1.7L blower kit fit the bill. The kit's monochromatic components blend beautifully with the car--so much that the kit looks like a factory option. After Livernois Motorsports finished the installation, its dyno recorded 359 rwhp at 5,800 rpm and 368 rwtq at 3,900 rpm. Then Jim added a Meziere electric water pump, Ford Racing shorty headers, ACCEL coils, and a Bassani X-style crossover and cats to boost the numbers a little more.

Jim's Bullitt has crossed the continent in several directions, traveling on two Hot Rod Power Tours, to the 2006 Bullitt Nationals in San Francisco, and to numerous Mustang Club of America events as far away as Kissimmee, Florida. Thus, the interior is mostly stock in the interest of long-distance comfort. A white-face gauge kit and billet aluminum trim rings spruce up the factory instrument cluster. The steering column sprouts an Auto Meter boost gauge that informs Jim of how much atmosphere he's shoving down the motor's throat. The "less" theme continues in the rear, as the seat has been deleted in favor of a package tray. Jim also wanted less noise, so Dynamat was installed under the carpet and in the trunk to attenuate the interior rumble from the Bullitt's factory axle-back exhaust system. What does the future hold for Jim's Bullitt? "I have a major hood modification in mind, which I think will be much neater than any aftermarket hood out there." Jim's got something up his sleeve, more or less.