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2008 Bullitt Mustang – Twisted Steel & Sex Appeal

There are only a few actors that I really remember from my childhood. W.C. Fields, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, and of course, ‘Mr. Cool’, Steve McQueen. I remember watching Steve in the first film ever produced with a truly spectacular car chase scene (aside from the Charger loosing something like 9 hub caps). I would crouch back in my seat as Lalo Schiffrin’s soundtrack built up the pre-chase tension, and adrenaline pumped through my veins as the driver of the Charger buckled up for safety (not that it would do him any good in the end – ed.) and then punches it through the intersection. From then on it was flat out, white knuckles, and gritting teeth. It was the first time during a movie I thought I could actually smell the oil, and rubber, and hear the unrestricted exhaust.

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There have only been a few movies since then that have even come close. The French Connection (not quite), Ronin (almost), and The Transporter (lacked realism). Nothing has surpassed the cool factor of Lieutenant Frank Bullitt in his 1968 Mustang GT 390 as he punches it through the streets of San Francisco double clutching each shift and chasing down that black ’68 Dodge Charger.


Since then the Mustang has gone through ups and downs. I think we’d all like to forget the Mustang II. But for better or worse the Ford Mustang hasn’t changed all that much over the years. Okay, there have been improvements (you get coils instead of leaves in the rear) but fundamentally it’s still a ‘meat and potatoes’ car. The idea and package are still the same; you get a live rear axle, big engine, and cool image at a price that won’t break the bank. That’s okay, I’m probably not effete enough for a Bentley Continental GTC and I don’t like asparagus or broccoli.

The 2008 Mustang Bullitt is a notch above the GT. Not just because retro is ‘cool’ or Dark Highland Green is the new silver, but because it is understated and packs a few additional goodies (not to mention I’ve always wanted to look like Steve McQueen and this is the closest I’ll ever get without plastic surgery). The only real identification on the exterior of the car is the “Bullitt” name in the center of the faux gas cap on the back. The rest of the vehicle has been debadged; no chrome ‘pony’ on the grille, no GT badge on the front quarters. The only other styling cue that might tip someone off is a satin aluminum strip acting as the ‘chrome grille surround on the original 1968 car’.
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Interior is pretty basic. Some noticeable differences are the upgraded steering wheel, shifter knob, and what looks like hand-machine ‘turned’ aluminum swirl dash panel applique’ (Sorry guy’s it’s not really aluminum).

More of an enthusiast’s model, the Bullitt Mustang may have the same 4.6L V8 but it cranks out 315HP with a boosted red-line (up to 6500). It’s equipped from the factory with a cold air intake, X-pipe, 3.5” chrome exhaust tips tuned to minimize backpressure and resonate some deep gurgling note on command. The 3.73 rear end helps the 5-spd manual come alive as you reach for the polished aluminum shifter (specifically designed for the Bullitt). Gosh that feels good.

These changes make the Bullitt Mustang feel a bit little tighter and a little faster than the standard GT. Let’s be honest, it’s not European or Japanese. Let me translate: its not refined or sophisticated. Albeit very satisfying for the money, it’s relatively crude, loud, and uncouth. But, therein lies much of its appeal – it’s a real man’s car befitting the likes of male icons like Steve McQueen.

The Bullitt Mustang may come with a shock tower brace, a little more horsepower, and different shocks and struts than the GT; but I still think a 350Z would be quicker around the track. Ride is smoother than you’d think…firm but not jarring. But I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it rides with sophistication. I can’t write anything home about the brakes… they’re adequate. And the clutch take up isn’t exactly ‘linear’. But that’s okay, it’s easy to drive this thing ‘fast’ on the street where most of you will be spending your time. The cool thing about Mustangs is that they go along with the thought process of visceral sensation beating out actual lap times anyway.

Driving the Bullitt Mustang is more like riding a Harley than a Honda CBR. Flying a P-51 rather than an ME262. It’s the Rocky Balboa and not the Tiger Woods of this segment or Trans Am racing rather than F1. Analyze it however you want but I think Ford did a pretty good job going after their demographic. This car really feels and looks like a modern 1968 Mustang.
Bullitt Mustang also offered in black (Don’t ask me why)
Slightly lower rear end and NO spoiler (very clean looking)
Ford only plans on producing 7700 units
$31,075 suggested MSRP (Don’t expect any discounts at the dealer)

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