It’s not San Francisco, but we were able to spend a week driving the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt in and around Montreal! First unveiled this past January at the Detroit auto show, and made available for a first drive this past summer in San Francisco, no less, the Bullitt takes its name from the legendary film made in 1968, and which features one of the most famous car chase scenes in the history of cinema. At the helm of a dark green Mustang in chase of the bad guys was actor and racing fanatic Steve McQueen, who by the way did much of his own stunt driving.
Some quick math shows that 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Bullitt the film. To mark the occasion in its own way, Ford decided to produce a modernized version of the era’s Mustang GT. It’s now possible to acquire a specially designed modern-era Mustang that provides 20 added hp for a total of 480, as well as 420 lb-ft of torque, courtesy a 5.0L V8 – all this, for a few thousand dollars more than the regular Mustang.
So, the Bullitt edition runs on the same engine, with the same torque, as the Mustang GT. As I took my first spin in the car, my initial reaction was… slight disappointment. I would have like a turbocharger under the hood of this car that I had assumed was a beast. And then, I worked up the courage to press the accelerator down hard, and everything changed. In that moment I felt the car’s back end was trying to pass me!
I spent the rest of my week with the Bullitt trying in different ways to tame this wild horse! Each time I momentarily forgot I was riding an untamed steed, the traction-control system was there to bring me back in line. Example: taking a corner at 40 km/h, I got the bright idea of giving the right pedal a little added push; the car’s reaction was immediate, the rear end taking off at a gallop! Thank you traction control.
As bracing as experiences like that were, what struck and captivated me most during the test drive of the Bullitt was the roar coming from the exhaust system. There are very, very few cars on the market that could match the sound this beast produces. There are settings that allow you to adjust the intensity, starting at staggering and moving through earth-shattering to jaw-dropping. That would be the Track mode, which left me speechless.
There’s also, if you’re mindful of not sending your neighbours flying out of bed early in the morning, a Silent mode. One of these neighbours, after hearing me start the car and drive off for a few mornings in a row, came out and said to me, “I don’t know what this car is, and I nothing about cars, but what a sound it makes!” Every morning this got my heart rate going, every time I started her up.
Inside, Bullitt badging is speckled throughout the interior, highlighted by a special white cue-ball gear knob. The sport seats car comfortable and make it easy to maintain a good driving posture. It’s possible to upgrade to Recaro seats for an extra $1,800.
The 6-speed manual transmission works wonderfully, while the red Brembo brakes add a nice touch.
The car is available in its original 1968-vintage Highland Green Metallic colour, or in black for those who prefer… black. But really, why go for a Bullitt and not get it in that iconic green? I’m not even a big fan of that kind of forest green, but after a week with the Bullitt it felt like this was the naturally ordained colour for it. Then there was the day I was filling the gas tank and the attendant came out to congratulate me on my choice of colour for the car. In his opinion it was superb.
If you’re at all a fan of Mustangs, you owe it to yourself to try the Bullitt! I was totally under the spell of its look, its sound and the power it delivered, not to mention the overt homage it pays to a classic movie and an iconic actor. The Bullitt walks the walk, and it’s simply unique among modern-day muscle cars!