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Oct 13 2017

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2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt

If you haven’t seen the movie Bullitt, or it has been awhile since you experienced that now-famous seven-minute chase scene between Steve McQueen in his 1968 Ford Mustang GT and a Dodge Charger, then drop by your local video store for a refresher between now and January. That’s when Ford will start building a limited run of 2008 Mustang Bullitts for sale in the U.S. and Canada.

The 7700 Mustang Bullitts are expected to sell out within a month or two of going on sale—every 2001 Mustang Bullitt (5000 were built) was spoken for within about 60 days. The 2008 model, which is being serialized, will sell for $31,075. It will be formally unveiled at November’s L.A. auto show.

This latest take on the car made famous by the movie—or was it vice versa?—is deliberately understated. No shiny bits, scoops, or spoilers, and little badging or nomenclature. Like the original ’68 and the reprised 2001 Mustang Bullitt, the ’08 marks the return of the exclusive Dark Highland Green paint. The only other choice: black.

The Bullitt name appears in the metal sill plates, in the center of the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and in the gun-sight graphic centered in the faux gas cap on the decklid.

There’s Gotta Be a Pony in Here Somewhere

There is no pony in the grille, making it the only horseless Ford Mustang in recent history (we don’t include the Shelbys, with their snakes). The Bullitt uses a Mustang GT front fascia with a new black-mesh grille encircled by a satin aluminum strip, a nod to the chrome accent piece on the movie car. Film buffs may recall there was no pony in the grille in the movie and no exterior badging. Ford officials aren’t sure if it was stripped for the camera’s sake or if the Mustang arrived on set without a prancer up front.

The cast-aluminum Euro-Flange wheels of the 2008 model mimic the 14- and 15-inchers on the original, but modernization demanded an upgrade to 18-inchers on the new model. It wears the same P235/50-18 BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDWS tires that Ford Racing uses at its performance driving school at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. Continuing the muted theme, the brakes are done in dark gray with matching calipers.

The sedate interior is heavy on the machined-aluminum appliqué, with some satin aluminum finishes, but no chrome or brightwork. Mustang chief designer Doug Gaffka describes the car as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Deserving of More Grunt

That is partly homage to the calibration done to Ford’s 4.6-liter V-8 for the Bullitt, boosting it to 315 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 4250 rpm, says Derrick Kuzak, group vice-president of global product development. That is up from 300 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque in the Mustang GT, and within four horsepower of the more expensive Shelby GT. Ford says the redline has been boosted to 6500 rpm, an increase of 500. Power is directed via a five-speed manual transmission, with a custom-made, polished-aluminum shift ball. All the better to ram a Dodge Charger with.

Cam timing was revised; engineers went so far as to try to match the exhaust note to that of the Mustang in the film, and the rear springs were lowered to reduce the ride height—presumably most customers won’t become airborne while in hot pursuit.

It is Ford’s first car to receive a factory-made version of Ford Racing’s cold-air induction system, and the hoodliner was modified to make room behind the driver’s-side headlight for the airbox housing the intake. A new adaptive spark ignition was also designed to improve engine performance by improving torque as much as 10 pound-feet, Ford says, as the car can run on regular or premium fuel and the system adjusts the spark accordingly.

The chassis and the suspension were tweaked. The Bullitt borrows Ford Racing’s taller 3.73:1 limited-slip rear axle from the Shelby GT500 and swaps in new shocks and struts to better endure tears through the streets of San Francisco. A strut-tower brace was designed specifically for this limited-edition Mustang to increase stiffness. Handling is also aided by a 50/50 weight distribution.

Engineers say the changes should improve 0-to-60-mph times by 0.3 second, to the high-four-second range. Lt. Frank Bullitt would be pleased.

All Mustangs, All the Time

Mark Fields, who oversees Ford’s operations in the Americas, says the automaker is working to keep its promise of Mustang news every year for the faithful. By happy coincidence, news of the pending Bullitt comes on the 40th anniversary of the 1968 movie.

One added perk of the nondescript styling and return of the dark green exterior: Ford was able to test it at night, undetected by spy photographers or observant amateurs who likely thought they were passing a conventional Mustang in the dark—an all-guts, no-glory move McQueen would have applauded.

The Bullitt will be built with the rest of the Mustangs at Ford’s joint-venture corral with Mazda in Flat Rock, Michigan.

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