• Base Price: $47,590
  • Engine: 5.0-liter V8, 480 horsepower, 420 pound-feet of torque
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Top Speed: 163 mph
  • Options: Recaro Seats, MangeRide semi-active suspension, Bullitt Electronics Package
  • Similar: Dodge Challenger SRT, Chevrolet Camaro SS

 

Ford’s Mustang is steeped in enough movie lore to fill Warner Bros. backlot. And while the Mustang has played a central role in some of the most celebrated car chases in cinema history, its role in 1968’s “Bullitt”, featuring Steve McQueen as officer Frank Bullitt, remains the Mustang’s most iconic role. The movie imbued Ford’s already popular pony car with “King of Cool” status, building a rabid fan base around the Dark Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 fastback that leapt over and careened around San Francisco’s streets in pursuit of the bad guys.

Ford first recognized the potential for a  “Bullitt”-themed Mustang in 2001, when it built 5,582 models based on the Mustang GT with a 4.6-liter V8. Every 2001 Bullitt included a 5-speed manual transmission with an aluminum shift knob, 17-inch Torque Thrust D-style wheels, a retuned suspension and exhaust system and improved V8 performance (265 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque). The same recipe returned for the 2008-2009 Bullitt Mustang, meaning a 4.6-liter V8 GT with slightly more power (now 315 hp and 325 lb-ft), slightly better handling and throatier exhaust tones, and subtle interior and exterior tweaks paying homage to cinema’s most famous car chase.

Well, this being America we can count on a couple things. First, if a little is good, more is better. Second, if a story is well received there has to be a sequel (or two…or eight). For Mustang that means another Dark Highland Green Bullitt is hitting showrooms as you read this. Back for the 2019 and 2020 model years, you can now buy the first Mustang Bullitt with an independent rear suspension, a 6-speed manual transmission and a 5.0-liter V8. It’s not just the gear count and engine displacement that grew for the new Bullitt. Engine power catapults to 480 (20 more than a standard GT) while torque comes in at a healthy 420 lb-ft. Engine tweaks include a higher redline (over 7,000 rpm) and a higher top speed (163 mph) compared to the standard 2019 Mustang GT.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2019

The increased performance comes from using an open-air induction system mated to the current Shelby GT350 intake manifold. An active valve performance exhaust system with NitroPlate black exhaust tips lets everyone know your Mustang isn’t just a de-badged GT. Multiple driver settings let the exhaust go from demur to demonic, meaning you can scare small children and the elderly when out cruising without annoying your neighbors when you come home after midnight. The Mustang Bullitt’s chief engineer, Carl Widmann, told us they wanted the engine to keep making more power all the way to its 7000-plus rpm redline, giving drivers a reason to wind it out and hear that killer exhaust note. After several hours behind the wheel we can confirm for Mr. Widmann: mission accomplished!

The high-rev engine tuning hasn’t hurt the Bullitt’s mid-range performance. Driving the Mustang over San Francisco’s famed hills proved effortless, as did loafing along California’s 5 freeway between S.F. and LA. Both 5th and 6th gears are overdrives, but the Bullitt will easily accelerate with light throttle, even at 75 mph with the tachometer below 2,000 rpm. When more thrust was required an automatically rev-matched downshift, courtesy of the Bullitt’s 6-speed wearing a classic cue ball shifter, allowed for quick, low-stress passing maneuvers. 

More: 2019 Car Reviews: First takes on new models

Because the Bullitt is based off a 2019 Mustang GT equipped with a Performance Package there was no need to retune the suspension or brakes. Both work extremely well on the Bullitt, with the red six-piston Brembo calipers and performance-calibrated springs and shocks giving the Bullitt steadfast confidence along narrow, twisting roads. The standard 19-inch wheels were designed by Ford from scratch to emulate the original Bullitt’s Torque Thrust D style. They look okay, though their gloss black paint strikes us as a nod to modern-day wheel-fashion fads (a move the original Frank Bullitt would never succumb to…).

Other exterior upgrades include a circular faux gas cap with Bullitt logo on the rear deck and chrome accents around the black honeycomb grille and side windows. Beyond the cue ball shifter the cabin features a Bullitt steering wheel logo, a 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument cluster with a Bullitt-specific welcome screen and green accent stitching. Options including either Dark Highland Green or Shadow Black exterior paint, Recaro front seats, a MagneRide semi-active suspension system and a Bullitt Electronics Package with navigation, driver’s seat memory, B&O premium audio and blind spot and cross-traffic alert. The Mustang Bullitt’s starting price is $47,590 including destination charge, but if you check every option box it will cost you $52,980.

For that price you’re getting the third edition of Ford’s limited-production Mustang Bullitt, a version that has traditionally held up well in terms of resale value versus standard GTs. Ford representatives told us Bullitt allocation, just like all modern Mustangs, is going worldwide this time around. And, also like every modern Mustang, they’re seeing massive Bullitt demand from foreign lands. If you’re looking to express your inner King of Cool in automotive form you probably shouldn’t dally.  

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