2019 Mustang Bullitt: History in the remaking

The iconic 2019 Mustang Bullitt traces its roots to the legendary Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT fastback Steve McQueen thrashed in the action thriller “Bullitt” 50 years ago.

The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt is now in its third sequel and getting better with every evolution.

Ford has made a mini-franchise out of limited-edition Bullitt models that pay tribute to the fastback’s film debut in 1968 with Steve McQueen at the wheel. The now-legendary “Bullitt” film came out 50 years ago on Oct. 15.

I was in the theater then, a car-crazed 14-year-old. After that death-defying car chase with the bad guys in a 1968 Dodge Charger 440 Magnum, I pledged allegiance to the Mustang — a 390 GT 2+2 fastback.

The cabin is compact but quite functional, with much Bullitt jewelry.

The chase lasted just 10 minutes 53 seconds but lives in infamy, in part to Ford’s Bullitt Mustang marketing. Tug on your driving gloves for the 2019 version, which was preceded by movie-tribute models in 2001 and 2008.

Complete with classic cue ball shifter, the 2019 Bullitt builds on the latest Mustang GT Premium with Performance Package, but with a little more power.

The classic cue ball shifter.

Pricing starts at $47,495, including the $900 freight charge from Flat Rock, Mich. Exterior paint choices are limited to Shadow Black and the classic Dark Highland Green. And there are just three factory-installed options:

• Bullitt Electronics Package, $2,100, which includes navigation, driver memory seat and mirrors, upgraded sound system and Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert;
• MagneRide semi-active suspension, $1,695;
• Recaro black leather-trimmed seats, $1,595.

The Highland Green tester included all three options for a total of $52,885. The Recaro seats were supportive and not severely bolstered as to complicate easy entry or jean-scraping wear. But I’d also prefer a seat with lumbar adjustment; these are one size fits most.

The 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires (summer only) make every sports car better as does the MagneRide adaptive suspension upgrade (rather than the standard heavy-duty steel springs). It is not a harsh ride and, likely, helps the car adhere when pushed hard on lumpy surfaces.

Performance modes, including drift.

Other Bullitt features include a dashboard badge with chassis number, chrome accents around the grille and front windows, 19-inch five spoke heritage aluminum wheels, red painted Brembo brakes and its own black grille.

The leather-trimmed interior features unique green accent stitching on the dashboard, door panels, center console and seats.

Ford says it is a limited edition, but gives no tally of cars to be built. Possibly 1,968? Or as many as can be sold for $50,000.

The 480-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 was uprated with a performance open air intake, Mustang Shelby GT350 intake manifold, a larger 87-mm throttle body and a tweaked control module. Horsepower is 20-up from the Mustang GT and peak torque is the same at 420 foot-pounds but at 4,800 rpm vs 4,600 rpm. Its top speed of 163 mph is an 8-mph boost, for those who dare. But it is the bellow of the active black NitroPlate quad-tip exhaust that is the siren song. It is manufactured sound, but more super-stock than factory and never obnoxious.

The Brembo front brake discs are 15 inches. The rear brakes are 13 inches. Both are vented.

With a curb weight of 3,743 pounds, it’s good for 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, according to magazine results. Fuel economy numbers are 15 mpg city, 25 highway and 18 mpg. Premium fuel is required for peak power and mpgs.

The 19-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires also part of the Performance pack.

The only transmission is a sweet-shifting six-speed manual with a light clutch, smooth engagement and ideal gear ratios for creeping in traffic in second and third. A hill holder function of the ABS takes away the fret of uphill starts. I did not miss a shift or stall the car once in my week. And this is the same clutch and gearing in the basic Mustang GT performance pack. The only other difference is the shift knob.

You can “build” a comparably equipped Mustang GT for about a thousand-dollars less, but the Bullitt might have more collector value down the road because it is history in the remaking. Just imagine the damage McQueen could have done with this badass Bullitt.

The 480-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 was uprated with a performance open air intake, Mustang Shelby GT350 intake manifold, a larger 87-mm throttle body and a tweaked control module.

2019 Mustang Bullitt
Body style: compact, 4-passenger, rear-wheel drive coupe
Engine: 480-hp, 5.0-liter V-8; 420 lb.-ft. torque at 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual w/rev-matching downshifts
Fuel economy: 15/25/18 mpg city/hwy/combined; premium fuel

Bullitt features include a dashboard badge with chassis number.

SPECIFICATIONS
Fuel tank: 16 gal.
Trunk space: 13.5 cu. ft.
Front head/leg room: 37.6/45.1 in.
Rear head/leg room: 34.8/2913.5 in.
Length/wheelbase: 188.5/107.1 in.
Curb weight: 3,743 lbs.
Turning circle: NA ft.

PRICING
Base price: $47,495, including $900 freight charge; price as tested $52,885
Options on test vehicle: Bullitt Electronics Package, $2,100, which includes navigation, driver memory seats and mirrors, upgraded sound system and Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert; MagneRide semi-active suspension, $1,695; Recaro black leather-trimmed seats, $1,595.
Where assembled: Flat Rock, Mich.

Inside and out, the vehicle uses minimal badging; only the circular faux gas cap Bullitt logo on the rear center is visible on the exterior.

About Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard has been the automotive editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1992.

He drives nearly 200 vehicles a year for review, has attended several high-performance driving schools and a few off-road driving courses.

He attends many new-vehicle press introductions and schmoozes with auto-industry execs.

Mark Maynard