New Mustang Bullitt debuts on 50th anniversary of original

Ford held a news conference Sunday night to unveil the new Mustang Bullitt

Front view of the new 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt
2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt (Photo by Alan Oldfield)

DETRIOT, Mich. (WKBN) – Ford says “a star was reborn” Sunday night with the debut of the 2019 Mustang Bullitt.

The Mustang Bullitt, of course, is legendary among Ford fans for its role in the 1968 film “Bullitt” starring Steve McQueen — known as one of the great car-chase movies of all time.

Wowing the overflow crowd of journalists at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the new Bullitt was accompanied by the original Bullitt that Steve McQueen drove in the movie.

Arriving in the new Bullitt was McQueen’s granddaughter, and an actor herself, Molly McQueen. She told the story of finding her grandfather’s script from “Bullitt” along with handwritten notes, and she posed for pictures alongside the original Bullitt.

Ford says the new limited-edition Mustang Bullitt features a retuned 5.0-liter V8 engine that packs at least 475 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque and tops out at 163 mph.

SPECIAL EDITION

As a special edition model due out this summer, the all-new Mustang Bullitt is equipped with a manual transmission, and the gear shifter features a white cue ball shift knob as a nod to the original. The vehicle packages all Mustang GT Premium and Performance Package content into a vehicle that maintains the original Bullitt’s understated persona.

An active valve performance exhaust system is standard with new Black NitroPlate™ exhaust tips, and retuned to give the car a signature burble, as well as new Open Air Induction System and Shelby GT350 intake manifold with 87mm throttle bodies and powertrain control module calibration for optimal performance.

Other standard equipment includes a heated leather steering wheel and a 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument cluster, identical in function to the cluster introduced on the 2018 Mustang, but with a unique Bullitt welcome screen that starts in green with an image of the car rather than the pony.

“This new Bullitt is, as Steve McQueen was, effortlessly cool,” said Darrell Behmer, Mustang chief designer. “As a designer, it’s my favorite Mustang — devoid of stripes, spoilers and badges. It doesn’t need to scream about anything, it’s just cool.”

Exterior paint choices are limited to Shadow Black and the classic Dark Highland Green — as worn in the movie. Other features that pay tribute to the car McQueen drove are subtle chrome accents around the grille and front windows, classic torque thrust 19-inch aluminum wheels, red painted Brembo™ brakes and a unique black front grille.

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.

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

Aside from the two exterior paint choices, Mustang Bullitt buyers are limited to three factory-installed options:

  1. Bullitt Electronics Package: includes navigation, driver memory seats and mirrors, an upgraded sound system and a Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert (it alerts customers of vehicles detected in difficult-to-see places)
  2. MagneRide® semi-active suspension system (to optimize driving performance)
  3. RECARO® black leather-trimmed seats

“When making a Bullitt, there are certain things it absolutely must have,” said Carl Widmann, Mustang chief engineer. “It has to have the right attitude, it has to be unique in some way from a Mustang GT and more than anything, it has to be bad ass.”

THE ORIGINAL

Two identical 1968 Mustang GT fastbacks were used in the filming of the classic Warner Bros. movie “Bullitt” that debuted in theaters on Oct. 17, 1968. After filming, the cars went their separate ways.

The hero vehicle driven by McQueen was sold by Warner Bros. to a private buyer. The other vehicle — used in many of the jumps during the famous chase scene — was sent to a salvage yard.

The jumper vehicle resurfaced in Baja, California, in early 2017, while the hero vehicle was lost to history. Until now.

Sean Kiernan, owner of the hero vehicle, inherited the car in 2014 from his late father, Robert, who had purchased it in 1974. To fulfill his family’s lifelong dream, Sean contacted Ford, and the two parties worked together to reveal his movie star car alongside the all-new 2019 Mustang Bullitt at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

“You know, it was never our intention to keep this car a secret from everybody,” Sean said. “It just kind of happened with life. I’m just completely buzzing to join with Ford and the new Bullitt and show this car to the world on one of the biggest stages there is.”

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