This one had me the second the engine came to life — that gorgeous and distinct sound of a barely muffled American V8.
The sound track in this case came from a specially modified set of pipes attached to a 5.0-litre V8 under the hood of the 2019 Mustang Bullitt.
I was a Steve McQueen fan and truly enjoyed the classic movie this car guy made memorable. McQueen in a Mustang, chased a pair of villains in a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco for almost 10 minutes, in one of the more memorable chase scenes ever put on film.
McQueen was known then as the king of cool. In addition to his acting chops — he was the highest-paid actor in the 1970s — he was also a car guy. An accomplished racer on two and four wheels, he built quite a collection of rare, high-performance cars.
The 2019 Mustang Bullitt marks the 50th anniversary of the film. This is the third time Ford has produced tribute versions of the Mustang. The others came in 2001 and 2008.
Like McQueen, the 2019 Mustang Bullitt is cool — understated, yet extremely proficient. Dressed in classic Dark Highland Green and absent stripes, extraneous badging and spoilers, the Bullitt shows off the clean lines of the current Mustang design.
There is a slight bit of chrome around the unique black grill, front windows and on the faux fuel filler at the rear.
Red Brembo calipers clamping big ventilated discs, peak out behind classic 19-inch five spoke heritage “torque thrust” wheels, wrapped in performance summer rubber. To these eyes, it is the best-looking Mustang since the 1968 GT fastback used in the movie.
The interior is nicely-finished and well-equipped. Both major and minor controls are identical to the Mustang GT. But, the Bullitt gets a variety of unique details like a plaque on the dash with a production number, and a 30-cm, all-digital LCD instrument cluster that briefly flashes the Bullitt logo on startup. There is unique green accent stitching on the dashboard, door panels, centre console and leather seats.
A period correct white cue ball knob sits atop the shift lever for the six-speed manual gearbox with rev-matching programming. No automatic is offered.
The tester had the optional ($1,800) Recaro seats. They were not heated or power adjustable, and designed for slimmer builds than mine. Try before you buy.
That transmission is bolted to the rear of an upgraded version of the same V8 used in the Mustang GT. It gets an extra 20 horsepower thanks to a more open induction system, and recalibrated powertrain control module. The throws for the transmission are longer than expected, and rushing shifts can be frustrating.
The unique exhaust system contains an active valve system, and a quartet of Black NitroPlate exhaust tips.
You can control the sound from these pipes through Normal, Sport and Track modes. There is also a Quiet Start mode to prevent waking, and cheesing off the neighbours.
Acceleration is, well, let’s just call it impressive and enjoyable, especially in track mode. Among the variety of driving modes that adjust engine, steering and suspension response, is a drag-strip setting. Combined with launch control, and a line-lock feature, you can “warm up” the rear tires, and keep your local high-end tire dealer in business.
Ford of Canada has made MagneRide shocks a standard feature. It is an option south of the border. The slick Canadian-sourced system has the ability to change the viscosity of the fluid within the shock absorbers.
That fluid is filled with metal particles, the alignment of which, and thus the “thickness” of the fluid, is altered by a magnetic charge controlled by a computer and sensors that scan road conditions one thousand times every second.
Pretty sophisticated and part of reason the Bullitt is so capable on the track, and comfortable on the road. The other major factor is the independent rear suspension, which replaced the sold rear axle used from the days or the original mid-sixties Mustang until this most recent generation.
Nostalgia usually comes at a premium. In this case about $10,000 more than a Mustang GT in Premium trim. The extra style, and exclusivity will be worth it for collectors and Mustang enthusiasts.
- Model: 2019 Mustang Bullitt
- Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 475 horsepower, 430 lb.-ft. of torque
- Transmission: six-speed manual
- NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 16.1/9.9
- Length: 4,788 mm
- Width: 2,080 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,720 mm
- Weight: 1,995 kg
- Price: $57,525 base, $61,075 as tested, including freight
- Standard equipment: Blind spot and cross traffic alert systems, 12-speaker B&O premium sound system, Magna-Ride damping system, voice-activated touchscreen navigation system
- Options on test vehicle: Recaro leather seats, $1,800