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A Mustang fit for a McQueen

Channel your inner Steve McQueen with the Mustang Bullitt

In 1968 Lieutenant Frank Bullitt, played by Steve McQueen, famously hurtled through the mean streets of San Francisco, hot on the heels of a dastardly, black Dodge Charger in the blockbuster film Bullitt. After the movie, the Mustang GT Fastback reached superstardom and Ford are now celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special, souped-up Mustang GT Bullitt.

The supremely cool Mustang is painted in the same Dark Highland Green as the movie car and they have completely de-badged the exterior, except for one logo at the back that simply says ‘Bullitt’. It was mentioned to me that it looked like a prop car from the Fast & Furious franchise and I’d have to agree, for a stock car it has an undeniably custom look. It has also been bestowed with a behemoth 5.0-litre, V8 engine that makes more noise than Croke Park on match day.

Mustangs have a reputation for being ‘widowmakers’, especially the quick ones and I learned rather rapidly, in some frosty conditions, that this car requires a soft touch and your utmost respect. The tail happy nature of this car is a big part of its charm and the limited slip differential will reel it in if you are being a little silly; however, on icy or frosty roads, it can quickly become a squeaky bum experience. The 5.0-litre is an unbridled piece of old-world magnificence as it relentlessly accelerates through every millimetre of the rev-range. I didn’t get anywhere close to testing its full capabilities, but if you had a track and were brave enough, I’m sure this car would perform magnificently, if you could hang on tight enough. 

The interior of the Mustang is a little cheap in places, but all-in-all I found it to be grand; the RECARO seats were wonderful and it is very spacious. The smorgasbord of track-derived settings, such as the g-meter, acceleration timer, performance shift indicator, and track mode were a hoot, not to mention the famous ‘line lock’, which locks the front wheels and allows you to smoke the rear tyres in preparation for a drag race. The car also has exhaust mode, which you can use to quieten or exaggerate your V8 bellow and control the V8 “blip” the car makes when you shift down the gears. This pared with the impressive Bang and Qlufsen sound system, with boot mounted subwoofer, makes the Bullitt its own travelling orchestra. 

Thanks to wonders of modern engineering the Bullitt stops quite well despite its weight and power, thanks to its Brembo brake set up. It also boasts safety features like pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection (automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning), adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. The model I tested also had the MagneRide Suspension Damping System at an additional cost of €3,030.

In 2018 I tested its smaller sibling, the 2.3-litre Ecoboost (turbo) for the Medical Independent and I noticed that Irish people love the Mustang, a point that was exaggerated in the louder and more brutish Bullitt. The general public couldn’t get enough of this car, happy faces, waves, and smiles that you wouldn’t see from the driver’s seat of an ice-cream van. In a previous review I likened the Ford Fiesta ST3 to a Jack Russell terrier “small and feisty, with the guts to back it up”. Well the Bullitt is more like riding around on a disgruntled Rottweiler. It looks very cool and it is very powerful; however, you are always acutely aware that it might eat you. Personally, despite the lack of impressive engine note, I preferred the €55,500, 317hp, 2.3-litre Ecoboost, both for its handling, which I found to be sharper and overall practicality, as I feel the cost of running the 450hp, 5.0-litre V8 and paying the €2,350 road tax to cover its 277g/km emissions may become a little tedious. 

The Bullitt starts at €73,092, however, the model I tested cost €78,842. You get a lot of power for that money and I love fast Fords, but I must admit, if it was my money I’d go for the more practical and less expensive Ecoboost, which I adore, and deal with people taunting me for being a realist instead of a purist.

TECH SPEC

Mustang BULLITT

5.0-Litre V8

Manual

453Hp

Band G – C02 Emissions 277g/km

Price from €73,092 plus additional options = €78,842

MECHANICAL

Active Valve Performance Exhaust System

BremboTM Six-Piston Front Brake Calipers with Larger Rotors

Gauge Pack

Heavy-duty Front Springs

Open Air Induction System

Red Painted Brake Calipers

Unique Chassis Tuning

Unique EPAS, ABS, and Stability Control Tuning

EXTERIOR

19” Five-Spoke Heritage Wheel (Bright-Machined Aluminium with High-gloss Black-painted pockets

Bright Beltline and Window Surround – Chrome

INTERIOR12” LCD Digital Instrument Cluster with MyColor™

BULLITTT™ IP Badge with Unique Chassis Number

BULLITT™ Logo on Driver Air Bag Cover

Green Accent Hand Stitching

Climate Controlled (Heated and Cooled; Driver and Front-Passenger only)

“Spindrift” Aluminium Instrument Panel

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