Four decades after hitting the big screen the Ford Mustang Bullitt returns
When the S197 Mustang rolled out for the 2005 model year everyone just knew deep down that Ford would not be able to resist producing a special edition Bullitt based on their gorgeous new retro themed Mustang and for 2008 that’s exactly what they did. Two thousand eight was the fortieth anniversary of the movie Bullitt that featured the most iconic car chase scene ever filmed. The main character in the movie starring Steve McQueen drove a tastefully modified Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT390 2+2 fastback that roared like thunder and looked sinister. From the day that the movie Bullitt was released it cemented the reputations of both McQueen and the Mustang as the epitome of cool. No wonder Ford was eager to capture the essence of the ’68 Mustang from the movie in its latest Pony car.
Since 2008 was a milestone year since the introduction of the film it seemed fitting that Ford would mix-up some Highland Green paint and tweak Mustang to celebrate the occasion. Plus the fact that the last Bullitt inspired Mustang from 2001 was a great success probably made the decision to produce the 2008 version that much easier.
Stylists were very careful to show restraint and stay true to the original 1968 movie car. The less is more approach that had been used when styling the 2005 Mustang was taken to a new level with the Bullitt. A new black-mesh grille devoid of the chrome pony and large fog lamps was installed. The grille was accented by a satin aluminum strip that not only represented the chrome grille surround used on the 1968 Mustang GT390 in the movie but also helped frame the grille that would otherwise look like a black hole next to the proper Dark Highland Green or available Black paint.
Unique 18-inch cast-aluminum “Euroflange” wheels with charcoal satin finish spokes were installed. Adding to the low key look was Dark Argent Grey painted brake calipers that closely matched the wheel spokes. The wheels were wrapped in P235/50ZR18 BF Goodrich g-Ford T/A KDWS tires.
At the rear the 2008 Mustang Bullitt was devoid of a rear spoiler but did have a circular faux gas-cap badge that proclaimed the car to be a “Ford Bullitt”. As a matter of fact the 2008-2009 Bullitt was almost completely stripped of all its emblems save for the aforementioned rear emblem and tri-bar pony emblem on the centre caps of the wheels. The stylists were successful by creating a car that looked clean and subtle, yet sinister and mean and probably the best looking of all the 2005-2009 Mustangs.
Inside, the Bullitt was dressed in Charcoal Black leather and Satin metallic trim for visual interest. Real machined-turned aluminum instrument panel inserts brightened up the cabin and gave the Bullitt a wonderful 1960’s vibe. Satin aluminum bezels circled the gauges and air vents enhance the look even further. A machined aluminum shift ball replaced the standard leather wrapped gear knob in the Mustang GT and the shifter surround was decorated with a satin aluminum bezel of its own. Pedals wore race-inspired aluminum covers while the door sill plates were enhanced with metal pieces with “Bullitt” embossed into them. The seats were patterned after those in the Shelby GT500 and constructed using new, Ford-developed, soy-based foam that is friendlier to the environment. Finally, the steering wheel was redesigned and enhanced with palm grips and a “Bullitt” emblem on its centre hub.
Just like the 2001 Bullitt, the 2008’s engine was enhanced to be more responsive and produce more power. A new cold air intake system that came from Ford Racing was installed and was the first open-element air filter used in a factory produced fuel-injected Mustang. Engineers even went as far as to modify the hood liner in order to provide a full seal to the air box to ensure that the engine would be fed cool power-improving outside air. A heavier front crank damper was specified and allowed the engine to rev freer and redline at 6,500 rpm, 250 rpm higher than a stock Mustang GT.
To squeeze ever last bit of power and enhance the sound of the legendary Mustang V-8 the exhaust system was custom designed. A new H-pipe was specifically designed for the Bullitt along with all-new mufflers featuring large 3.5-inch chrome tips. While the system was tuned to minimize backpressure and maximize horsepower engineers also spent countless hours tuning the sound of the exhaust trying to mimic the sound of the 1968 movie car and getting the note just right. The result is Mustang with a throaty growl and aggressive bark when revved that will give any car lover a shiver down their spine when driven.
To fully take advantage of all the mechanical changes and give the Bullitt a little extra bite the engine calibration was designed to increase the throttle response of the electronic throttle control for a snappier feel on acceleration. The engine was further enhanced by adaptive spark control that was a new feature on the 2008 Mustang. While premium fuel was recommended in the Bullitt for optimum performance, regular fuel can be burned without damaging the engine since the adaptive spark ignition will adjust the spark accordingly. As a result of all the mechanical and electronic modifications the Bullitt produced 315 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm.
Gears were selected through a Tremec TR3650 five-speed manual transmission that was specially modified with a shift kit for quicker, more precise shifts. The rear end ratio was changed from the 3.31:1 that was standard in the GT to a more aggressive 3.73:1 final drive ratio that helped launch the Bullitt with more vigor. As a result of the horsepower and gearing changes the Bullitt would sprint to 60 miles an hour a few of tenths of a second quicker than a standard GT however just like the 2001 Bullitt the car felt much quicker by the seat of the pants.
The suspension of the 2008 Bullitt was also modified to provide more dynamic handling. The stock Mustang GT shocks and struts were swapped out for more aggressive units. Stiffer springs were installed that lowered the car by six millimeters, giving the Bullitt an aggressive stance. A tubular front strut tower brace that had been sourced from Ford Racing with a Bullitt Mustang ID plate and serial number was bolted in for better handling response by further stiffening the Mustang’s already rigid body structure.
The efforts of the power-train and chassis engineers paid off by nailing the driving dynamics almost perfectly. The engine was aggressive and felt powerful with quick response and willingness to rev quickly to redline on the tachometer. Steering was more responsive and the suspension was firmer without being jarring. It had better grip and while it wasn’t a lightweight it did respond to the driver’s inputs quickly and precisely all with a feel normally associated with higher priced sports machines. It felt quick and sharp and was a better balanced package than the highly vaunted, newly introduced Shelby GT500. With the more aggressive engine tuning giving the Bullitt the feel of more power and speed over the stock GT and the ride and handling sophistication that was well beyond the capabilities of any Mustang from just a few years earlier made the 2008-2009 Bullitt irresistable.
The results of all the tweaks and modifications of the engineers and stylists were well worth the effort. The 2008-2009 Mustang Bullitt not only looked amazing it was in my opinion the well rounded and best balanced of the performance orientated 2005-2009 Mustangs available. In total 5,808 Bullitts were produced in 2008 while another 816 were produced in 2009 making the S197 Bullitt an instant collectable and future classic.
The Bullitt package enhances the Mustang GT Premium package with the following:
Highland Green (unique to Bullitt) or Black exterior paint
Modified 18-inch micro machined Euro-flange Bullitt wheels and unique satin finish; c/o tri-bar pony wheel cap
Dark gray painted calipers
Modified badging with unique satin finish and Bullitt nomenclature
Aluminum accents c/o IUP door handles and premier trim pedal covers and shifter trim ring
Aluminum shifter ball unique to Bullitt
Revised cluster with gunsight graphics and unique font
Shelby GT500-style sport front seats and Shelby GT500-style steering wheel with Bullitt logo
Unique aluminum sill plate (scuff plate) with Bullitt logo
Serialization plate on strut tower brace
4.6-liter, 3-valve SOHC V-8; 315 horsepower
Tremec TR-3650 5-speed manual transmission
Signature Bullitt exhaust sound
New open-element cold air induction system & hood blanket with AIS seal
High performance calibration
Dual knock strategy enabling the vehicle to run on either regular unleaded or premium (for improved performance)
Crisper throttle response
Revised cam timing at peak power
Redline increased by 250 RPM to 6500 RPM
3.73:1 axle ratio
New unique strut tower brace
New Unique shock and strut tuning
Rear spring change that lowers Vehicle Ride Height by approximately 6 mm
Carbon metallic front brake pads
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 6 = Four decades after hitting the big screen and redefining the on-screen car chase, the Ford Mustang Bullitt returns to the streets in 2008, blending the best Mustang ever with the latest Ford Racing technology.
This modern classic delivers a balance of power and performance, thanks to special chassis and suspension tweaks as well as the 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque that Bullitt delivers through its 4.6-liter V-8 engine.
”The 2008 Mustang Bullitt embodies the true spirit of the 1968 movie car,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. ”Like the original Bullitt, this car dials the driving dynamics up a notch for Mustang enthusiasts who love the performance, handling and the sweet sound of Ford power that only Mustang can deliver.”
The 2008 Bullitt arrives in dealers early next year, with a starting MSRP of $31,075 (including destination and delivery) and limited production of 7,700 units.
The launch of the limited edition 2008 Mustang Bullitt coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of the Warner Bros. Pictures film that gave the original car its name. In the movie, legendary actor Steve McQueen drove a Dark Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT that gained cult status among Mustang enthusiasts, thanks to a seven-minute scene that film and car buffs believe defined the modern movie car chase.
Bullitt Chassis Delivers a Balance of Performance and Comfort
Ford engineers modified the 2008 Mustang Bullitt’s chassis and suspension to fine-tune handling and ensure the extra horsepower and torque from the 4.6-liter V-8 is put to good use. The live rear axle uses a unique 3.73:1 gear that helps launch the Bullitt with vigor.
Stock Mustang GT shocks and struts were swapped out for new units that allowed engineers to dial in a more aggressive driving dynamic while still maintaining the outstanding ride and balance of the base Mustang GT. A tower-to-tower brace designed specifically for the Bullitt lends additional torsional and lateral stiffness to the chassis for improved cornering and holds a unique serial number for each Bullitt.
“The 2008 Mustang Bullitt delivers balanced performance,” said Paul Randle, chief engineer. ”Comfort is not compromised for performance. Performance is on demand. You can easily take Bullitt from the track to the street and back onto the track with confidence.”
The brakes also have been improved versus the base Mustang GT’s. More aggressive front pads were developed specifically for Bullitt and improve fade resistance and pedal feel.
The 2008 Mustang Bullitt wears unique cast-aluminum Euroflange wheels, offering a modern twist on the original movie car. The Dark Argent Gray spokes feature a satin finish, while a bright-machined lip completes the look. Calipers are colored to match the wheel. The wheels are wrapped in the same P235/50ZR 18 BF Goodrich g-Force T/A KDWS tires used on Mustangs at the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah.
Powered By Ford Racing
Bullitt packs firepower under the hood. The 4.6-liter, 3-valve V-8 delivers 315 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm.
Engine calibration is designed to increase throttle response for a snappier acceleration feel. The redline has been boosted by 250 rpm to 6,500, with top-end speed bumped to 151 miles-per-hour. Gears are selected via a Tremac 5-speed manual transmission, and the shifter is topped with a polished aluminum shift ball designed specifically for the 2008 Bullitt.
The car features the first use of an open-element air filter in a factory-produced, fuel-injected Mustang. Inspired by Ford Racing, the intake is tucked neatly behind the driver side headlamp, mounted in an air box that was tooled up specifically for the Mustang. The hood liner was extensively modified to provide a full seal to the air box, ensuring that the engine is fed a steady diet of cooler air.
”Colder air reduces intake losses,” said Randle. ”The new cold-air intake has shown a reduction in rise over ambient temperature from 50 degrees down to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. That equates to more horsepower and more torque in all driving conditions.”
Engine performance is further enhanced through the use of an innovative adaptive spark ignition system, new for the 2008 Mustang.
The system can sense, within a few seconds, what type of fuel is being injected into the motor and adjusts the spark to provide maximum torque at any given speed – and as much as 10 pounds-feet more between 1,000 and 4,000 rpm.
Bullitt can run on either premium or regular fuel. Ford recommends premium fuel for optimum performance, but the adaptive spark ignition will adjust the spark to burn regular fuel without damaging the engine.
”With all the improvements we’ve made to the engine and the taller 3.73-to-1 rear gear, the Bullitt will plant you firmly in the driver’s seat when you stand on the throttle. We’ve seen zero to 60 times drop by up to three tenths of a second,” said Randle. ”There’s also plenty of power on tap at any speed. The car definitely feels lighter on its feet, and it is.”
The custom-designed exhaust system continues Mustang’s traditional use of a true dual-exhaust system with a new H-pipe specifically developed for Bullitt. The all-new mufflers, featuring larger 3.5-inch chrome tips (versus the 3-inch tips on the standard Mustang GT) are tuned to minimize backpressure, maximize horsepower and provide the Bullitt with its powerful exhaust note.
”We wanted to get the exhaust note as close to the original movie car as possible, so we based it on a digitally mastered DVD,” said Randle. ”We wanted something that would rumble your heart, literally buzz you – and the Bullitt team delivered.”
Capturing The Bullitt’s Undercover Look
The original 1968 Mustang’s stealth-like appearance wasn’t necessarily intentional. In typical Hollywood fashion, the movie crew removed all exterior badges and logos from the car – including the iconic pony badge on the grille.
The 2008 Mustang Bullitt calls back the original movie car in painstaking detail – right down to the dark green paint and lack of exterior badges, scoops and spoilers.
The only visible identification is the word Bullitt dropped into a gun-sight graphic in the center of the faux gas cap on the decklid.
“The 2008 Mustang Bullitt, like the movie car, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Doug Gaffka, chief designer. ”Mustang is – and always has been – such an icon that it’s recognizable without the badges. But Bullitt’s clean exterior doesn’t give away the Ford Racing-inspired power and performance lurking under its skin.”
The new Bullitt wears a close match to the movie car’s 1968 Highland Green paint, officially called Dark Highland Green. This distinctive color has only graced one other Mustang, the 2001 Mustang Bullitt. Gaffka assures Bullitt enthusiasts that the color will remain an exclusive Mustang Bullitt color. Non-purists can opt for only one other color – black.
The Mustang Bullitt uses the standard Mustang GT’s front fascia. A new black-mesh grille is devoid of the standard chrome pony and is accented by a satin aluminum strip that represents the chrome grille surround on the 1968 car. The rear fascia also is shared with the standard Mustang GT and houses Bullitt’s unique dual exhaust tips. Dark Argent Gray painted brake calipers closely match the wheel spokes, while staying true to the original.
Bullitt Interior Delivers Comfort With A Purpose
The interior is pure Mustang Bullitt, understated and dressed in Charcoal Black leather and Satin metallic trim. The centerpiece of the interior is the hand-machined, aluminum swirl dash panel appliqué.
”The machined appliqué differentiates the Bullitt from any other Mustang in the line-up,” said Gaffka. ”It’s also perfect for the Bullitt. The graphic presentation brings back the feel of the ’60s while still staying true to the Mustang’s modern interior design.”
Satin aluminum bezels circle the air vents and gauges, complementing a satin aluminum shift ball that replaces the standard leather-wrapped shifter on the Mustang GT. The pedals wear race-inspired aluminum covers that further reinforce Bullitt’s performance intentions.
The interior is graphically clean. The only identifying marks visible inside Bullitt are the logo and gun-sight graphic mounted in the center of the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the word Bullitt embossed into the metal sill plates.
The Dark Charcoal leather seats pick up the diamond perforation inserts from the base Mustang GT. The seats are patterned after those in the Shelby GT500 providing added lumbar and bolster support. The seats are constructed using the new soy-based foam developed by Ford and introduced on the 2008 Mustang. The soy foam, made up of 24 percent renewable content, is produced through a process that requires less energy and emits less CO2.
Specs & Performance
$31 075 USD
Aluminum V8 w/Ford Racing Cold Air Induction
SOHC, 3 Valves per Cylinder w/Variable Camshaft Timing
Electronic, Returnless & Sequential Ignition
4605 cc / 281 in³
90.2 mm / 3.55 in
90.0 mm / 3.54 in
234.9 kw / 315 bhp @ 6000 rpm
68.4 bhp per litre
198.36 bhp per tonne
440.64 nm / 325 ft lbs @ 4250 rpm
body / frame
Unit Steel w/Aluminum Hood
Euro-Flange Bullitt Wheels
Vented Discs w/Twin-Piston Calipers, ABS
f brake size
x 316 mm / x 12.4 in
Vented Discs w/Single-Piston Calipers, ABS
r brake size
x 300 mm / x 11.8 in
Rack & Pinion w/Power Assist
Reverse L MacPherson Struts w/Stabilizer Bar, Coil Springs, Tube Shocks
Live Axle w/Stabilizer Bar, Panhard Rod, Coil Springs Tube Shocks