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Road Test: 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt

By - December 4, 2007 – 10:46 pmNo Comment | 5,540 views

When the S197 arrived on the scene in late 2004, Ford promised the Mustang faithful that a new version would arrive every year. The California Special made its debut in 2006, followed by the Shelby GT500 and Shelby GT in 2007. For 2008, Ford has announced the return of the Bullitt, which was last produced in 2001 and commemorates the 1968 movie “Bullitt” starring the legendary Steve McQueen who drove a 1968 Mustang GT390. The new Bullitt made its fitting introduction in downtown San Francisco, where we were lucky enough to get behind the wheel and get some driving impressions.

On first seeing the Bullitt, we were somewhat under whelmed. The Highland Green or optional black paint won’t be turning too many heads, and the stripped down look – no spoiler, and Ford or pony emblems – add to the simplistic design. A Bullitt logo on the faux gas cap in the rear, the solid black grille, and the 18-inch Charcoal Satin wheels are the only clues that this is not just another Mustang.

The interior has the same understated theme, although with a touch of well done retro style cues thrown in. The steering wheel has been upgraded to the leather-wrapped version from the GT500, and the seats have been re-bolstered to Shelby-spec as well. Aluminum trim can be found throughout the cabin, from the hand-machined swirl dash panel to the satin aluminum shift ball and aluminum pedals. The Bullitt logo on the steering wheel and the gun sights in the gauges remind the driver of the car’s heritage.

On starting up the car, one can hear the new exhaust system that Ford specifically tuned to match the movie car. A modified H-pipe and packed mufflers with 3.5-inch tips provide a wonderful sound under throttle, but the exhaust has not even a hint of drone while cruising. Driving the Bullitt gives a sense of sharpened and enhanced responses from almost every aspect of the car compared to the regular Mustang GT. The throttle, suspension, and brakes have a heightened feel. Power has been upgraded to 315 horsepower and 315 lb-ft torque via a cold air intake derived from the Ford Racing unit, and the PCM has been reprogrammed to allow for increased throttle response. Along with 3.73:1 gears, Ford claims that 0-60 mph times have dropped by three tenths of a second. Handling has improved as well, thanks to modified springs and shocks that provide a great compromise between performance and comfort. The Bullitt isn’t nearly as rough over bumps as a Shelby GT, but provides most of the increased handling capabilities. The Stickier BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDWS tires help keep the car planted as well.

We know that some Mustang enthusiasts will be disappointed with the Bullitt, but for the same reasons it will undoubtedly have its fans as well. The understated design will have some people wanting more, while others will love the undercover look. Either way, Ford designed the 2008 Bullitt true to the movie car. It’s a Mustang that Steve McQueen would drive – one that doesn’t proclaim its need for attention or acceptance from onlookers. Yes, Ford could have done more to add horsepower to the car, but we’re hoping that they are saving significant power upgrades for either a Mach 1 or Boss for 2009. Besides, we were happy with how balanced the Bullitt felt. No aspect of the car overwhelmed the other, and it is a car that you could truly be comfortable using as a daily driver. Its design might not appeal to everyone, but we’re sure Ford can find enough buyers to snatch up the limited production run of 7,700 cars. At a starting price of only $31,075, it’s quite a deal as well as well.

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