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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Jun 18, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Even today, it is one of the greatest car chase scenes of all time. Bullitt - the movie, and the Mustang from the movie, came out 40 years ago. With Ford's 2008 retro-futurism styling, middle age never looked so good! This Ford Mustang Bullitt has bite beyond its bark. It's a true visceral driving experience with a great balance of power, handling, comfort, convenience and style.

The heart of this powerful pony car beats strongly with the venerable three-valve, 4.6 liter V8 pumping out 315 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. But there's more to this engine and its growling exhaust than meets the ear. During the namesake movie's sensational chase scene, all you heard was the roar of the engine and squealing tires. This earned the film an Academy Award® nomination for Best Sound. Well, the engineers at Ford took such a liking to the sound that they used a digitally re-mastered DVD to try to match the sound of the new Bullitt to the one in the movie. They used a special H-pipe in the dual exhaust to fine-tune the music, err, exhaust. It sounds great, and fortunately it's not too intrusive during highway driving. The Bullitt launches like its namesake reference, thanks in part to 325 pound-feet of torque and a 3.73:1 rear end ratio. Pop the hood and you'll be pleased with the functional eye candy of the Ford Racing inspired cold air intake. This system is mounted in a specially fabricated airbox with extensive modifications to the hood liner to perfect the seal. It helps to reduce the rise over ambient air temperature from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 17 degrees. I know what you're thinking - I bet it only runs on premium. Think again. Ford's adaptive spark ignition system can sense what kind of fuel is being used and will adjust the timing as necessary to improve performance over regular gasoline. Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go? If you opt for premium, you'll benefit from an extra 10 pound-feet of torque between 1,000 and 4,000 rpm. Using regular gas (every little bit of savings helps) will not harm the engine, but if you want the ultimate performance, pay up. By the way, top speed is 151 mph!

Most cars available today have automatic transmissions that make it easy to multi-task on the congested freeways of Los Angeles. Not here. This is a good old fashioned Tremec five-speed manual that puts the fun back into driving. Yeah, the throws are a bit long from gear to gear, but that really doesn't seem out of place in this car. The best part is that you get to play with the torque of the throaty V8 whenever and however you choose. The Bullitt lopes along at about 2,200 rpm in fifth at 65 mph yet still has enough torque to keep up with traffic. If you want to leave the traffic behind, just drop down a couple or three gears and accelerate as hard as you want while you say 'later' to the masses. Jump off the freeway and onto some twisty bits and you'll find that the Bullitt is planted firmly to the ground with minimal body roll and great gobs of grip. You'll find yourself constantly wanting other drivers to get the heck outta' your way on freeway interchanges so you can have a little fun. The flat confidence-inspiring cornering is helped no doubt by the wide 235/50ZR18 BFGoodrich T/A g-Force KDWS tires. Incidentally, these are the same tires used at the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. The suspension has been re-worked from a standard Mustang GT to include a different shock absorber set up all around and an individually numbered strut tower brace under the hood to help keep the chassis rigid and the suspension moving how it's supposed to. I find the ride to be firm yet comfortable on most road surfaces. It only gets uncomfortable if you get onto a stretch of railroad tracks and pot holes. On center steering feel is good, though light, and responds quickly to input.

The exterior styling is superb - understated while being bold and aggressive. I love the stealth Dark Highland Green paint job and the movie matching Bullitt grey wheels. Perhaps the best part is the clean, uncluttered look. Ford removed any reference to the blue oval, the chrome pony in the grille and any other identifying exterior marks except for a tasteful faux gas cap in the rear with a gun-sight finish and the word Bullitt in the middle. That same gun-sight Bullitt look is repeated on the steering wheel and complements the Bullitt lettering on the metal front sill plates. I was particularly impressed with the hand swirl-finished aluminum dashboard. It's modern yet classically retro. The seats are similar to the ones found in the Shelby GT500 with added lumbar and side bolster support. They look fantastic in dark charcoal black leather with diamond perforations in the center sections. They are extremely comfortable even on long drives. The only complaint that my somewhat vertically challenged (five foot three and a half inches) passenger has about the passenger seat is that she sits so low it's hard to see over the dashboard and tall hood. Not an issue with the driver's seat which can be raised as needed. Rear seats on the other hand are primarily for grocery bags and back packs. They do have the LATCH system for child seats but if you're a regular sized adult, you won't be comfortable. They're only good for passengers that are vertically challenged and if the trip is short. Yes, I fit back there (five foot nine, 150 pounds), but my knees are pressed right up against the driver's seat where I have it placed. On a positive note the rear seats have a 50/50 split fold down feature which adds plenty of cargo space to the trunk. The trunk is a decent size however there is a rise in the floor towards the rear seat which limits what size suitcases or other cargo you can carry.

This Mustang has gimmicky mood lighting in the cup holder and under the dash. You can change the light colors from blue to green and so on. What's the point? There is no need for that light and it really seems incongruous in this vehicle. Of course on-board navigation wasn't even thought of when the original was produced in 1968 but somehow it doesn't seem out of place here. The navigation, system (like most today) is pretty good consisting of a touch screen to help expedite your commands. The problem with the screen is that it sits too low which takes your eyes off of the road. To add to the problem, this is also the same screen where you select your radio stations and other media controls. Ford does however give you the option of TripTunesâ„¢ Advance which allows you to seamlessly hook up your iPod® to the sound system. The Monroney label says that the Bullitt will get 15 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. My combination of city and highway driving equates with the highway only number. In fact for one stretch of highway after re-setting the trip computer it indicated an average of 29 mpg. The bottom line? I love it. It's fun. And even with the price of gas, it's still semi-economical depending on how you drive. Besides, when it comes time for a track day, you're all set. Ford has planned a limited production run of 7,700 units so check your local dealer for availability.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT With the new Bullitt, you get power, style, comfort and if you can keep your foot out of it, fuel economy. Go ahead and bite the Bullitt. For more information about Ford products, go to  More car reviews from Larry Mason can be found at

SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt Price: $27,020.00 base/$34,705.00 as tested EPA mileage: 15mpg/city, 23mpg/highway Engine type: 4.6 liter 3V OHC V8 Horsepower: 315 hp at 6,000 rpm Torque: 325 lb.ft. at 4,250 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel-drive Transmission type: 5-speed manual Front suspension: Reverse L Independent MacPherson strut Rear suspension: Three link solid axle with coil springs Wheels and tires: 18X8.5 in. Aluminum alloy Bullitt wheels 235/50ZR18 BF Goodrich T/A g-Force KDWS tires Brakes: Front:12.4 in. x 1.2 in. vented discs Rear: 11.2 in. x 0.75 in. vented discs Overall length: 188.0 in. Overall width: 73.9 in. Total height: 55.3 in. Curb weight: 3,540

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