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Bitten by the Bullitt
Both Carroll Shelby and Steve McQueen have played significant roles in helping to shape the image of Ford products over the years. The difference is that Shelby was employed by Ford to do the job, while McQueen coincidentally starred in a movie where he drove a Ford Mustang.
Of course, it wasn’t just any old movie or any old Mustang. The high-speed pursuit sequence in Bullitt went on to be immortalised as arguably the best car chase ever filmed – for the soundtrack alone, it takes the biscuit as far as we’re concerned. Suddenly, everyone wanted a Highland Green Mustang Fastback in which to go tearing around the streets.
To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the movie’s debut, Ford is giving aspiring Frank Bullitts the opportunity to do just that – within legal speed limits, of course, Your Honour – with the introduction of a special anniversary Bullitt Mustang model, scheduled to go on sale in January 2008.
According to Paul Randle, Chief Engineer for the project, “The goal of the Mustang team was to give consumers a 21st Century version of the car that made history with Steve McQueen behind the wheel." Hence the aesthetics were key to the car. The Highland Green colour is the same, and the shifter, the IP dash panel, the seats, the pedals and the steering wheel all have the Bullitt look and feel. The other changes include upgrades to the ride and handling.
“We’re classing this as the best balanced Mustang ever. We really have put together a car that is a daily driver, but you can take it to a race track if you want. This configuration is as far as we can go maintaining the ‘daily driver’ element in terms of plushness and reduced harshness to the driver, but with the best handling characteristics that we can deliver on a race track.”
Randle says nothing was held back when it came to updating the powertrain, which can run on regular or high octane fuel.
"We’ve got the standard, 4.6 litre V8, 3-valve motor in there, but it has a new crank damper and revs higher. It has intelligent knock sensor strategy, which senses whether it’s running on regular or high octane fuel, and to complement that, we’ve fitted a whole new air intake system, so you get power or increased performance over all operating conditions, and a new exhaust system, tuned specifically for the vehicle."
With a base price of $31,075 (£14,797), this modern-day Bullitt Mustang has to be considered excellent value for potential British customers, even when you’ve factored in shipping, import duty and VAT.
Remaining true to the Bullitt ethos – Frank wasn’t a complicated kinda guy, after all – there are only a couple of options, in the form of HID headlights, interior ambient lighting and a navigation system (pre-programmed for San Francisco?). The car is being assembled as a limited edition model at Ford’s Flat Rock Michigan plant.
We’re now trying to work out how to stretch the contents of the DRC Review piggy bank sufficiently to put down a deposit on one…..
Story: Andy Kirk
Photos: Ford Motor Co