Ford’s working-class hero left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of the United States in the ’60s, due at least in part to its starring role in the crime thriller Bullitt.
Understandably, the Detroit firm has been playing off the connection for decades, releasing special editions celebrating the film in 2001 and ’08.
With the seminal chase scene now in its 50th year – and an original movie car having recently resurfaced – it’s fitting that the Blue Oval has graced the latest iteration of its fastback with a Dark Highland Green makeover.
That news is of particular interest to British buyers who, having long been overlooked, are now able to order a Bullitt Mustang in right-hand drive for the first time in the model’s history.
The most obvious links to Frank Bullitt’s car are stylistic, starting with the stunning paintwork and menacing debadged and blacked-out front grille – a sinister vision straight from the rear-view mirror of a black Dodge Charger.
The front splitter and rear badging differ from the standard model, as do the wheels – gloss-black 19in five-spokes that echo the Torq Thrusts of the original.
The theme continues inside, with the addition of a white ‘cue ball’ gearknob for the six-speed manual ’box.
From there, the Bullitt goes from homage to well-appointed GT, ticking almost every box on the Mustang option list.
Thankfully, the changes aren’t just cosmetic: the 5-litre V8 has been breathed on by Ford Performance, taking power up to 453bhp thanks to bigger throttle bodies, a revised exhaust and a GT350 induction system, matched to 390lb ft of torque.
That makes the Ford good for 163mph, with 0-62mph in just 4.6 secs. Uprated front springs, a beefed-up anti-roll bar and Brembo six-pot calipers are also useful improvements.
A low production run, coupled with resurging interest in the film, will no doubt contribute to the Bullitt’s classic credentials.
But what really seals the deal is the leap forward the model has taken from the point-and-squirt live-axle muscle car of previous generations to a well-rounded GT with dynamics that Europeans can appreciate. In short, it goes round corners.
That’s not to say the Mustang has lost any of its magic. Firing up the V8 results in a purposeful growl from the quad tailpipes – the sort of noise that makes people stop and stare.
Plant the throttle and it really hollers, spinning the wheels with ease in the wet and launching with blistering pace in the dry.
Long gearing, prodigious torque and a screamer of an engine that produces peak power at 7250rpm make the Mustang a real jack of all trades: lazy when you need it to be, and devastatingly quick when you don’t.
There’s only one fly in the ointment: every car from the UK’s allocation has already been accounted for…
Images: John Bradshaw/Olgun Kordal
- Engine 5038cc V8; 453bhp @ 7250rpm; 390lb ft @ 1750rpm
- Transmission six-speed manual, RWD
- Mpg 22.8
- 0-62mph 4.6 secs
- Top speed 163mph
- Price £47,545