The bullitt bites back

by Andy Bryenton

The US historic motor vehicle registry calls it ‘significant based on its association with an important person and event in American history and culture’. In plain terms, that means that if you show a person of a certain age a dark green 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback ‘559 they will immediately think of actor Steve McQueen.

He’s a petrolhead icon, not only because of the movie, which co-starred that powerful Ford. In fact, kids these days will know his name as the one lent to animated racing car ‘Lightning’ from Disney Pixar’s cartoon series. Bullitt — in which Steve plays a hard-nosed crimefighter with plenty of skill behind the wheel — may be his most famous film.

In it, he races through San Francisco in a chase scene that’s been parodied and copied from 1968 to the present day, including in recent Marvel film Ant Man and the Wasp. Pursued by a classic Dodge, McQueen takes his Mustang to the limit — a cinematic vision, which saw buyers flooding Ford dealerships to get their hands on the superstar car.

Now it’s back. Ford’s latest edition Mustang is the world’s most popular sports car, and in association with Warner Brothers studios, they have given it the full Bullitt treatment 50 years on from that iconic chase scene. Buyers of the new Mustang Bullitt get more than just deep dark green paint and distinctive badging. The wizards in Ford’s engine works have delivered 480 horsepower from a rumbling 5 litre V8, along with 420 Nm of torque. To give this special commemorative edition a distinctive sound, they have also fitted quad exhausts with a special valve, tuned to open up and roar when your foot is planted deep in the carpet.

Of course, we didn’t really need more reasons to buy a Mustang. There’s something about this particular edition, which has all of the ‘must drive’ appeal of the old original.

For those cinephiles who want to drive in the smoking tyre tracks of a legend, what better excuse could you wish for than this?