By Jonathan Lamas, About.com Guide
Photo © Ford Motor Company
1. Undercover Appeal – Hollywood pared down the original 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 to give the car a stealthy appearance for film, removing the driving lights, running pony grille emblem, Mustang lettering and even the GT badges. The 2008 Mustang Bullitt recalls the movie car – right down to the Dark Highland Green paint and lack of exterior badges, scoops and spoilers. The only visible identification is the word “Bullitt” dropped into a gun-sight graphic in the center of the decklid. A new black-mesh grille on the 2008 Bullitt is devoid of the standard chrome pony and is accented by a satin aluminum strip that represents the chrome grille surround on the 1968 car.
2. Great Performances – For his role as Frank Bullitt, Steve McQueen was voted “World Film Favorite” by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But 1968 wasn't the last time the legendary actor delivered on-screen thrills in a Ford Mustang. Thanks to the magic of special effects, audiences watched McQueen climb into a 2005 Mustang GT and race around a unique cornfield road course built especially for the duo by a farmer in a Ford ad entitled Cornfield. The commercial premiered in movie theatres nationwide in fall 2004 before it appeared on television. Fans can still check it out on www.youtube.com
3. Tale of Two Cars – Two 1968 Mustang GTs with 390 cubic-inch engines were purchased and modified for the making of Bullitt. One was badly damaged by the time shooting ended and was destroyed. In 1972, the remaining car was purchased by its current owner, who bought it under the stipulation that his name remain anonymous. The car was kept at his father's garage until 1990, when it was moved to a horse farm in the Midwest after a Mustang enthusiast took spy photos. Today, the location of the car remains a mystery. Some say the owner moved that car again to his house where it sits, unrestored, in the garage next to his Porsche.
4. Sweet Sounds – An emphasis on realism drove the chase scene in Bullitt to movie greatness – right down to the soundtrack. Rather than opting for high-powered music to support the heart-racing action, Bullitt's 10-minute car chase showcased the throaty roar of the engine, frenetic downshifting and squealing tires. The natural sound of this quintessential action scene helped earn the film an Academy Award® nomination for Best Sound.
Featuring the latest from Ford Racing Technology, the 2008 Bullitt's exhaust note is as close to the original movie car as possible. Ford engineers based the new car's rumbling sound quality on a digitally remastered DVD. The custom-designed dual exhaust system features a new H-pipe specifically developed for Bullitt. If theme music is warranted, drivers can crank up the Bullitt's Shaker 500 Audio System.
5. Safety First – Steve McQueen (and stunt drivers) buckled up before racing the Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390, specially modified to run the bad guys off the road, at speeds of up to 110 mph along the streets of San Francisco. Concerned residents along the film route reportedly called the San Francisco Police Department and City Hall during filming of the now-legendary jump sequence. Some say the San Francisco authorities were led to believe the cars wouldn't exceed speeds of 35 mph.
Designed for performance, the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt delivers the thrill of the original – along with a host of features scarcely imagined in 1968. Standard content includes an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with traction control, seat-mounted side air bags, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), Ford's Personal Safety System®, SecuriLock® Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS); and the company's Tire Pressure Monitoring System. (Ford advises consumers to buckle up, drive safely and obey posted speed limits.)6. Sport-tuned – Bullitt's 390 cubic-inch V-8 introduced big-block performance to the Mustang. For 2008, Ford dials the driving dynamics up a notch for Mustang enthusiasts. Ford engineers modified the 2008 Mustang Bullitt's chassis and suspension to fine-tune handling and ensure the extra horsepower and torque from the 4.6-liter V-8 is put to good use. The live rear axle uses a 3.73:1 gear that helps launch the Bullitt with vigor.
Stock Mustang GT shocks and struts were swapped out for new units that allowed engineers to dial in a more aggressive driving dynamic and deliver the most balanced Mustang yet. A tower-to-tower brace designed specifically for the Bullitt lends additional torsional and lateral stiffness to the chassis for improved cornering and holds a unique serial number for each Bullitt. The brakes also have been improved versus the base Mustang GT's. More aggressive front pads were developed specifically for Bullitt and improve fade resistance and pedal feel.
7. Insider's View – Driver's-view shots let audiences in on the thrill of the chase in Bullitt, along with giving them a glimpse of the Mustang GT's spartan, no-nonsense interior. The 2008 Mustang Bullitt maintains an understated mystique, with a graphically clean interior, sporting charcoal black leather and race-inspired accents – including a hand-machined, aluminum swirl dash panel appliqué. Consumers also can set the mood with available ambient lighting.
8. Did You See That? – The chase scene in Bullitt took more than two weeks to film, resulting in 9 minutes and 42 seconds of edited footage that helped Frank P. Keller earn an Academy Award® for Film Editing. Filming in a working city, with locations spread out over a considerable part of San Francisco, helped generate a number of continuity lapses that are either overlooked or celebrated by Bullitt aficionados. A few disjointed street sequences emerge when the footage from certain streets is reused. (Audiences are tipped off when a green Volkswagen, yellow cab and white Firebird reappear several times.) The Dodge Charger driven by the villains loses no fewer than eight hubcaps during the chase. Still, for many, no other chase scene before or since has come close to equaling it.
9. Clean Machine – 1968 was the first year in which vehicle emissions were regulated by the U.S. federal government but cars still burned leaded fuel and catalytic converters were still years away. All 1968 Mustang engines incorporated an exhaust emission control system. Today's vehicles produce 99 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than cars in the 1970s. The 2008 Mustang Bullitt's 4.6-liter three-valve engine delivers low emissions and is in compliance with MuCalifornia's stringent Low Emissions Vehicle II (LEV II) standard.
10. Need for Speed – Then: The original 1968 Mustang GT 390 boasted a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 15.2 seconds at 94.0 mph, according to Motor Trend. Now: Ford engineers modified the 2008 Mustang Bullitt's chassis and suspension to fine-tune handling and ensure the extra horsepower and torque from the 4.6-liter V-8 is put to good use. Motor Trend clocks the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt at 5 seconds even for 0-60, with a quarter-mile time of 13.7 seconds at 102.7 mph.Source: Ford Motor Company