Fu­ture clas­sic Bul­litt Mus­tang

The beauty of this V8-pow­ered Steve Mcqueen trib­ute coupé is more than skin deep

Classic Sports Car - - Contents - WORDS GREG MACLEMAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JOHN BRAD­SHAW

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…

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 FACTFILE

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