2019 Ford Mus­tang Bul­litt

Motor Trend - - Contents - Scott Evans

The orig­i­nal wasn’t per­fect, and nei­ther is the new one.

Same goes for the han­dling. It’s func­tion­ally a GT with Miche­lin Pilot Sport 4s fit­ted stan­dard, so it re­tains many of the han­dling frus­tra­tions. We know Ford can make a Mus­tang han­dle like a su­per­car, but ap­par­ently only if it says Shelby on it. As is, the Bul­litt gets twitchy when you push it past 75 per­cent of its ca­pa­bil­ity. The stiff springs and limited travel of the sus­pen­sion, par­tic­u­larly in the rear, re­sult in a lot of in­stances of the tire los­ing con­tact with the pave­ment. Any kind of bump in the road is enough to make it skip, and if the bump is in a turn, it’ll skip to the side, too. You couldn’t be blamed for think­ing Ford maybe retro­fit a live axle to make this trib­ute the real deal.

Per­spec­tive, though, can be as im­por­tant to cars as it is to movie mak­ing. Let’s face it, nei­ther Bul­litt’s Mus­tang nor the bad guys’ Charger han­dled par­tic­u­larly well even for the day, and that’s part of what made the iconic chase great fun to watch. Ford’s built you ex­actly what you need to re-cre­ate that chase.

If you and your film school friends are plan­ning a shot-for-shot re­make of the chase, you’re set up for suc­cess. The PS4 tires are strangely short on grip for Miche­lin per­for­mance tires, and the ABS has a hair trig­ger Frank Bul­litt would be proud of. So over­cook­ing that hard right and hav­ing to peel out in re­verse to make a mi­nor three-point turn will be the eas­i­est scene you shoot. Good thing, be­cause you’ll only get one take. The com­puter al­lowed us one good burnout be­fore throw­ing a warn­ing about both ped­als be­ing pressed and cut­ting power, and line lock doesn’t work in re­verse.

You won’t even need to rere­cord sound ef­fects later; those Miche­lins start to howl un­der mod­er­ately hard cor­ner­ing, and the ex­haust sounds per­fect. It’s like hav­ing your own Fo­ley artist in the trunk.

Re­ally, the only thing miss­ing is the body roll. Bul­litt’s car rode high and leaned a lot in cor­ners, and this trib­ute car doesn’t do ei­ther. Movie ac­cu­racy aside, it re­ally could stand to ride softer, as even with the op­tional adap­tive mag­netic shocks it’s quite stiff over the bumps and in the holes. No need for that if it isn’t go­ing to cor­ner like a GT350R any­way.

By the same to­ken, I’d skip the op­tional Re­caro race buck­ets and get the stan­dard seats, which are far more com­fort­able when you’re cruis­ing around San Fran­cisco chas­ing down leads, not Charg­ers. Ol’ Frank got by with a lap belt and no head­rests; you’ll be fine.

I’m more con­flicted on the dig­i­tal dash. I love the graph­ics, but it’s mad­den­ingly frus­trat­ing to use with myr­iad con­trols on the steer­ing wheel and the cen­ter stack and menus upon menus. Worse is the way it teases you with the il­lu­sion of cus­tomiz­abil­ity when you’re ac­tu­ally very limited in which set­tings you can al­ter and which mode you’re al­lowed to al­ter them in. I think the ana­log clus­ter is pe­riod cor­rect, but the screen is stan­dard, so you’ll just have to deal with its ec­cen­tric­i­ties.

If you pre­fer jump­ing cars to jump­ing through hoops, I’d strongly rec­om­mend a bit of cus­tom re­in­force­ment un­der the car. Bul­litt’s car re­ceived stiffer springs and welded re­in­force­ments around the shock tow­ers, plus braces to tie them to­gether front and rear. The new car is a mil­lion times more rigid than the ’68, but it’s got a lot less ground clear­ance and sus­pen­sion travel, not to men­tion worse ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles. Frank got three jumps down Tay­lor Street un­scathed. You’ll get one.

Un­like the movie car, though, you won’t need to hop up the en­gine. The new Bul­litt gets the GT350’S in­take man­i­fold and throt­tle body along with an open air box. That and some com­puter tweak­ing nets you 20 ex­tra horse­power, though with nearly 500 on tap you won’t re­ally no­tice the dif­fer­ence all the way up at the 7,000rpm power peak (400 shy of red­line). Ford even played with the vari­able cam tim­ing to give it a lopey mus­cle car idle.

Ford’s de­liv­ered just about the per­fect mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Bul­litt, then, so all you need now is a black Charger, a black turtle­neck, some bad guys, and a gas sta­tion you can blow up. A green Beetle and tweed jacket wouldn’t hurt, ei­ther, and you should be able to swing them with all the money you’ll save on Dodge hub­caps. I sug­gest you get on it quick, though, partly be­cause VW is li­able to can­cel the Beetle any minute now (for­get about get­ting a white Fire­bird) and partly be­cause the movie cel­e­brates its 50th an­niver­sary this year, so the num­ber of peo­ple who rec­og­nize the Mus­tang Bul­litt from the movie ver­sus those who re­mem­ber it from the pre­vi­ous Mus­tang Bul­litt spe­cial edi­tion cars is quickly shift­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion. n

AU­THEN­TI­CALLY IN­AU­THEN­TIC Bul­litt’s car wore real Amer­i­can Rac­ing Torq Thrust wheels, but this new car doesn’t. The cen­ter caps are a dead give­away.

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