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Ford Mustang Bullitt ramps up the cool factor. Image by Ford.

Ford Mustang Bullitt ramps up the cool factor
Special edition Mustang marks 50th anniversary of the movie Bullitt, and leads Ford's 2018 NAIAS stars.
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What's all this about?

This is the 2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt, a factory-built special edition that celebrates one of the most famous car chases that has ever been committed to celluloid. Few can forget seeing a Ford Mustang GT Fastback versus an evil-looking Dodge Charger racing around the hilly streets of San Francisco in 1968 cop flick Bullitt, of course with Mr Cool himself, Steve McQueen at the wheel of the Ford. Some years back, Ford did a UK TV advert for the Puma which superimposed footage of McQueen from the film to make it looks like he was driving the diddy coupe, but now Ford has gone one step further with possibly the coolest announcement at a motor show for some time.

Oh, what has it done?

Ford has managed to find the original 1968 Mustang GT from the film - the one McQueen drove in the film, albeit not the one used for most of the stunts in the wild car chase sequence - after 40 years where most people thought it was lost forever. Ford pulled this stunt off at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit at the start of January.

Umm... why did Ford bring the 1968 Mustang back into public conscience?

Ah. Well, this might grate with some people - a piece of what looks like shameless marketing for a special edition of the current Mustang, to drive the launch of the facelifted model. Although we don't mind it so much, and it's not the first time Ford has launched a special edition based on the movie. It's called the Mustang Bullitt (SURPRISE!) and the latest version features an uprated version of the 5.0-litre V8 that was used in the first Mustang officially sold in Europe. It's boosted from 421hp and 530Nm in that car (the facelifted model is up to 450hp anyway) to 481hp and 569Nm. Top speed rises from 155mph to 163mph, while the 0-62mph time - as yet unconfirmed - will likely be quicker than the current coupe's 4.8-second sprint. You can't have failed to have noticed, of course, that 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Bullitt's cinematic release. So now you get the link between the 1968 classic and NAIAS.

Hmm, I find it all a bit cynical. But, aside from more power, why is the Mustang Bullitt special?

It has a manual transmission, sporting a lever topped with a white cueball, as with the 1968 film car. Exterior badging is kept to a minimum, detailing on the outside apes the original in the form of chrome highlights around the grille and front windows, it wears 19-inch 'Torq Thrust'-style alloy wheels, the 12-inch LCD instrument cluster (due to hit Europe in the updated Mustang this year) has a special green start-up screen with an image of the car, rather than the pony logo, and the exhaust system has been retuned to provide a 'distinctive burble'. You can also spec this limited-edition Mustang in Dark Highland Green, the colour of the film car, or Shadow Black if you feel that's a bit too much. We say 'you can spec it', as far as we can tell, the Mustang Bullitt is reserved for the US market only. So, unless you're reading this in the depths of Wyoming or similar, you can't spec it at all. Shame.

You keep talking about the original Mustang from Bullitt in 1968, but why was it thought to be lost?

Two identical Mustang GT Fastbacks were used for the film - one was the hero car, driven by McQueen for much of the movie. The other was more of a stunt machine, used for many of those fantastic jumps in the fabled car chase. Now, the 'jumper' was sent to a salvage yard after the film wrapped and, strangely enough, it only resurfaced at the start of last year in Baja, California. But the hero car was sold by the Warner Bros studio to a private buyer and no one knew where it had gone... until its current owner, Sean Kiernan, got in touch with Ford. His late father, Robert, bought the car in 1974 and Sean inherited it when his dad passed away in 2014. His family had always wanted the car to be back in the spotlight, so Sean worked with Ford to reveal his classic alongside the new Mustang Bullitt at NAIAS 2018. Now that, you have to admit, is pretty cool.

It is indeed. Anyway, enough on Mustangs - what's that meaty-looking Ford Edge in the pics all about?

Ah. Another case of the US getting the best Fords while Europe has to grin and bear it. The Edge ST is the first SUV from the Blue Oval to go to the Ford Performance team, which has worked on a 2.7-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 petrol to liberate numbers of 340hp and 515Nm. Driving all four wheels through a fast-shifting eight-speed auto, the hot Edge has ST sports suspension, 21-inch alloys, ST styling, a Sport Mode for driving quicker (sharper throttle, more resonant exhaust note) and a restyled interior. However, there's no indication this will come to Europe - Ford is clear that it's purely for its home market for the moment. Naturally, if you're not excited by the thought of a Ford SUV which could take the fight to the BMW X3 M40i, then you'll be pleased to know that we get the facelifted Edge later this year in Vignale, ST-Line and Titanium trims, with improved diesel engines thrown into the mix. Well, hoo-bloody-ray.

Matt Robinson - 15 Jan 2018

Earlier articles featuring 2018 Ford Mustang

2017-10-05: Mustang lets you sneak away

2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt. Image by Ford.2018 Ford Mustang Bullitt. Image by Ford.

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