50th anniversary Ford Mustang Bullitt debuts at the Detroit auto show

The iconic Ford Mustang Bullitt gets a modern makeover.

2019 Bullitt Ford Mustang
2019 Bullitt Ford Mustang –Ford Motor Company

The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt roared onto the stage at the Detroit auto show, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movie that made the car famous. The 1968 film “Bullitt” stars legendary actor Steve McQueen and has one of the best car chase scenes in film — ever. It made McQueen’s Dark Highland Green Ford Mustang fastback nearly as famous as the actor.

Playing off that legacy, the new Mustang Bullitt was introduced by Molly McQueen. She never met her grandfather, but talked about his feelings toward his famous four-wheeled co-star. McQueen said he wanted his character, who was a detective, to drive an affordable car that a detective could conceivably own.

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There were two 1968 Mustang GT fastbacks used in “Bullitt.” After filming, one went to a private buyer, while the one used for many of the jumps in the famous car chase went to a salvage yard. The jump vehicle reappeared in California in 2017, but the one sold to a private buyer was lost.

It wound up in the hands of Sean Kiernan, who inherited it from his late father. This famous movie car returned to the stage at the 2018 North American International Auto Show on Sunday in Detroit.

“You know, it was never our intention to keep this car a secret from everybody,” Kiernan said. “It just kind of happened with life. I’m just completely buzzing to join with Ford and the new Bullitt and show this car to the world on one of the biggest stages there is.”

The limited-edition 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt arrives this summer and has a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 475 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. It has a top speed of 163 miles per hour, making it 8 miles per hour faster than the latest Mustang GT.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:

“When making a Bullitt, there are certain things it absolutely must have,” said Carl Widmann, Mustang’s chief engineer. “It has to have the right attitude, it has to be unique in some way from a Mustang GT, and more than anything, it has to be badass.”

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This special-edition Mustang is available in the familiar Dark Highland Green and has all the Mustang GT Premium and Performance Package. It’s a modern Mustang, but there are nods to the original, like a white cube ball shift knob.

An active valve performance exhaust is standard, featuring Black NitroPlate exhaust tips. It’s specially tuned to have its own unique burble. There’s also a new open air induction system and Shelby GT350 intake manifold with 87-millimeter throttle bodies and powertrain control-model calibration to enhance performance.

It may be a tribute to a 50-year-old car, but the 2019 Mustang Bullitt has modern features inside. This includes a standard heated leather steering wheel and a 12-inch all-digital LCD instrument cluster that functions exactly as the one in the 2018 Mustang. There’s one key difference, however. The start-up screen loses the pony image; instead, it’s green with an image of the car. There’s also green accent stitching on the dashboard, doors, center console, and seats.

Only three options packages are offered, starting with a Bullitt Electronics Package, which has navigation, driver memory seats and mirrors, an upgraded sound system, and a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert. A MagneRide semi-active suspension system and Recaro black leather-trimmed are the final two factory-installed options.

Paint choices are only the Dark Highland Green from the movie or Shadow Black. In another nod to the original, there are chrome accents around the grille and front windows, classic torque-thrust 19-inch aluminum wheels, red Brembo brakes, and a unique black-front grille. There’s subtle badging with only the circular faux gas cap Bullitt logo on the rear visible on the outside of the car.

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“This new Bullitt is, as Steve McQueen was, effortlessly cool,” said Darrell Behmer, Mustang’s chief designer. “As a designer, it’s my favorite Mustang – devoid of stripes, spoilers, and badges. It doesn’t need to scream about anything – it’s just cool.”

Details on pricing and how many will be built have yet to be announced.

Ford Mustang Bullitt
The Ford Mustang Bullitt. —Mustang