Guide To Mustang Bullitt History

Kevin Cassar
April 23, 2020

In 1968, moviegoers from all around America headed to theaters to what is known as the most significant Hollywood automotive chase scene in cinematic history. Starring in Bullitt is the original "King of Cool," Mr. Steve McQueen, played Frank Bullitt as a San Francisco Police Lieutenant, which drove a dark highland green 1968 Mustang Fastback, into what we know now as the most iconic movie car in history. Together both Mcqueen and Mustang wrote the standard for Hollywood chase scenes!

Five decades later, the film Bullitt is still revered from all around the world, seen as the film that put Mustang on the map for many people. Ford knew it was an ingenious idea to market the Mustang through cinema. Little did they know it would launch not just an American icon, but a global one as well. Even in modern-day standards, it still stands not only as a '68 Dark Highland Green Mustang GT but a testament of a legacy left behind for generations to come.

Steve McQueen King of Cool

"King Of Cool" Automotive Royalty: 1968 Bullitt Mustang Fastback The Return Of Bullitt 2008 Mustang Bullitt Rebirth Of A Hollywood Legend Steve McQueen Edition

"King Of Cool"

Terrence Steven McQueen was born on March 24, 1930, in Beech Grove, Indiana. McQueen never took the road less traveled. During his troubled youth, he drifted through odd jobs, then came to the realization he was always pushing himself on how to be better than the competition. From joining the United States Marine Corps to joining the local circus, and even living on the streets for some time. Through his wit, toughness, and style, he blasted his way through cinematic history for titles like "The Great Escape," "Papillon," and "Bullitt." His style, charisma, and cool factor always is what made him the legend in not only Hollywood but in the world of Mustang!

After his troubled youth, he came to realize that he strived for a better life. So, in the late 1940s he came to the conclusion that serving in the United States Marine Corps would move him forward not only in a career, but as a man. After his time in the Marines, he then enrolled himself to study acting, while acting, he started his love for racing in motorcycles.

After many years of acting in New York, he finally got his big break for his first film in The Blob, circa 1958. After years of making a name for himself in Hollywood, McQueen finally was able to put his take on a movie that would both intertwine both racing, action, and acting all in one. Bullitt was the first film where he could combine all of his life passions into one role. It truly set the stage for the rest of his Hollywood and racing career. McQueen's character, Frank Bullitt, showcases a San Francisco Police Lieutenant helping Senator Walter Chalmers, aiming to take down the mob boss, Pete Ross. When a pair of hitmen from the mob boss enters the scene to take Bullitt out, he comes across their scam, which ends in the most famous car chase ever filmed on a Hollywood blockbuster film.

Other than the likes of Carroll Shelby and Lee Iacocca, Steve McQueen has to be one of the founding fathers of the Mustang! His influence not just in the film, but off the screen in the world of racing set him apart from just your average Hollywood actor. During the film, McQueen's driving skills were fundamental to the success of the chase scene. Portrayed the Mustang as not only as good looking, but could perform at the height of the muscle era. Without his influence, we couldn't imagine where the Mustang would be today.

Even decades after Steven McQueen's death, the original Hollywood badass is still very much alive. To this day, his son Chad and granddaughter Molly are always striving to keep the "King Of Cool" legacy alive as it was fifty years ago. With the continued success of Chad McQueens racing pedigree and Molly continuing her grandfather's legacy as a career actress in Hollywood. It is no wonder that this family knows how to keep it fresh.

1968 Bullitt Mustang Fastback

Automotive Royalty: 1968 Bullitt Mustang Fastback

Ever since the Mustang's inception on April 17, 1964, it has been an automotive success like no other. Thanks to the likes of Lee Iacocca and Carroll Shelby, it turned from a mule to a racehorse. So what could make it any better than what Ford and Shelby did? Mr. McQueen himself, the original badass, took the Mustang as we knew it to another level when he put it as the hero car in his most film Bullitt.

McQueen knew that if he could take the already stout 1968 Mustang Fastback GT and show it to the masses, he could make some serious noise around America. When Bullitt launched in '68, it was an instant success, not only because of the great storyline, but the final ten-minute chase scene wrote the script for generations to come. This scene helped launch both McQueen and the Mustang into film history. Since then, the 1968 Dark Highland Green Mustang GT has been famed as the most iconic cinema movie car in history.

During the late 1960s, Mustang started coming into its heyday of performance with the likes of the Shelby GT350/GT350R, GT500, and GT 390. For a few years now, Mustang enthusiasts were becoming accustomed to what Ford had to offer in engine performance. When the Bullitt movie launched, it was a marketing campaign like no other. Enthusiasts were running to Ford showrooms all across the country to get their hands on a piece of McQueen movie magic.

1968 Bullitt Mustang Fastback 390 Engine

1968 Bullitt Mustang Fastback: Drivetrain & Chassis Options

  • The original 1968 Mustang Fastback GT came equipped with a 390 cubic inch V8 or 6.4L in today's measurements.
  • Each GT that came equipped with the 390 was part of the S-code package from the factory. It only was available in 1967 and 1969 fastback models.
  • From the factory was a potent 320 horsepower, but some engines were capable of putting over 330 at 4,800 RPM.
  • Torque was an Earth rotating 427 lb/ft of torque at 3,200 RPM.
  • Each 1967 and 1967 Mustang Fastback GT came equipped with a Borg-Warner T-10 heavy-duty four-speed manual transmission.
  • Straight pipe exhaust
  • Movie cars came equipped with race modifications for high-speed maneuvers.
  • Positraction 4.10 rear end with heavy-duty universal joints
  • Each movie car came constructed with as much structural rigidity as possible.
  • Reinforced with sturdy shock mounts and a cross beam support bar for added strength.
  • Frame members came equipped, reinforced heavily with extra bracing.

1968 Mustang Bullitt Fastback Rolling Shot

1968 Bullitt Mustang Fastback: Exterior Highlights

Thanks to the help of Carroll Shelby, Mustang became the performance legend we all know and love today. But many enthusiasts and history writers agree, if it weren't for the success of the film, the Mustang would not be what it is today. At first glance, the original Bullitt Mustang shares the same body lines that all Mustang fans know and love. From its short rear deck, broad rear haunches, shark-nose grille, and long hood.

What separates the Bullitt from all others are the following:

  • Dark Highland Green Paint Sceme
  • American Racing torque thrust wheels
  • More aggressive stance
  • Mesh front grille
  • More aggressive stance
  • Quarter window louvers

Original Mustang Bullitt Interior

1968 Bullitt Mustang Fastback: Interior Highlights

  • Wood trimmed dash panel
  • Hurst short-throw shifter
  • Shelby steering wheel
  • GT gauges
  • Bucket vinyl seats
  • AM/FM radio

2001 Mustang Bullitt

The Return Of Bullitt

It wasn't till thirty-three years later when Ford decided it was time to pay tribute to one of its most iconic vehicles to date. In 2001, Ford launched the first homage Mustang ever from the production line. Based on the GT platform, the Bullitt would be a limited production, featuring a revised 4.6L V8 composed with better airflow, power, and torque. Unlike other GT models, the 2001 Bullitt Mustang would receive an all-aluminum cast-intake, better flowing exhaust, and a twin 57mm throttle body.

For even further enhancement, team Mustang gave the New Edge Bullitt a lowered stance, firmer suspension, torque thrust style wheels, spoiler delete, and interior touches that pay tribute to the original 1968 Mustang Bullitt. Each edition came with a serialized badge to ensure the originality to verify that each is an actual collectible Mustang.

2001 Mustang Bullitt Exterior Styling

2001 Mustang Bullitt: Exterior Highlights

  • Fog light delete option
  • Bullitt script badge on decklid
  • Brushed silver fuel door
  • Painted Red Calipers
  • Spoiler delete
  • Color Options
  • Dark Highland Green
  • Black
  • True Blue

New Edge Mustang Bullitt Interior

2001 Mustang Bullitt: Interior Highlights

  • Brushed aluminum pedals
  • Retro style gauges
  • Bullitt logo door sills
  • Aluminum retro shift knob
  • Serial number badging

2001 Mustang Bullitt Engine Bay

2001 Mustang Bullitt: Drivetrain Options

  • Engine: 4.6L 2V V8 281 Cubic Inch
  • Horsepower: 265 at 5,000 RPM
  • Torque: 305 LB/FT at 4,000 RPM
  • Zero to 60: 5.6 Seconds
  • Tremec T-45 5-Speed Manual Transmsiion

2001 Production Numbers

  • Production Numbers: Total 5,582
    • Dark Highland Green: 3,041
    • True Blue: 722
    • Black: 1,819

    2008 Mustang Bullitt San Fran Roller

    2008 Mustang Bullitt

    Upon the release of the S197 Mustang in 2005, Mustang enthusiasts were pushing Ford and Mustang engineers to reintroduce a Bullitt edition, once again, as they did in 2001. This time, they would take the level of performance to another level but still keeping accurate to the 1968 original Bullitt Mustang. Since the S197 chassis and body were more resemblances of the original, fans everywhere were chomping at the bit to get their hands on the all-new tribute Mustang.

    Ford engineers again didn't want the new variant of Bullitt to be just any regular GT seen on the street. Like the 2001 Bullitt, the Mustang team went to engineers at Ford Racing to kick up the performance. Power upgrades including the stage 1 power pack to give the Bullitt an extra 15 horsepower to the GT's 300 ponies. But they didn't stop just there, upgrades went to suspension as well, including stiffer shocks, struts, springs, and a strut tower brace with unique serialized plaque.

    It is safe to say that this version of the Bullitt was not out just for good looks but to live up to the original as best as possible. Each 2008 Mustang Bullitt came equipped with a unique dash applique, shift knob, spoiler delete, and everyone had their individual VIN specific to the serialized number. Customers had the option to choose from two colors in the legendary Dark High Green or Black. This pony lives up the original Bullitt and then some.

    S197 Mustang Bullitt

    2008 Mustang Bullitt: Exterior Highlights

    • Specific Bullitt style 18 inch black wheels
    • Spoiler delete
    • Larger exhaust tips
    • Fog light grille delete
    • Hood scoop delete
    • Honeycomb grille

    S197 Mustang Bullitt Interior

    2008 Mustang Bullitt: Interior Hightlights

    • Unique dash applique
    • GT500 style steering wheel
    • Classic style gauges
    • Unique badging
    • Aluminum shift knob
    • Bullitt insignia door sill plates

    2008 Mustang Bullitt Engine Bay

    2008 Mustang Bullitt: Drivetrain Options

    • Engine: 4.6L 3V V8 281 Cubic Inches
    • Horsepower: 315 at 6,000 RPM
    • 325 LB/FT Torque at 4,250 RPM
    • 0-60 MPH: 5.0 seconds
    • 60-0 MPH Braking: 127 feet
    • 5-Speed Tremec TR-3650 Manual Transmission
    • Ford Racing high-flow exhaust
    • Ford Racing stage 1 powerpack
    • Strut tower brace w/Bullitt serialized plaque

    Production Numbers

  • 2008 Production Numbers: Total 5,808
    • Dark Highland Green: 4,377
    • Black: 1,431
  • 2009 Production Numbers: Total 816
    • Dark Highland Green: 635
    • Black: 181

    2019 S550 Mustang Bullitt

    Rebirth Of A Hollywood Legend

    With the fiftieth anniversary of the original Mustang Bullitt approaching, Ford knew it was on a deadline to produce its most legendary tribute car to date. Four years into the S550 generation, it was time to bring out the big guns to give fans and enthusiasts the best Bullitt Mustang to date other than the original itself. Upon Ford's collaboration with third generation McQueen "Molly," they put together something that will be a collectors car for years to come.

    The result came out to be stunning; just like the previous 2008 Mustang Bullitt, it too shares the same design features as the original 1968. Upon first glance, you can straight tell that this has design cues that are signature Bullitt Mustang written all over it. From the pony delete Mustang Grille, lowered stance, aggressive five-spoke alloy wheels paying tribute to the original American Racing torque thrust wheels, spoiler delete, and Bullitt faux gas cap badging on the rear decklid panel. It is like reliving history all over once again; only this time, you can buy a piece of Ford and Steve McQueen history.

    Unlike the two previous generations, Bullitt Mustang tribute cars, this is the most potent pony to come out of the stable thus far. Ford Performance engineers got together to turn up the Gen III Coyote engine to produce 480 horsepower. By adding the GT350 intake manifold and cold air intake. It would make the Charger from the movie run scared across the streets of San Francisco. To stop all this horsepower, unique red Brembo six-piston calipers are added for performance that not only looks good but functions when it matters most. Once Mustang and Bullitt enthusiasts heard about this after the unveiling at the Detroit Auto Show in January of 2018, everyone couldn't wait to get their hands on McQueen's baddest pony to date.

    2019 Mustang Bullitt Rear End

    2019 Mustang Bullitt: Exterior Highlights

    • Unique fastback styling paying homage to the original 1968 Bullitt Mustang
    • Pony emblem delete
    • Signature honeycomb grille
    • Lowered stance
    • Bullitt emblem faux gas cap
    • Quad tip exhaust
    • Signature 19 inch black five-spoke wheels
    • Spoiler delete
    • Larger front splitter
    • Black or Dark Highland Green Paint

    2019 S550 Mustang Bullitt Engine Bay

    2019 Mustang Bullitt: Interior Highlights

    • Unique dash applique trim
    • 12 inch LCD digital gauge display
    • MyColor ambient lighting
    • White q-ball shift knob
    • Recaro leather trimmed sport seats
    • Leather trimmed steering wheels
    • 8 inch Ford sync infotainment display
    • Bullitt signature door sill plates
    • Bullitt serialized number plaque
    • Double brow dashboard
    • Aluminum pedals
    • Performance package center mounted gauges

    S550 Mustang Bullitt Engine Bay

    2019 Mustang Bullitt: Drivetrain Options

    • GT350 Intake Manifold
    • Gen III Coyote 5.0L 32V TiVCT V8
    • GT350 Cold Air Intake with exposed filter
    • Sport tuned active exhaust
    • Strut tower brace featuring Bullitt emblem logo
    • Revised Ford Performance engine calibration
    • Red painted Brembo six-piston calipers
    • Quad black exhaust tips
    • Revised shifter
    • Magneride suspension

    Steeda Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang

    Steve McQueen Edition

    Plenty of people within the Mustang hobby and industry wanted to see a Bullitt edition that has no boundaries. Thanks to Steeda Autosports, Steeda Performance Vehicles, Ford Motor Company, and McQueen Racing, the Steve McQueen edition program was born.

    Paying homage to the original badass himself, the team at Steeda and McQueen racing wanted to bring out something extraordinary to deliver the ultimate Bullitt Mustang performance. President Dario Orlando said himself, "we're honored to bring our over 30-years of experience in designing, engineering, and manufacturing high-performance Mustang components to this elite developmental team." Working together directly with Steve McQueen's only son Chad, the team was able to hone in on a design that would be as if it came from the King of Cool himself.

    Through the design, ingenuity, and passion, the team was able to come up with a modern rendition of the fabled 1968 Mustang Bullitt, that so many people fell in love with over 50 years ago.

    Steeda Steve McQueen Edition Mustang Front Quarter Shot

    Steve McQueen Edition: Exterior Highlights

    • Aerodynamic Front Fascia Enhancement Package
    • Hood Strut Kit
    • Engine Compartment Serialization Plate
    • Rear Decklid Emblem
    • Upgraded Larger Front Splitter

    Steeda Steve McQueen Edition Interior Shot

    Steve McQueen Edition: Interior Highlights

    Steve McQueen Edition Recaro Seats

    • Steve McQueen Edition Door Sill Plates
    • Steve McQueen Edition Dashboard Serialization Plaque
    • Steve McQueen Edition Floor Mats
    • Four point bolt-in roll cage
    • Shoulder harnesses
    • Race inspired alcantara steering wheel with flat bottom
    • Unique Dark Highland Green stitching and embossed lettering in Recaro seats

    Steeda Steve McQueen Edition Mustang Engine Bay

    Steve McQueen Edition: Powertrain Upgrades

    Steve McQueen Edition Sunset Gas Station Photo

    Steve McQueen Edition: Steeda Suspension Upgrades

    Check Out 50-years of Mustang Bullitt History:

    Ford Mustang Bullitt Generation Infographic


    Steeda Newsletter Sign-Up





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    Image Credit: Ford, McQueen Racing, Car & Driver, MotorTrend, Warner Bro's







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