It was supposed to be a surprise: a dollop of sports car news at an auto show dominated by pickup trucks.
But the cat was out of the bag with numerous confirmations that Ford would reveal the 2019 Mustang Bullitt at the North American International Auto Show. The famed Mustang was part of a press event to show the 2019 Ford Ranger midsize pickup and the Ford Edge crossover that has added a performance ST variant.
The timing of the Bullitt kind of gave it away. The return of a special-edition, high-performance Mustang Bullitt comes on the 50th anniversary of the Steve McQueen movie that made the green machine so famous. The 1968 movie Bullitt features one of cinema’s best car chases starring McQueen’s Highland Green Mustang GT 390 fastback.
Making the announcement was Molly McQueen, who never met her grandfather but talked about how important it was to him that his detective character drive an affordable car. And one of the original two 1968 Mustang GT fastbacks driven in the movie made a cameo at the Detroit auto show. The main car McQueen drove was sold by Warner Bros. to a private buyer and it recently resurfaced. Current owner Sean Kiernan inherited the car in 2014 from his late father, Robert, who had purchased the vehicle in 1974.
The limited-edition 2019 Mustang Bullitt will be available this summer with a re-tuned 5.0-liter V-8 engine generating 475 horsepower–15 more than the GT–and 420 lb-ft of torque and tops out at 163 mph. It has a manual transmission and white cue ball shift knob. It was also tuned for a distinct exhaust note through the new tips. The extra power comes thanks to the GT350’s larger, freer-flowing intake manifold, its bigger (87mm versus 80mm) throttle body, and an open airbox (needed because of the differences in the Bullitt and GT350 hoods).
The reincarnation comes in Highland Green with some chrome accents but it will also be available in black. There is a 12-inch digital LCD instrument cluster that welcomes the driver in a green font, and available Recaro black leather-trimmed seats with green stitching. The chassis utilizes all the elements of the Mustang’s Performance Package 1, including the front aero splitter. Performance Pack 2 is likely to be offered as an option.
Details of pricing and how many will be made were not announced.
Ford updated the Mustang lineup for the 2018 model year and notched 81.866 sales last year. While that was down 22.7 percent from the prior year, it still topped Camaro sales of 67,940 which were down 6.6 percent
The first Bullitt off the line is expected to be auctioned off January 19 with proceeds going to the Boy’s Republic boys school in California that Steve McQueen attended and his family continues to support.
The first Mustang Bullitt was in 2001 with better power and handing than the GT of the day. It returned in 2008 and again in 2009. The last batch was a limited run of 3,000 units powered by a 4.6-liter three-valve V-8.
The 2018 Mustang lineup has a 2.3-liter direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that generates 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque on 93-octane fuel. The Mustang will be built at Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan, plant — the 2018 Mustang is pictured below.