10 Bullitt Mustang Trivia Nuggets

Later Mustang release recalled chase scene from iconic 'Bullitt' movie

Famous 'Bullitt' Mustang On Display On National Mall In D.C.
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To coincide with the release of the 2008 Bullitt Mustang, a special-edition Mustang designed to mimic the car in the classic 1968 movie "Bullitt," Ford published a list of "Bullitt" factoids. Did you know that two 1968 Mustang GTs were used to make the movie and that one was destroyed during filming? Did you know that the car used in the famous chase scene reached speeds of 110 mph on the streets of San Francisco and that residents actually called the police? Here's Ford's collection of "Bullitt" trivia:

Exterior Decluttered

Hollywood pared down the original 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 to give the car a stealthy appearance for film, removing the driving lights, running pony grille emblem, Mustang lettering, and even the GT badges. The 2008 Mustang Bullitt recalls the movie car right down to the dark Highland Green paint and lack of exterior badges, scoops, and spoilers. The only visible identification is the word “Bullitt” in a gunsight graphic in the center of the decklid. A new black-mesh pony-less grille on the 2008 Bullitt is accented by a satin aluminum strip representing the chrome grille surround on the 1968 car.

McQueen Reprises Role in Commercial

For his role as Frank Bullitt, Steve McQueen was voted “World Film Favorite” by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But 1968 wasn't the last time the actor delivered on-screen thrills in a Ford Mustang. Thanks to the magic of special effects, audiences watched McQueen climb into a 2005 Mustang GT and race around a cornfield road course custom-built by a farmer for a Ford ad titled "Cornfield." The commercial premiered in movie theaters in fall 2004 before appearing on television.

Extra Car Needed

Two 1968 Mustang GTs with 390 cubic-inch engines were modified to make "Bullitt." One was badly damaged by the time shooting ended and was later destroyed. The remaining car was purchased under the stipulation that the owner's name remains anonymous. The car was kept hidden for years until it showed up at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2018 to mark the debut of a limited-edition 2019 Mustang Bullitt.

Exhaust Roar Enhanced Soundtrack

The emphasis on realism drove the chase scene in "Bullittright down to the soundtrack. Rather than use high-energy music to support the heart-racing action, the 10-minute car chase showcased the throaty roar of the engine, frenetic downshifting, and squealing tires, which helped earn the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound. The 2008 Bullitt's exhaust was made to sound as close to that of the original movie car as possible.

Safety First

McQueen and stunt drivers buckled up before racing the Mustang. Concerned residents along the film route reportedly called the San Francisco Police Department and City Hall during the filming of the legendary jump sequence. Some say the San Francisco authorities were led to believe the cars wouldn't exceed speeds of 35 mph. Designed for performance, the 2008 Mustang Bullitt delivers the thrill of the original, along with a host of features scarcely imagined in 1968.

Engine, Suspension Enhanced

Bullitt's 390-cubic-inch V-8 introduced big-block performance to the Mustang. For 2008, Ford dialed the driving dynamics up a notch for Mustang enthusiasts. Ford engineers modified the 2008 Mustang Bullitt's chassis and suspension to fine-tune handling and ensure extra horsepower and torque from the engine. The live rear axle uses a 3.73:1 gear that helps launch the Bullitt with vigor. Stock Mustang GT shocks and struts were swapped out for new units that allowed engineers to create a more aggressive driving dynamic.

Driver's-Eye View

Drivers view shots let audiences in on the thrill of the chase in "Bullitt" and provided a glimpse of the Mustang's spartan interior. The 2008 and 2019 versions maintain an understated mystique, with a graphically clean interior sporting charcoal black leather and race-inspired accents.

Chase Scene Hectic

The chase scene in "Bullitt" took more than two weeks to film, resulting in 9 minutes and 42 seconds of edited footage that helped Frank P. Keller earn an Academy Award for Film Editing. Filming in a working city, with locations spread over a considerable part of San Francisco, helped generate a number of continuity lapses that are either overlooked or celebrated by "Bullitt" aficionados. Audiences, for example, see a green Volkswagen, a Yellow cab, and a white Firebird reappear several times, and the Dodge Charger driven by the villains loses eight hubcaps during the chase. Still, for many, no other chase scene has come close to equaling it.

New Engines Greener

1968 was the first year in which vehicle emissions were regulated by the U.S. federal government, but cars still burned leaded fuel, and catalytic converters were years away. All 1968 Mustang engines incorporated an exhaust emission control system. Later vehicles, such as the 2008 and 2019 Bullitt, produce far fewer smog-forming emissions.

New Model Speedier

The original 1968 Mustang GT 390 boasted a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 15.2 seconds at 94.0 mph, according to Motor Trend. Ford engineers modified the 2008 Mustang Bullitt's chassis and suspension to fine-tune handling and ensure extra horsepower and torque from the 4.6-liter V-8. Motor Trend clocked the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt at 5 seconds even for 0-60, with a quarter-mile time of 13.7 seconds at 102.7 mph.