Jalopnik Reviews the Ford Mustang Bullitt

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I managed to drive nearly one thousand miles across Texas in a 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt without running over a cow, getting in a gunfight or playing a single hand of high stakes poker. How? If you've never been, the Texas in your head is a rugged place with sun-drenched highways stretching across a flat endless plain as seen in movies actually shot in Southern California. We've got three of the ten largest cities in the United States. We've got dusty hills and verdant valleys. Modern skyscrapers and sandy beaches. Twists and turns. Tangy BBQ and spicy Pho. For both Texas and the Bullitt, the myth serves a purpose but the reality is that much more magical.

    My journey started in Dallas, a place where, a poet said, they took a billion steers and made them into buildings made of mirrors. A major metropolitan area, Dallas relishes its wealthy, conservative status. It's home to billionaires, 15 at last count, not bulls. You shouldn't underestimate the city as an urban place, like I did. I was scheduled to fly in and pick up the Bullitt just before 5:00 pm, meaning that I got to share in the universal big-city experience of traffic. Though the clutch isn't particularly heavy, the repetitive motion of engaging and disengaging first resulted in some embarrassing soreness.

    The next morning I set out early for Austin, anxious to experience the wide open expanse that is Interstate 35 between the two cities. The sun rising over my left shoulder shined against the hand-turned aluminum covering the dash as I marveled at the joy highway driving could bring after two years crisscrossing Chicago. Driving the Bullitt at speed I'm equally amazed at how solid it feels, how smoothly it drives. The construction and attention to detail are so great that I wonder if it doesn't embarrass the engineers to have to go back to working on other Mustangs.

    I check my speed as I cross into Waco, which marks the southern border of the Great Plains and the start of the Texas Hill Country. As the road crests, the braking starts, and my eyes scan the border for the black-and-white-and-browns of the Texas Department of Public Safety patrol cars. How unfortunate it would have been to get busted by the Dr. Pepper Squad, as they're pejoratively known, in the town that invented Dr. Pepper. The Bullitt is so stealth and low-key, especially compared to the wildly-striped special editions, I slipped past all law enforcement with ease.

    After thirty minutes of sitting around my friend's North Austin apartment, he politely asks what I want to do. We could grab a Shiner Bock at one of the bars situated along the University of Texas' main drag, but my visit to Austin was about more than gawking at leggy coeds. The city sits at the edge of the Balcones Escarpment, remnants of an ancient mountain range, and has the winding roads to prove it.

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    Without much effort, I'm able to push the Bullitt further and further without feeling like I'm suddenly going to launch the car off the cliff lurking behind a small barrier to my right. I keep downshifting so we can listen to the syncopated thrum of the pony car's eight cylinders projecting off the limestone walls. The quiet American may be a thing, but there's never been a myth about a quiet Texan.

    My hunger for the road was nowhere near waning, but the painted sign of the BBQ shack reminded me of an entirely different kind of hunger. As we exited, a group of teenagers walked by, obviously impressed by the sleek pony car. One of them was misled by the lack of a GT badge or spoiler, saying to his friends "It's just the V6 Mustang." Au contraire! I let them know that they shouldn't be confused by the Highland Green paint and lack of badges, this is a special Mustang. I speak with an embarrassing amount of pride given that this isn't actually my car... but that kid needs to be put in his place.

    After a weekend in Austin enjoying the abundant and ridiculously good Mexican food, I point my dark green steed toward the coastal plain and Houston. A truly international city with over 90 languages actively spoken, you're more likely to get into a discussion with a Nigerian ex-pat at an exhibit at one of Houston's world-renowned museums than you are to walk into an argument over the proper way to shoe a horse.

    About 20 miles out of Houston, in the little town of Sealy, I'm excited to find an unwatched drag strip behind the shop I'm visiting. With no one looking, I push the Mustang to its limits. While my lungs needed time to readjust to the warm, saturated air flowing off the adjacent Gulf of Mexico, the Bullitt inhaled gulps of air and fuel as it propelled me down the track and deeper into my high-backed chair. Though only slightly faster than a stock GT, this particular pony sounds and feels faster. I circled back to the track repeatedly until I realized I had made plans for lunch where I grew up in one of Houston's affluent northern suburbs.

    There's nothing better than showing up back home with a car this beautiful and powerful. There are countless Mustangs on the road, but none of them look quite like this. That's why it's so much fun pointing it out to friends, family and people from high school I randomly bump into near the mall. Sure, the car's not mine, but the experience of driving it was too great not to brag about. Modesty is also not a legendary Texas trait.

    My work in Houston done, I drove back towards Dallas to drop off the Bullitt and hop on a plane back to Chicago. I still had 200 miles of the rolling, pine-covered terrain of East Texas to cross before I was done but the thought that this was all coming to an end was inescapable. I contemplated turning west, abandoning my responsibilities so I could explore more of this wonderful state.

    Even a thousand miles driven in Texas revealed only part of the story of the state and of the car. Texas isn't just cowboys, it's also astronauts and accountants. The Mustang Bullitt isn't just a film homage, it's a typically American car designed to atypically high standards. Though both owe some measure of their popularity to silver screen creation myths involving rogue lawmen and ruthless killers, limiting one's self to fulfilling these antiquated notions means sacrificing an unimaginably glorious and complex present. Lose the boots for some real driving shoes and toss the turtleneck in the trunk. It's Texas: It's too hot for a turtleneck.

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  2. DeepRun™

    DeepRun™ Guest

    Can you bold the parts where he actually talks about the car?
     
  3. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo New Member

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    Wow another Mustang edition lol...
     
  4. you know me

    you know me OT where the douchbags play

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    wow another fucking moron lol
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Exterior Design: *****
    The 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt isn't just a series of minor enhancements. Although the differences between the GT are subtle, they're numerous — starting with the badge delete option and Highland Green paint, a large black grille rimmed with a satin piece of chrome that hints at the car's unique importance. The dark five-spoked wheels get a similar strip of lightly colored metal around the perimeter, helping to both maintain the car's stealth and at the same time acting as an enticement to the casual observer. Even the carefully considered lack of a lip spoiler adds much to the stature of the car, signified by a refusal to ornament. A rarity these days.

    Interior Design: **
    The '60s-era font used for the gauges is difficult to read at first. The gigantic and distinguishing piece of machine-turned aluminum that covers the dash is also a bit worrying. Although it definitely stands out against the primarily-black interior, the word 'AIRBAGS' etched into the corner of one panel ruins it.

    Acceleration: ****
    The buff books have been pegging the Bullitt 's 0-to-60 MPH time at around five seconds flat. That just-slightly-faster than a stock Mustang GT time is achieved thanks to a shorter rear-axle ratio, freer-flowing exhaust and an additional jolt of power from a Ford Racing cold air intake. The redline's been pushed to 6500 rpm. None of that, of course, means anything when you're driving it. The force of gravity pulling your ass backwards and the force of glee pulling the corners of your mouth into your cheeks as you smoke the tires is the best measure of speed, and the Bullitt has plenty of both.

    Braking: ***
    When you're going fast it's hard to remember that you need to stop. In fact, the best check of the brakes occurred not at the end of the drag strip, but rather as I noticed the fuel gauge beeping and the last gas station on an empty road fast approaching. Braking is sufficient, bringing the car to a halt without any theatrics, but it's nothing amazing.

    Ride: ****
    This is a Mustang? A performance Mustang? Though not Oldsmobuick floaty, it still manages to glide across the road and even off the beaten path it doesn't bitch and moan. I found it hard to believe that this was a heavy muscle car, much less a Mustang, even after driving it all the way across Texas.

    Handling: ****
    Balance and predictability are the two key factors here. The Bullitt benefits from a unique strut tower brace and new anti-roll bars which give the chassis a solid feel. Other tweaked suspension bits combine for an enjoyable-yet-manageable experience when tossed around at high speed. Accelerate into a turn from a dead stop and the Mustang's signature propensity to fishtail reveals itself, but even that is precise and controllable thanks to the quick steering.

    Gearbox: ****
    Who cares about six gears? Who cares about fuel economy? Not us so much. Five well-spaced ratios are all we needed to make the Bullitt perform. The globular aluminum shifter knob is comically large and, in the heat of action, leaves the numbers '1' through '5' and the letter 'R' seared backwards into the driver's palm, but it ends up enhancing the experience given how short and easy the throws are. Just add a layer of french fry grease and it becomes part of your hand.

    Audio: ***
    There's nothing particularly special about the standard-issue Ford system, which comes with an Auxillary input jack and the option of satellite radio. The real audio system is the car's exhaust, which has supposedly been specially tuned to the sounds from Bullitt. I've watched the movie and I can't quite confirm that, but it doesn't much matter; step on the gas and the deep, throaty rumble will have the high-school girl in the V6 Mustang convertible down the block taking a brief recess from consulting her Sidekick to admire it.

    Toys: **
    The navigation system might be out of place, but it's functional and touchscreen. Designers, sadly, maintained the 'select-your-color' cupholder and footwell lighting that's offered in the basic GT. I tried to keep the color pink as long as I could manage it — about five seconds. Also, no Sync in our test model. But the lack of toys actually speaks well to the car's purpose — driving.

    Value: ***
    All told, the 2008 Bullitt comes in at a somewhat hefty $34,705 after the ambient lighting option, GPS, and destination and delivery. If you're not willing to give a GT the necessary upgrades on its own, then it's worth every penny. It's seriously the best Mustang Ford makes. They could, and likely will, come out with 15 more special editions before you finish reading this sentence, but the Bullitt would still be the best. How can you say no when it feels so good?

    Overall: ****
    There are those who would pass on the car because of the gimmick you must first embrace, the gimmick of the car's eponymous film association. Yes, it is a bit silly. But passing on the car for such a reason would be like walking out on the first course of a carefully prepared meal because you don't like the amuse bouche. It would mean passing on the only muscle car with which you could use the term amuse bouche in a review without feeling a little ridiculous.

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  6. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo New Member

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    There are like 10 "special edition" Mustangs. :ugh::ugh::ugh::ugh::ugh:
     
  7. you know me

    you know me OT where the douchbags play

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    not really
     
  8. pathOFdisaster

    pathOFdisaster Resident Ford Troll OT Supporter

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    I like the way the GT/CS looks better, it just needs a drop
     
  9. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    35 grand seems very excessive.
     
  10. Mitchj

    Mitchj OT Supporter

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    But it is a very nice car...

    I'd still probably prefer a 135i for the money.
     

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