So, Ford has produced a 2018 Mustang in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the classic car chase movie, Bullitt. Same colour as the Mustang GT Fastback used in the 1968 blockbuster, too – Dark Highland Green.
A little background here. In March 2016, my partner Janine decided she would like to buy the Ford Mustang that New Zealand motoring drivers were testing. It had landed in NZ in November 2015. She especially liked the dark green colour. Ford called it ‘Guard’.
I rang Ford NZ communications manager Tom Clancy. He said the car was still doing the rounds of the press guys and wouldn’t be available for many months. No problem, I said. Let me know when it comes off the press drive. You have a buyer.
A qualifier here: There is nothing unusual in this – motoring writers, like the public, buy demonstrator models. Essentially, they are second-hand. I bought a 2012 Kia Rio hatchback from a Kia dealer after it finished its press evaluations in 2013.
Anyway, in November 2016, after many friendly Mexican standoffs with Clancy, Ford NZ arranged for its inner-city Auckland dealer John Andrew Ford to sell the Mustang to Janine. It had 10,500km on the clock.
The ‘friendly Mexican standoffs’, I quickly learned, had more to do with the colour Guard than the car itself. See, Guard had just been withdrawn from Ford’s colour pallette. Guard would no longer be available.
Asked why, Clancy said: “It’s just that they’re not doing that colour any more. We’ve been told it’s been withdrawn.”
That’s when it dawned one me – and there are witnesses to this: Guard is the nearest colour to the Dark Highland Green exterior of the 1968 Mustang GT Fastback that actor Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt.
Could it be, I asked myself before Christmas 2016, that Ford has withdrawn Guard because it’s going to do a special Dark Highland Green Mustang in 2018 for the 50th anniversary of the movie?
Based on a hunch and a few phone calls here and there, I wrote a couple of stories in 2017. The last one appeared last month. It was headlined: ‘Ford delivers ‘Bullitt’ Mustang for classic film’s 50th birthday’.
And now the model-year 2019 Bullitt Mustang, colour Dark Highland Green, has broken cover in the lead-up to the Detroit motor show this week. It is pictured here and will be unveiled alongside one of the original 1968 Mustangs used in the film.
Early reports say that, like the 1968 GT Fastback, it will be available only in left-hand drive. The 50th anniversary car gets a six-speed manual transmission and a gear knob shaped like a white cue ball, just like the original.
The limited-edition Pony car packs a few exclusive features, along with more oomph from its 5.0-litre V8 engine.
These include 19-inch ‘torque thrust’ alloy wheels, unique grille and ‘Bullitt’ badging inside and out, and red-painted Brembo brakes. Inside it gets a heated leather steering wheel, digital instrument cluster with a green theme, optional Recaro seats with green accents, and updated electronics, including the sound system.
The Bullitt V8 now puts out 354kW/569Nm, extra grunt that boosts top speed to 262km/h – 13km/h more than the standard 5.0-litre GT Mustang. Helping the power jump is an intake manifold from the Shelby GT350.