After a day in that car my face is still sore from grinning through every curve.
The best adventures happen when you just run with a door opened. The Mustang Bullitt makes that run even more fun. In short I loved the car despite a few niggles. My adventure with the Bullitt came as a result of a post I did at the LA Launch of the 2010 Camaro. I called the current base Mustang a gelding compared to what was shown for the base Camaro. Turns out commenter dwr1ten works for the marketing company for Ford here in So Cal and felt I was underestimating the Mustang. She offered up a Bullitt and I took her up on it.
Los Angeles is an important market for Ford and the Mustang Bullitt. According to Ford’s marketing “LA and CA in general are very important bellwethers for Ford, if a car sells here it well do well anywhere”. Los Angeles is so important to Ford that the next generation Mustang will be premiered here the day before the LA Auto Show in November.
The Bullitt is a limited edition car. Only 7700 copies of this beauty will ever be made. LA has gotten more than its fair share. As of Monday in California there are 330 Bullitts available, 93 remain here in LA. 120 have sold in LA already this year. The remarkable aspect of those sales is that they were sold without rebates or incentives. Priced at 32,500 the car has no options, and is very nicely equipped. It is an outright bargain when you look at its abilities and competition.
The Bullitt is more than your basic Mustang GT. Tweaks were done to the intake to add 15 horsepower, the rev limiter was increased 250rpm to bring more total horsepower for this 4.6L V8. Important numbers: 315 Bhp, 325 ft/lbs torque, with a lower axel ration gets you from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds. In real life it is a seamless power curve right up to the rev limiters. Every bit of chrome, markers and logos is gone, the only way to identify a Bullitt is by its deep green paint and the unique “fuel filler” on the rear of the car.
The engineering is hidden. What isn’t is the sound that comes off that chrome tipped exhaust pipes. Ford spent a ton of money tuning the exhaust note to replicate the sound of the big block “390 V8” of the original Bullitt. It has a nice deep burble at idle and just opens up to a deep base howl when you floor it. I liked it! I got to do the ultimate sound test. In a tunnel on the Angeles Forest Highway I lowered the windows, dropped it in 2nd gear and floored it. The roar was incredible. A deep sweet monster of a roar in a cave was unleashed. Sometimes it is good to nurture the juvenile delinquent within.
Ford was really good to me. They arrived at my house and let me choose the routes to drive. High on the agenda was a giant photo op with a rare car as well as run it through its paces in the San Gabriel Mountains just above LA.
Our first jaunt was up Azusa Canyon. After settling into what has got to be the MOST comfortable seats I’ve ever had the pleasure of melting into in quite some time. I took simple route around the block to test my stick abilities. (It has been years since I last had a stick shift in my stable and found I really hadn’t lost the ability to clutch, shift and talk at the same time).
Once we got past the obligatory radar trap at the entrance to Azusa Canyon I had my first chance to open it up and run it through a few gears. Distances evaporate quickly with this car. By the time I was through my second “S” curve I had a silly ass grin that I couldn’t get rid of. I don’t remember when I had so much fun in a car.
The handling on it is really well designed with it possible to find that sweet spot in the steering to swoop and carve curves quickly. Even without the benefit of traction control and other electronic goodies it is very easy for even a neophyte like me to get into the rhythm and rocket around the canyons with the Bullitt.
With me on this journey were Nicole DeRuiter and Adam Robles of PCG Campbell Marketing and communications which is Ford’s reps here in the LA area. Nicole answered all my inane questions.
Adam was the driver for some action photos I wanted to take. We called him “The Stig” and he had as much fun as I running the car through its gears on the twisties. I couldn’t get him to do any sliders, but then again it was his employers car and his job on the line not mine. Still he did kick up a bit of dust for me.
The drive up Angeles Crest Highway is where I really noticed the ample power and broad range the Bullitt has. We cruised up the mountain on 4th gear, purposely not shifting just to test the power curve. The car never missed a beat, even with the tach less than 2000 RPM there was ample engine braking when needed and more importantly a steady rush of power when I wanted it to power out of a curve or zoom past a slow poke. It never bucked or stumbled. It was possible to drive up that grade without shifting out of gear. Try that in a little tuner car!
Without a doubt, one of my favorite places to be is up on the Crest just looking down on the Los Angeles. A great escape, great vistas, but damn with the Bullitt I really didn’t want to stop. I can tell you that the Bullitt was made for that highway. No stress, no fuss, no constant shifting, just pick a gear and carve up the curves on the twisties. Lawdy be…it was more fun than I can remember having up there in a long time.
I didn’t bother looking at the mpg on this one. Primarily because the purpose of this car isn’t about commuting and all the other stuff that goes with a daily grind we encounter each day. It is all about driving and having fun doing it. Plenty of people may use it as a daily driver, but they bought the car because of its spirit, its history and mpg wasn’t a factor in the purchase.
I couldn’t find a flaw in how the car drove. Silly things with the details did raise questions. The cup holder placement made it difficult to shift if a bottle of water was stored there. The a/c was all you could ask for, but at that price point couldn’t we have an automatic unit instead of having to fiddle with temp, fan and which set of ducts were being used? After that…I have no complaints. The car was that good. Those niggles are just petty on my part. The Bullitt is a helluva lot of car for the money.
I couldn’t get any details on the 2010 Mustang due out next spring. I did get a link to a Flash Based web site on the next generation Mustang. The car appears to be a bit more chiseled but keep the historic if not iconic profile of a Mustang. There is a quick glimpse of a 1968 California Limited edition model but no confirmation from them that such a re-release would come with the new car. The changes I have been assured will keep the car competitive and relevant. I’m trying to wrangle an invite to the premiere party, if I do you will see the new ‘stang here first.
I did hate to have to turn the keys over at the end of the day. It is nice to stash the Dad car every now and then. Of course the reality check came back when we hit the 210 for snarled traffic and I remembered why a stick wasn’t handy for a daily commute in LA. That reality check was good; the sore face from grinning like an idiot all afternoon still hasn’t faded. I’d certainly like one, but it will have to wait until after I can retire the Dad car.
As always the pics are by me. Some of the images are High Dynamic Range, others are just straight up photos, and all should get bigger with a click. More photos from the day are in my Bullitt flickr set.