First drive: 2019 Mustang Bullitt chases legends in San Francisco


 

 

By: Mark Phelan\Detroit Free Press

(Video By Roadshow)

SAN FRANCISCO — The greatest chase scene in movie history would’ve ended a lot sooner if Steve McQueen could’ve got his hands on a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt. The Dodge Charger that eluded McQueen’s 1968 Mustang fastback for 12 minutes of brilliant filmmaking never would have stood a chance.

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the movie “Bullitt,” the car is everything a Mustang fan or movie lover could ask for: Fast, smooth, responsive and steeped in the same effortless cool McQueen brought to the movie and the chase scene he helped choreograph and drive.

The Dark Highland Green 2019 Bullitt I drove through the streets of San Francisco, surrounding hills and coastline didn’t scream for attention, but still drew admiring looks and questions. The 480-hp V8’s rumbling back-pressure burps turned heads, but don’t worry, electronic exhaust controls provide a stealth mode so you won’t wake the neighbors or alert the hit men you stake out.

That exhaust note, incidentally, was tuned from recordings of the same ’68 GT McQueen drove in the movie. Ford engineers listened to 1968 soundtrack masters the filmmakers recorded of the car racing around Willow Springs race track in California.

Filming the legendary chase scene

It took 10 days shooting, 12 hours a day to nail the chase scene, a whopping one-sixth of “Bullitt’s” total shooting schedule, University of Southern California film school prof Danny Bilson said.

McQueen was an avid car fan, and director Peter Yates began his career as a race car driver and team manager.

“I don’t want a crash-fest. I want a realistic pursuit,” Yates said at the time.

McQueen later said he saw the film as a modern Western, in which his character strapped on the Mustang like a gun belt. He drove the car during parts of the chase. You can recognize most of those scenes because you can see McQueen’s famous blue eyes in the rearview mirror. The mirror was removed for scenes with stunt drivers.

A famous shot in which McQueen misses a turn and leans out to look back as he reverses furiously to continue chasing the hit men’s Charger was a mistake. McQueen really did miss the corner and kept going to avoid ruining the painstakingly arranged shoot. That’s the only moment in the whole chase where the final edit of the movie made it appear faster than what happened, Bilson said.

Other facts about the chase scene:

  • In addition to McQueen’s Mustang and the villains’ Dodge Charger, there are eight other cars driven by stunt drivers.
  • The Charger loses eight hubcaps during the chase.
  • The portions within the city were shot in a 20- to 30-block section of the Pacific Heights neighborhood.
  • The crew shot in brief segments as SFPD closed a couple of blocks at a time.
  • The cars pass the same green VW Bug four times during the scene.
  • The long shot that shows both cars going airborne as they come down a steep hill required eight cameras.
  • No ramps were used for the jumps, just San Francisco’s natural geography.
  • About 50 crew members with walkie-talkies kept an eye out for oncoming traffic.
  • Modifications to the cars were minor, mostly stiffer shocks, springs and Firestone tires.
  • The script included a chase across the Golden Gate Bridge. Yates increased the amount of time on the hills when he couldn’t get permission for that.

Details define the car:

  • Unique metallic-flake dark green paint, a color not available on any other Ford. The Bullitt’s alternate color, black, is from Ford’s regular palette.
  • Specifications for the cue-ball shift knob were so demanding that several suppliers turned down the job
  • The cue ball is permanently attached to the shifter and doesn’t screw off, to discourage petty thieves.
  • The shifter has a sintered copper core for weight and feel. The plastic shell is molded around the core and gets a laser-etched shift pattern.
  • A Bullitt Mustang appears briefly in the instrument cluster when the engine starts, replacing other Mustangs’ pony logo.
  • A serial number on the dash.
  • Freer breathing, including an intake manifold from the exotic Shelby GT 350 Mustang boosts power 20 hp to 480.
  • Six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching.
  • Chrome accent edges on 19-inch gloss black wheels.
  • Honeycomb gloss-black grille.
  • Gunsight-style logo and stylized Bullitt badge evolved from 2008, the last time Ford built a Bullitt.
  • The rear valence, below the rear bumper, has a flat-black ceramic finish. “I’ve never gone to so much trouble to hide a beautiful piece of stainless steel,” Mustang chief engineer Carl Wildmann said.
  • Top speed is 163 mph. The Bullitt’s unique speedometer goes to 180 mph.
  • The leather seats were designed to look like retro 1968 seats, but have modern comfort and features such as power adjustment, heating and ventilation.

Ford plans a limited run for the 2019 and 2020 model years. Output is restricted by how many of the Bullitt’s unique parts suppliers can make.

I drove a green Bullitt with the MagneRide adjustable damping, navigation, B&O audio, blind spot alert and more. It stickered at $50,390, excluding destination charges.

The tuned exhaust note delivers satisfying rumbles when you ease off the gas and roars when wide open. Acceleration is immediate, and the upgraded six-speed manual’s rev-matching makes it easy to shift and keep running hard.

The suspension is comfortable over bumps and keeps the car securely planted in quick maneuvers, while six-piston red-painted Brembo brakes provide plenty of stopping power. The steering is light and precise, with a good on-center feel.

I drove it hard and fast on country and coastal roads outside San Francisco, but took it easy on the city’s famously narrow and crowded streets.

The new Bullitt is more than a match for the movie’s 1968 fastback, but only a fool would try to fill Steve McQueen’s driver’s seat.

Contact Mark Phelan: mmphelan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt at a glance

Vehicle type:
Rear-wheel-drive fastback.

Base price: $46,595

Engine tested: 5.0L V8

Power: 480 hp; 420 pound-feet or torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual with rev-matching

Assembly site: Flat Rock, Michigan

 

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Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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