DETROIT – It has been the best selling sports car in the U.S. for 22 years. And its success has fueled the resurrection of both the Dodge Charger and soon the Chevrolet Camaro. Without a doubt, Ford's Mustang has ruled the Pony Car kingdom for more than a generation.
Although the overall styling has changed over the decades, Ford has ruled the roost with slight variation in its Mustang philosophy during that time. In short, Ford keeps the Mustang simple with V6, a V8, a five speed manual or optional automatic transmission, an appetizing color palette and a special model tossed in here or there.
In 2009, Ford continues to offer its Mustang Bullitt. Inspired by the 1968 film of the same name that featured one of the most memorable car chase scenes in cinematic history, the 2009 Mustang Bullitt is powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 with 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Both the engine and the suspension are modified to comprise a sharp handling Mustang with an impressive engine note.
This is a limited edition model. The 2008 Bullitt, had a limited run of 7,700 units, Only 3,000 Mustang Bullitt are planned this model year.
I had the car for one week and really didn't find anything to quibble about. Acceleration was bullet-like. The sport tuned suspension was stiff but not rough. In other words, my Mustang Bullitt tended to roll over bumps without causing me a lot of discomfort. I could feel how the car was interacting with the road but it wasn't a rough ride. As nutty as it sounds, I could feel the road, I could feel what the car was doing on the road, but I wasn't bounced around.
It took me a while to get used to five-speed manual transmission. The first couple of days I wanted to shift into sixth gear. But once I adapted, I found the fourth gear most sufficient for street driving and I used the fifth gear as overdrive. The car was quite manageable at low speeds which I think is a true test of practicality.
Still, I would recommend parking the rear-wheel-drive Bullitt during the slush, snow and ice of inclement weather. Lots of torque and lots of snow is not a good combination.
The Bullitt has an aluminum finish covering the top half of the face of the instrument panel and a matching aluminum gear shift ball. At times that ball was awfully cold and I had the car in late October. I can't imagine what it would feel like in late January. It's driving gloves to me, if you're going to drive the Bullitt during cool or cold weather.
There was a special Highland Green paint job, too. Only the Bullitt Mustang has it. Modified 18-inch micro-machined Euro-flange Bullitt wheels, dark gray painted calipers, modified badging with unique satin finish and Bullitt nomenclature and unique 3.5-inch stainless steel exhaust tips complete the Bullitt package.
The Mustang is listed as a coupe but it's really a 2+2. There's no way that any adult is going to get into the back seat without doing serious contortions. However, there was a fairly decent amount of truck space and the car was very comfortable with two people in the front seats.
My test model was equipped with satellite radio, an in-dash six disc CD player, ambient lighting and there was an auxiliary jack in the center console where I plugged in my iPod.
If there was a downside, it was not unexpected -- gas mileage. Although the Mustang Bullitt had an EPA rating of 15/23 for city and highway driving, Ford said that most drivers could expect to get 12 to 18 mpg. That's closer to reality.
Still, the Mustang is an American Classic and the Bullitt is a special edition that will eventually be faded out. It may not be a bad idea for collectors and enthusiasts to get one now while they're still available. Prices start at $29,170.