Steve McQueen’s Bullitt 1968 Mustang GT Vs The New Ford Mustang Bullitt Limited Edition 2019

Comparing the style and engineering of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang from 1968 to the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt.

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt beside classic original 1968 Bullitt Mustang
Carlos Osorio / AP Images

Comparing the style and engineering of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang from 1968 to the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt.

Steve McQueen’s 1968 Mustang GT, featured in the movie Bullitt, set the stage for Ford’s amazing success with the Mustang. That success was also earned by Ford engineers who designed one of the most popular Fords of all time. The 1968 Mustang offered many different packages and options so that not all Mustangs were equal in 1968.

The 1968 Mustangs were a widely varied lot. There were no less than eight different Ford engine options and four different transmissions for the 1968 Mustang. There were also two different body styles: Fastback, like the one Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt, and the standard coupe.

The 1968 Mustang standard Ford Coupe sold new for $2,578 while the GT 500 KR Fastback sold for $4,472, according to Classic Mustang. Steve McQueen’s Bullitt was a Fastback. Today’s 2019 Bullitt will cost considerably more, of course.

1968 Mustang Engine Options according to Classic Mustang ranged from 200 cubic inches to 428 cubic inches.

“200 cu in (3.3 L) Thriftpower I6
289 cu in (4.7 L) Windsor V8
302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8 (2V)
302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8 (4V)
390 cu in (6.4 L) FE V8 (2V)
390 cu in (6.4 L) FE V8 (4V)
427 cu in (7.0 L) FE V8
428 cu in (7.0 L) FE Cobra Jet V8”

The 2019 Mustang Bullitt, which was fashioned to resemble Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, comes with only one type of engine, but that engine is pretty impressive, according to Road Show.

“[The 2019 Mustang Bullitt features a] 5.0-liter V8 engine, including a Shelby GT350 intake manifold, Open Air induction and 87mm throttle bodies. These changes are good for 475 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, with a top speed of 163 miles per hour.”

Perhaps new technology in the 2019 Mustang Bullitt might outperform the raw power of even Ford’s Cobra Jet V8 Mustang engine but then again, it would be hard to prove.

A 1968 Mustang with a 428 Cobra Jet engine was hard to beat in its time, though both the 1968 440 Dodge Charger and the 1968 Chevrolet Camaro were also top contenders for fastest car in those days. Were old school Mustangs and Camaros superior to modern vehicles?

The 2019 Mustang Bullitt is a limited edition and patterned after the Fastback body style driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt. The 2019 Bullitt only comes with a manual transmission, and only comes in two colors, black or green. Half a century after that Steve McQueen movie made Mustang even more famous, the 2019 Mustang Bullitt is keeping the tradition alive, even though a lot has changed.

2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt featured in green just like the 1968 original.
2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt Carlos Osorio / AP Images

In Steve McQueen’s day, all cars including the Mustang GT were made of much heavier gauge steel than today’s modern vehicles. While 1968 Chevrolet Camaros were experimenting with lighter materials, including plastics and lighter gauge steel, the 1968 Mustang was literally heavy metal. The 1968 Mustang GT had a curb weight of 2,758 pounds, according to Classic Mustang.

Thus, the 1968 Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt was durable. The 1968 Mustangs held up well in accidents, rarely rusted all the way through and therefore many of those now 50-year-old cars similar to the one Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt are still on the road and still running smoothly. Will the same be true of the 2019 models? Only time will tell.

While Steve McQueen’s 1968 Mustang handled very well for its time, we can assume the suspension and steering in the 2019 Mustang Bullitt are far superior due to breakthroughs in the engineering of autos. Still, for durability and ease of repair, there is a lot to be said for the simplicity of what is under the hood and toughness in the suspension of the 1968 Ford Mustang GT.

1968 Mustang what's under the hood,
1968 Mustang showing what’s under the hood. Keith Bell / Shutterstock

The 2019 Bullitt Mustang comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but the original 1968 Mustang came with four different types of transmissions, including the four-speed manual transmission in the Mustang Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt. The rest were three-speed transmissions including two automatic options.

The body design differences between the 1968 Mustang GT and the 2019 Bullitt Mustang are rather obvious, it is the headlights and the front grill that seem to have changed the most. While the 2019 Bullitt is very aerodynamic, there is a lot to be said for the functional styling of the round headlights of the 1968 Mustang.

The 2019 Mustang Bullitt was created to honor Steve McQueen’s original 1968 Bullitt, but could it compete with it?