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The 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt brought the Dark Highland Green homage car back for a second generation. However, the retro-styled S197 Mustang tribute car is more than just a nod to Steve McQueen’s sacred 1968 Fastback; it’s a performance bridge between the GT and Shelby GT500. So, is the Bullitt everything I hoped it would be a year later? Or is the green machine a swing and a miss? 

The 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt’s looks are its best feature, and the model is aging well

A 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt parks next to a set of firehouse doors.
An S197 Bullitt at a firehouse | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

Unlike the first Bullitt tribute car, the 2001 model, the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt wears the retro styling of the S197 generation. As a result, we get an homage car with classic lines closer to the 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 that Steve McQueen drove in the namesake film.

The Bullitt’s lack of exterior badging creates a clean, sinister look. Ford ditched the in-grille fog lamps and deck spoiler to better mimic the styling of the original 1968 Fastback. Today, the Bullitt’s retro aesthetic holds up, skirting the line between subtlety and muscle car cool. Also, the lowered ride height and stiffened suspension tend to coerce drivers into putting the Bullitt through its paces around corners. 

However, I find myself too tempted to slide the green pony car around corners with a healthy dose of throttle. In-corner drama is familiar territory for the Bullitt, too. The model’s live rear axle, relatively skinny stock rubber (P235/50-18 in all four corners), and generous torque make for easily-lit tires and slides. 

The Bullitt’s five-speed manual transmission and cinematic exhaust note stand the test of time

A Mustang Bullitt shows off its rear-end styling in front of a garage door.
S197 Bullitt | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

Driving the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt is a joyful experience, especially compared to the standard 3V (three-valve) GT models. The engineers at Ford upped the redline to 6,500 rpm from the GT’s 6,250. Moreover, with a factory cold air intake, tuning magic, and the Bullitt’s musical exhaust, the power figure rises from 300 to 315. 

Ford was serious about this exhaust setup, too; the Blue Oval allegedly spent $10 million developing the Bullitt’s pipes, per The Truth About Cars. It packs a factory H-pipe with integrated baffling and specially designed axle-back units that produce a growly movie homage soundscape. 

Still, even with the orchestral exhaust and engine sounds, the Bullitt’s most redeeming driving quality is its five-speed Tremec transmission. The notchy manual unit is akin to your friend who never fails to be a bad influence. Yes, you will want to row through the gears and enjoy the thrust made possible by a shorter, snappier 3.73-gear setup.  Better yet, while some 3V Mustangs have a history of spark plug issues and other problems, this Bullitt has been nothing but reliable.

Cargo space is tight, especially with the range-topping sound system

An S197 Bullitt Mustang's Shaker 1000 system cuts down on storage space.
A Shaker 1000 system cuts down on cargo capacity | Erik Sherman, MotorBiscuit

Still, the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt drops the ball in a couple of capacities, namely capacity. The standard coupe has around 13.1 cubic feet of trunk space. However, some Bullitts hit showrooms with the 1,000-watt Shaker audio system. While the fidelity and volume are commendable, it might not be worth it. 

The trunk-mounted speaker system cuts into the available space, limiting the amount (and shape) of articles you can stuff into the trunk. Further, I seldom use the stereo; like the chase in the “Bullitt” film, enough music comes from the model’s exhaust system. News doesn’t get better in the cabin. Tiny map pockets and a relatively shallow armrest storage bin don’t accommodate much.  

How many 2008 Mustangs were Bullitts?

Ford produced 5,808 Ford Mustang Bullitts in 2008. The Bullitt model was offered in Dark Highland Green and black, with numbered strut tower braces. 

This model is No. 564 of 5,808, an early Bullitt in the 2008 model year. Moreover, the numbered status of the Bullitt model will likely establish it as a collector’s car. 

What’s so special about a Bullitt Mustang?

The 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt, like the 2001 and more recent S550 Bullitt models, is a collectible movie homage car with performance qualities beyond the standard S197 Mustang GT. Furthermore, with limited numbers, the Bullitt will likely gain value in the coming years.

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