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The 1968 Steve McQueen film “Bullitt” is many things to many people. However, the car community has co-opted the cop action flick for one spectacular, 11-minute reason. I’m, of course, referring to the epic car chase between McQueen’s Lt. Frank Bullitt in his 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 and a pair of baddies in a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440. Well, that classic bit of film represents the new face of the modern muscle car market: Mustang vs. Charger.

The iconic car chase scene in Bullitt is reflective of the modern muscle car segment

A Ford Mustang, the nameplate from the famed film "Bullitt," dashes up a city street.
2024 Ford Mustang GT | Ford

You don’t have to talk to too many car enthusiasts to get a list of the best movies for car enthusiasts. You’ll likely get many “Gone in 60 Seconds,” “Bullitt,” and (sigh) “Fast and the Furious” recommendations. There’s a chance a Mopar fan or two will tout the automotive action in “Vanishing Point.”

However, “Bullitt” pits a Highland Green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 against a black 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440. It’s an iconic showdown, like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader– or Martin Brody and a 25-foot Great White Shark. More importantly, the matchup is a microcosm for the new face of muscle cars.

Specifically, 2024 marks the start of the seventh-generation (S650) Ford Mustang. Fortunately, Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, doubled down on the longevity of the V8 in the Mustang lineup. That’s right; the V8-powered Mustang will survive into the model’s seventh-gen span. Moreover, while Dodge discontinued the LD Charger and LA Challenger in 2023, the Charger will return as a coupe. 

Therein lies the epic reunion: the 2025 muscle car market will be the Ford Mustang vs. the Dodge Charger. What’s more, the angular coupe styling of the next-generation Charger means the pairing hasn’t been closer to the 1968 movie grudge match in years. 

Unfortunately, the soundtrack won’t match the action

The Charger SRT EV Concept shows off its angular styling.
Dodge Charger SRT EV Concept | Stellantis

Before fans get too excited at the prospect of staging a “Bullitt” rematch for YouTube, there’s a catch. Dodge confirmed that the next-gen Charger will offer fully electric options. On top of the whirring electric options, the new Charger may also pack a derivation of the Stellantis’s Hurricane twin-turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine. 

That means unless the Mopar powers that be include a next-generation V8 in the mix, the soundtrack of a Bullitt-style rematch will be a V8 vs. I6 affair. Swing and a miss. 

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