Retrobuilt Bullitt: Based on a 2008 Mustang
Nostalgia can be one heck of a drug. Released in 1968, Bullitt is an action thriller that by most accounts was a fairly average film with one incredible scene. For 10 minutes and 53 seconds, viewers watched Steve McQueen chase the movie’s antagonists through the hills of downtown San Francisco while driving a 1968 Highland Green Mustang fastback. Since that scene enchanted moviegoers 51 years ago, every movie car chase has been compared against it. And while the chase equally features both the Mustang and a black 440 Magnum V8-powered Dodge Charger, the Ford is the one that has become a legend.
Ford itself has offered three special edition Bullitt packages for the Mustang. The first was in 2001, then 2008 for the 40th anniversary, and then again for 2018 for the 50th. Although all three offer similar upgrades in performance, suspension tuning, and visual cues to the original ’68, the 2008, with Ford’s retro-design of the S197 Mustang, comes the closest to evoking the aesthetic of the original. This was the model that Mustang enthusiast Chuck Heath and his wife, Renee was sold on, and in 2008, he brought it home to compliment his 1967 Mustang coupe.
For 10 years, they enjoyed the Bullitt, traveling to various Mustang and Bullitt related events across the U.S. including a cross county visit to Chino Hills, CA for the ‘Legends Live’ Route 66 tour. A chance meeting in Augusta, GA, however, changed the projection of the 2008’s future. Chuck met the owners of Retrobuilt Motors, and had the chance to check out two of their latest projects, both fifth generation Mustangs that had been converted to look like their 1960s predecessors. The seed was planted, and after talks between the two parties, Retrobuilt started designing the 2008 Bullitt into a proper tribute to the original movie car.
Retrobuilt began work on the car, removing nearly every exterior piece and panel, leaving only the original roof. Boutique fiberglass panels were molded onto the 2008 body, period-correct front and rear bumpers were added, and custom aluminum trim, door handles and mirrors completed the look. The whole package was resprayed in Highland Green (of course).
18x9-inch American Racing Torq Thrust wheels were wrapped in 255/45ZR18 Nitto NT555 G2 rubber to complete the look and update the performance from stock tires.
Not content to leave the package at that, Chuck has added other performance goodies which includes a full BBK exhaust from the headers back, Brenspeed Detroit Rocker Cams, and custom tune from Johnny Lighting Performance. A MGW short throw shifter tightens up the 5 speed manual.
In addition to complete obvious exterior rebuild, Chuck pays tribute to Bullitt’s history with signatures from various important players in the marque’s history. His personal favorite is that of Sean Kiernan, the current owner of the original hero car from the movie, serial number 125559.
Additionally, the engine’s front sway bar makes for a fun recreation of the dramatic car chase scene at car shows, including a model of the VW Bug that ended up as an innocent bystander in numerous cuts.
Although the conversion would only fool the most inattentive of car enthusiasts, that was never Chuck’s intent with the car. Chuck wasn’t a Bullitt Mustang fan when he originally purchased his Mustang, but he has discovered an incredible community, and Retrobuilt’s work just gave him an avenue to do something remarkable. The company’s creations provide a nearly unmatched level of vintage aesthetics with all of the benefits of the modern automobile. This conversion isn’t simply a body kit, rather it shows off a level of exterior customization that’s largely forgotten in the modern automotive landscape. Chuck and Retrobuilt should be proud that they have added another chapter to the great legacy of Bullitt.
Check out more shots of Chuck's incredible 2008 Mustang Bullitt in the gallery below, and see more Bullitt-inspired goodness with the brand new 2019 model!