We got to take a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt on the road for a week, here is our story:
The energy and momentum are strong for the American Original Pony Car, the Ford Mustang and nowhere more pronounced than at a gathering of Mustang enthusiasts like the American Muscle 2019 Mustang Gathering held at Maple Grove Dragway in Berks County Pennsylvania.
This annual event has been running for a dozen years, and while it is produced by an aftermarket product supplier, American Muscle, you would think it would be all about selling stuff. While there is plenty of commerce going on, it is more of a backdrop to the role that the enthusiasts play, and it is all done with the focus on the Make A Wish Foundation. With more than three thousand Mustangs on hand, mostly late-model, but a few of the 1980’s forward. And only a handful of earlier generation models in the display parking fields, you can feel the love that each owner has in their vehicle.
American Muscle is the perfect spot to learn more about the owner culture, and Ford put me in a 2019 Mustang Bullitt to attend the event, which resulted in Specialty Parking Pass, so we were right up front and center of this festival of pony cars. Here the Dark Highland Green V8 powered muscle machine was surrounded by thirty or so highly vetted Mustangs each selected because of their outstanding features, that only true aficionados recognized. We were parked in the middle of the carnival mid-way between the Dyno Runs, and the drag strip, and just down from the vendor booths and on the way to the food lane.
Something that was not surprising is that Mustang owners are very particular who works on their car. Ford Motor Company shared with us that it is very hard to get owners to even bring their Mustang in for the airbag recall as they are concerned about damage to their car.
I found that the owners of these vehicles are friendly and willing to share tips and show off their modifications, some vendor purchased, some like the GT350 next to me, whose bearded owner was so concerned that his air filter would get debris in the creases, he carefully planned and quite professionally fitted pantyhose around it. I kidded him throughout the day about his Pantyhose Performance Upgrade. He admitted he was to shy to buy the nylons himself, so he sent his girlfriend to Walmart with very specific instructions on brand and color to buy. After that, I saw other applications of air filter covers that were nowhere near as neat and clean. And it prompted me to look at the filter on MP002; it was a good thing I did not open the hood at the show, it would have been embarrassing as its filter was not debris free.
Who are the owners of Mustangs?
Well, they are as American as the original pony car itself. Being summer, this event was not any different than being at the local sandlot baseball diamond or neighborhood park for basketball. Mustang Owners are as American as they come, Canadian too. They traveled from all over for this single model gathering, just to be with each other. While the auto enthusiast community tends toward the male, there was no shortage of women in attendance, and with their cars — all age groups, just about as much of the melting pot that is the USA.
Mustangs of Every color, and trim level.
Special award opportunities with several judged classes, as well as the chance to put private vehicles on the Dyno to see if the work over the winter and those mods had increased horsepower. The drag strip where both parade laps and hot laps were a part of the scene. Event non-Mustang, Jet Engine dragsters loudly blew down the strip at great speed.
Shopping, Shopping, Shopping
Vendors of every kind that cater to enthusiasts of the Mustang, from wheels, and suspension to exhaust and other specialty parts. Tee-shirts to tires. American Muscle had a huge tent that featured its scratch and dent, or one of a kind items in classic flea market setting. Piled high on tables for people to paw through looking for that special bargain. A buddy of the owner of the GT500 parked next to me came back announcing a great deal on tires and wheels, and they debated if indeed he should spend for a set when he had the stock set in his garage. I still have my eye on an American Muscle Stick Shift T-Shirt, that I should have bought while there, as the price was better than it is to be bought online and shipped.
Why Ford Mustang?
The Mustang was a major twentieth-century turning point from a post-war automotive world. That sent those who bought one headed into what would become the space age. Back then, the young demographic coming of age was looking for their car, not one with fins or holes in its side, like their parents. They were looking for a sportiness that provided them seating four with enough room to carry something in the trunk. Ford had eked out an unattractive low-end uninspired compact car for the masses as the decade began, with a slightly more modern chassis and power plant. Simple and cheap to operate this became the base on which those first Mustangs were built on.
As the decade marched on, and the modern war in Viet Nam became its signature, the Mustang became an escape for many who wanted something with power and sport styling. By the end of the decade, Mustang muscles bulged in size and horsepower. With the early 70’s they were large and all-powerful competing with the Camaro, AMX Javelin, and numerous Dodge and Plymouth muscle cars. Peculiar foreign cars were now starting to take the eye to get a strong foothold on US shores. What grew more than anything else was the car culture, with cars, were becoming stars in their own right. And on the big screen, they played a role equal to that of the male star. Men found that being identified with certain cars defined who they were, with that product placement became a Madison Avenue man’s marketing dream. Racing movies and stars like Paul Newman and others were billboard legends. From a little VW beetle to the roaring Ford Mustang in Bullitt. Woody wagon beach buggies and
Then in the 1970s, the US was hit hard with gas rationing and sky-rocking prices. Drivers saw dollar signs on a gallon of gas when just months before a dollar would increase by several gallons, looked too small econoboxes and Japanese cars ruled the roads. Ford quickly downsized the Mustang, and by the 1980s it had right-sized with the debut of the long-lived Fox-body Mustang. As the 1990s loomed, US automotive companies partnered with foreign ones. Ford and Mazda began the process of a joint build in the same American factory. The mere idea of this travesty whipped Mustang owners and enthusiasts into a frenzy, sending hate mail to Dearborn. Ford quickly realized that Mustang was not to be toyed with, and with Mustang owners revolting at the thought of a Mazda shared platform for their beloved car quickly brought forth a new model, the Ford Probe.
Our 2019 test vehicle was an early prototype dark highland green production number MP002 (Bullitt’s are numbered, and owners are very aware of that.) It only had two options a $2,100 Bullitt Electronics Package, and the $1,695 MagneRide dampening system, bringing the $46,595 price up to $51,485 with the $1095 destination and delivery fee. The other option would have been the RECARO® Leather-trimmed Front Sport Seats a $1595 option. Not a great option for a touring car, but if you spent a lot of time at the track with it, a great choice.
This is not a car that you just get in and drive. You are in the know of what is going on at all times, not just because the 5.0 L TI-VCT V8 engine and 6-Speed Manual transmission with the white cue ball shift knob, gave the car a lot of heft and power. Which was apparent in low-speed situations, not an easy car to drive in the city as you never could unleash it, and this car wants to run. The shifting was surprisingly easy, even with the very strong clutch. The Bullitt was a blast on the highway, but where it was the most fun is the twisty back roads.
Outside the Bullitt is not blingy at all, if you did not know what it was, you might just think it was another Mustang. No question on the line, but no pony insignia (except on the projection puddle light at night that puts a Mustang on the ground by your door. Only the Bullitt button in the center of the rear, where at one time would have been a gas cap. The other add on was the hood Louvers, which looked good, but did nothing to enhance air into the engine.
No Way To Be A Quiet PlayBoy
Of course, it’s classic fastback design is recognizably mustang. Where the attention comes is when you fire it up, with the gurgle and growl of the engine, which brought out every male within range. Supposedly there is a quiet setting in the active valve exhaust, though I never found it. And I heard from my neighbors they or their dogs, knew when it was coming or going. And the rumble of the five-liter engine is as much a part of the Mustang Lifestyle as anything. Not a loud, obnoxious blast, but a very seductive growl is pure Ford Mustang.
Ride and Drive Experience
Inside it seats four in comfortable dark highland green leather-trimmed with accent stitching, heated and cooled front bucket seats. A 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar control, and a 6-way power front-passenger seat and two tightly in the 50/50 split-bench folding rear seat. The ride was strong, smooth, and balanced with the available MagneRide® Damping System which responds one thousand times per second. MagneRide® is a trademarked technology of BWI Group. Between the seats and the BULLITT Electronics Package that includes: B&O Play™ Premium Audio System by HARMAN which is a 12Speakers with a trunk-mounted subwoofer system that includes a CD Player, HD Radio™ and includes a five (5)-year prepaid subscription to SiriusXM, it was great for long drives.
I thought this was a sports car…. But I am becoming a fan of Ambient Lighting Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link® not to mention the with the BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert (CTA)
You Ain’t Going anywhere Quietly
The class-exclusive* active valve performance exhaust lets you control the volume of the Mustang exhaust. I tried my best to set it for Quiet Start, needless to say, that was no fun, so setting it for normal, custom, Sport or the Track setting. Speaking of Trac, it even comes with Track Apps™ Even if you never take it to a racecourse.
This was one of my favorite press cars that I have had over the past six years getting them. It got more attention than any car except the Lexus LC500h, and that was just women. Everyone wanted to drive this pony. Mustangs are an American institution, no matter what you get from the basic stripped-down model to the Shelby GT500 (and that is a dream come true) you will be celebrating modern American automobiles. (as we work on this story, the Father of the Mustang Lee Ioccoca passed away. It was his vision of what consumers wanted in a fun and useable car that made this line of vehicles possible, Interesting that as Ford phases out passenger cars from the US Market, the Mustang is not going away anytime soon.