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Bullitt Baubles a Bargin

Bullitt Baubles a Bargin
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BULLITT BAUBLES A BARGAIN?

Recently I had the pleasure of the short term use of a 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt, a “tribute car” to the 1968 Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the 1968 movie “Bullitt”. Mr. McQueen, the movie, and the original Bullitt Mustang show no indication of losing any of their appeal in the foreseeable future. An auction in 2006 of Steve McQueen’s personal items resulted in the winning bidder paying $70,000 for a pair of Mr. McQueen’s sunglasses.

The local press car supplier deposited the car in my driveway, handed me the key and said “You’re going to have a lot of fun with this car.” I had one week of unlimited use and I planned on having as much fun as possible with this steed.

The recent Portland International Auto Show provided an opportunity for a close look at Ford’s new movie star car. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including local delivery, is $34,705. Information provided by the Ford Motor Company indicated that this car, without the Bullitt package, retails at $31,395. I’ve been very impressed with the retail price of new Mustangs over the past few years and, as a result, purchased a 2006 Mustang convertible in 2007.

The first impression was that the car did not scream out “Look at me, I’m a Bullitt!” It, instead, was subdued, and to the un-informed, gave more of the impression that it is a rather plain example of a Mustang. There is no rear deck spoiler (perhaps a good thing), no side stripes or badging, no prancing horse in the grill, and no exterior Bullitt identification other than the Bullitt logo on the faux gas cap. These omissions are part of what appeals to Mustang lovers and may go unnoticed by the general public.

One method of my research on press cars is to take them to car events, and the weekend provided three car shows to attend. Some of the press cars in the past have drawn crowds as soon as they are parked, while others seem to become invisible. How did the Mustang do? This is what I found most interesting in my week of stewardship; it was both passionately admired and totally overlooked. Many of the Mustang crowd took the time to look it over and ask questions. Many of the non-Mustang crowd paid very little attention to it. The viewer’s age didn’t seem to be a factor. Some were teenagers when the movie “Bullitt” was released but they seemed uninterested. Some current teenagers were all over the car and had a lot of questions. I watched two teens asking each other “Is it a Bullitt?” as they approached the car. One of them walked to the rear of the car, noticed the logo on the gas cap, and excitedly told his friend that it was, in fact, a real Bullitt. They both then excitedly examined every inch of the car.

Should the Ford Motor Company worry about the mixed reaction to the car? No, and none of Henry’s descendents need to lose any sleep over the possibility of unsold Bullitts rusting away in Dearborn, MI. The projected number of only 7,000 new Bullitts being manufactured will likely insure a market for every car built.

The question may be is the additional cost of a Bullitt over a similarly equipped Mustang worth the difference? The additional $3,310 expense of the exclusive Bullitt baubles includes the faux gas cap, exhaust tips, wheels, horseless grill, Highland Green paint (black is also available), 3.73 ratio limited slip rear axle and interior details. The Bullitt features many other dress up and high performance items but these are also available on Mustangs that don’t imply that Steve McQueen is behind the wheel. The Bullitt additions let the world know that they are looking at a very special car.

Is the extra money well spent? Will it insure the future collectibility of the car? Will the resale value be higher than other Mustangs? Is the link to the past Bullitt excitement worth the extra cost? There were dozens of cars manufactured in the 1960’s and 1970’s that had reasonably priced additions resulting in these cars now selling for two to three times more than comparable cars without the additions. And the approximately 10% increase in the overall purchase price is a small price to pay for the exclusivity of Bullitt ownership.

It sounds like a bargain to me. Or you can pay the price of two Bullitts for a pair of Steve’s sunglasses.