"Please fasten your seatbelt." When Det. Lt. Frank Bullitt clips and tightens his single lap strap you know you’re about to witness one of the all-time car sequences on film. London N22 may not be San Francisco, but a drive in the new Mustang reveals plenty of the original car’s character.
Turning up at American Car Imports base in the north of the capital finds a selection of the latest machinery from over the water. The man behind it all, Anthony Cohen, is there to pick one of a selection of 2005 ‘Pony Cars’ in stock for a brief reprise of Peter Yates' 1968 thriller - or just about any other road film of the ‘60s.
The eagerly-awaited re-take on the best Mustang models of nearly forty years ago looks good in the metal. It’s an amalgam of the late ‘60s GT350/fastback with elements of ‘Boss’ produced a few years later. It’s not a big car by any standards (think Aston V8, perhaps in matters other than size alone), and slipping into the driver’s seat - on the left of course - you are confronted with a retro-look dash that is clean and clear behind a reasonably-sized leather-rimmed steering wheel. There are some nice touches such as the chrome bezels and aluminium facia, and turning the key produces a meaty warble from the 4.6 litre, 24-valve, 300bhp V8. You can’t get the car to ‘rock’ as the small block motor produces a modest 320 lb-ft of torque at a highish 4,500 rpm, but snicking the 5-speed into drive (a 5-speed manual is also offered) and flooring the throttle, rest assured it produces impressive performance. The changes are very smooth indeed and the 100 was brought up in no time at all, a foot firmly planted on the carpet will have the ‘box changing up at around 6,000.
The old-fashioned live axle has been commented on in the press but it a) helps give the car its tremendous value for money, and b) is what the original had, so what the hell? It produces a slightly busy ride on uneven surfaces but we did a bit of ‘McQueening’ (turning off the main road up into hillier side streets of the town) and there’s no picking up the inside wheel, axle tramp or any other relics from days gone by. And readers should be reminded that most film buffs concur the original ‘Bullitt’ Mustang engine noise was dubbed on afterwards (from a GT40) - so don’t complain that this one sounds too quiet. Rest assured, the V8 beat is alive and kicking in 2005.
Nostalgia is the plus point with the new Mustang. You’ve got just enough of the spirit of the original coming through with all the benefits of a modern car, such as incredible 100,000 mile intervals between major services, and the three-year, RAC-backed, Europe-wide warranty that ACI provide with the cars they import. To many of you, reading this outside the UK, LHD is not a problem, and realistically it’s not really an issue in Britain. It’s what the car is all about; it’s part of its DNA. And for those of you considering how a Mustang fits into motoring’s social hierarchy, well it’s around the same price as an Audi TT, Nissan 350Z or BMW 3-series coupé, it’s got as good (or better) performance, four pretty good seats, a big boot, the auto or manual option plus much more - and it’s something I’d rather have any day. I would remind readers of the mid-Sixties era when luxury cars could be an E-Type, Ferrari or Rolls-Royce - or any American.
The car tested was a V8 ‘GT Premium’ with automatic transmission, full leather interior (as part of the ‘Upgrade Package' standard to ACI cars) and the ‘Shaker’ 1,000 watt audio system that’s MP3 compatible. Please call Anthony for a quote but we’re talking "less than £30,000, on the road with full European regulation compliance and three-year guarantee". ‘Our’ car was Torch Red with Dark Charcoal leather, but there are 10 colo(u)rs in all, including Mineral Grey Metallic, Windveil Blue Metallic and my favourite, Legend Lime Metallic.
With grateful thanks to Anthony Cohen of American Car Imports. All ACI's stock can be viewed on Classic Driver by clicking HERE, and they can be contacted directly at -