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Just like Steve McQueen

1968 was a year of many things: Jackie Kennedy became Jackie O., the Beatles released “The White Album” and the country lost Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.

It was also the year the movie “Bullitt” was released, starring Steve McQueen as San Francisco Lt. Frank Bullitt, who goes up against a ruthless politician while trying to protect a Mafia informant. While the plot doesn’t keep people talking 40 years later, the 10-minute car chase scene involving Bullitt’s 1968 GT390 Mustang Fastback and the villains’ 1968 440 Magnum Dodge Charger do. Considered one of the best car chases in movie history, especially with McQueen doing much of his own driving, the featured Mustang soon became known as the “Bullitt.”

To celebrate its place in cinematic history — as well as the car’s popularity — Ford recently introduced the 2008 Bullitt Mustang to the world — a limited production of 7,000 in fact. Local dealership Del Balso Ford got number 3,238.

“The chase scene is what people seem to remember about that movie, obviously, because it was real,” said Rick Burke, sales manager at Del Balso.

The 2008 Bullitt is reminiscent of 1968’s with its similar body style, the same dark Highland green color and a ball shifter. But the biggest similarity is something that sets the Bullitt apart from other Mustang models: its sound — this pony doesn’t whinny, it roars.

“In the movie, the Bullitt had that deep rumbling sound,” Burke explained. “The ’08 is a fuel-injected, 3-valve V8 engine with 315 horsepower.”

The dual exhaust features a specifically developed muffler with 3.5-inch chrome tips that doesn’t hinder the throaty voice of the Bullitt Mustang.

Like the original, the 5-speed manual Bullitt features no Mustang badges — no grill pony or the word Mustang anywhere. There is a circular Ford Bullitt emblem on back.

“We do get a lot of people looking at the car, or [they] just want to hear it,” Burke said. “The Mustang for 45 years has been a popular car and an American icon. This one is no different, because 40 years later, Ford is still making a Bullitt.”

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