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First Drive! Steeda transforms the Bullitt from leading man to action hero with the Steve McQueen Edition

By Steve Turner, HOT ROD

Star Power: Steeda transforms the Bullitt from leading man to action hero with the Steve McQueen Edition

The headlights peer down a dark, tree-lined road. From a stop your scribe rolls into the throttle. The power surges and from the midrange up the power is intoxicating. Banging through several gears the world is a blur, but the performance is clear. The tires dig into the road as the car reaches chase-scene speeds.

Peeking in the rear-view mirror, the coast is clear, but the bad guys don't have a chance when this 2019 Mustang Bullitt flexes its muscle. However, this example isn't just a factory limited edition stallion, it is a special edition built with the star of its namesake movie in mind. This is the Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt Mustang from Steeda Performance Vehicles — and this one is supercharged.

From that first blast in the car, it was difficult to determine what was more impressive, the power on tap or the ease with which it was applied to the road. While the factory Bullitt delivers a generous 480 horsepower right off the dealer lot, the optional Whipple supercharger under the hood of the McQueen machine ramps up the output to 775 horsepower.

However, the supercharged horsepower and the signature Steeda suspension are only part of this story. This might be the first example with a supercharger under the hood, but this extra special edition takes the movie-inspired machine to another level in a way that the King of Cool would have loved.

"When Ford introduced the S550-based Bullitt Mustang at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, we knew it was inevitable that we would do a Steeda version of the car because the Bullitt customer is essentially no different from other Mustang enthusiasts in that they place a priority on performance," Bob Adams, President of Steeda Performance Vehicles, said. "As we discussed potential upgrades, it was a no-brainer to involve Chad McQueen and the Team at McQueen Racing into the development process, because of the valuable insights and expertise that they could bring to the table."

Having the insight of the actor's son in developing this version allowed Steeda to make performance and visual improvements that enhanced the Bullitt's undercover style without straying to far from its understated mission.

"Chad McQueen is an accomplished driver and is extremely knowledgeable about performance cars. To this day he still get a large amount of track time, plus he has tremendous insight as to what his father would have wanted to do to the Bullitt if he was alive today," Bob explained. "So when you mix the knowledge base of the Steeda and McQueen Racing organizations with the incredible insight and skills of Chad McQueen, you have the perfect formula needed to create the ultimate Bullitt Mustang for today."

Among the significant upgrades in visual firepower are a set of unique Steve McQueen Edition 20-inch wheels adorned with Steve McQueen Edition center caps and wrapped in Nitto NTTTG2 rubber, and an aggressive front splitter, and a signature rear emblem. If you know the Bullitt, they standout, if not they aren't overt.

"Chad was adamant that he wanted this car to be exactly what his father would drive today. From a design perspective, he wanted the Steve McQueen Edition to be the ultimate sleeper Mustang," Bob explained. "He wanted big horsepower, a suspension system that can handle the power with confidence, and as an added bonus, a four-point roll bar, rear-seat delete, and six-point harnesses. Chad oversaw the entire development process and once completed and while he was testing it on the track, he was all smiles and said, "You guys nailed it, this car is perfect in all regards"

In our brief experience behind the wheel the supercharged Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt not only applied that Whipple power to the pavement with ease and confidence, but it did so with little downside. Obviously the suspension is more taut and communicative of road imperfections, but the change is slight in comparison with the leap in performance.

"You are right about the feeling the suspension system provides when under power. The suspension feels to enhance its overall grip on the pavement and launch exceptionally hard. This is because our development teams spent considerable time with modifications to the suspension with the primary focus on power delivery and performance handling," Bob elaborated. "Every part that was installed is part of a cohesively engineered package specifically designed to work together for maximum traction without the annoying NVH issues that many manufacturers have with their performance packages."

That combination includes a host of Steeda's proven S550 suspension upgrades, including sway bars, camber plates, dual-rate springs, bump-steer kit, billet vertical links, and full IRS support. The suspension still offers compliance, but pounces like a predator when the power is applied with the right pedal.

It was especially fun to come charging into a corner, jump the binders, down shift with an auto-rev match assist and squeeze that supercharged power on in the corner exit. This combo just begs to cut loose on a racetrack — or in a movie car chase.

"We strategically followed the Steeda formula that is based on over 30 years of Mustang performance," Bob said. "And that is a comprehensive engineered and thoroughly tested package for high horsepower and aggressive driving situations."

Of course, in general driving the car excelled with comfort and all the toys you would want. It also exudes the kind of cool that makes you want to pop on a pair of aviator shades and go for a cruise, which we did on a sticky summer evening in Detroit. Fighting the urge to make a getaway in this special machine, we reluctantly returned the McQueen Edition key fob back over and returned to civilian life.

Suffice it to say that if you are a fan of the Mustang Bullitt but you want more firepower, the Steve McQueen Edition Bullitt — which starts at $22,995 on top of the base vehicle — turns Ford's leading man into an action hero.


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Autos News: First Drive! Steeda transforms the Bullitt from leading man to action hero with the Steve McQueen Edition
First Drive! Steeda transforms the Bullitt from leading man to action hero with the Steve McQueen Edition
Autos News
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