Love to hear people's Bullitt stories. Here's mine...
I grew up in Detroit, the Motor City. Cars are everything here and nearly everyone works in the industry. By the time I got hired in to work at Ford Racing in early 2011, I became the 4th generation of my family to work for the Blue Oval. My mom was a financial analyst for Ford, my grandfather was a clay modeler who worked on the original Mustang and my Great Grandfather worked in the wood shops, making dies for components of early FoMoCo vehicles.
Ever since the 2008 Bullitt was unveiled in late 2007, I had known that I wanted one, but I figured being a young guy, just out of college, it wasn't going to be possible for me. If the car was out of reach, insurance would also have to be similarly outrageous.
Luckily enough, with my job doing enthusiast outreach for Ford Racing, I was tasked with going to the 2011 Bullitt Nationals at the Tail of the Dragon to represent the Ford Performance Group, take photos, and write a column for the Ford Racing Enthusiast Newsroom. I was given a Shelby GT-H and drove down from Detroit where i had an absolute blast, meeting lots of the people who still frequent this site today. After the Bullitt Nats, I also had to head to Charlotte for the Taurus SHO Nats, too (they're just as passionate about their SHOs as we are about our Bullitts. But after a weekend hanging out with all of you, I knew for sure that a Bullitt was the car for me. Not only is the car just the coolest thing out there, but the people who own them are really great, too.
The following winter, my Pontiac Grand Am, which I'd been driving since I was 16 finally kicked the bucket, and I needed a new car. Unfortunately, it was winter and I needed to get to work every day, so I didn't have time to find the car I really wanted, so I wound up leasing a new Focus sedan. It was a nice car. It definitely had way more technology than I'd ever had in a car before, and as a young professional, I could appreciate all of that. But it was just a car. Nothing about it got me excited to drive it every day.
Then about a year later, I was bored one day and decided to look up pricing on 2008 Bullitts. Mostly still a pipe dream, I figured, but it can't hurt to see where prices are. I always figured, though, that one day I would be able to afford one, but insurance would be the thing that kept me from being able to do it. I was a young guy - precisely the kind the insurance companies surely love - and the kind that would result in premiums being jacked up to impossible to handle levels.
I knew exactly what I wanted. It had to be a Bullitt. It had to be an 08. It had to be green. And it could have no other additional options. It had to be a very well cared for car and it had to be completely stock. Much to my luck, I wound up finding one for sale on Autotrader in Knoxville, TN that checked all of those boxes. It had 42,000 miles on it, was in perfect shape and the owner (who is also a member on IMBOC) had listed it for sale for $18,000, which seemed like quite a good deal. Most similar cars I was seeing were probably $20-24K at the time, so at $18K, it was a steal.
I contacted him to see if I could have a local friend (and Bullitt owner) come over and take a look at it for me. It looked great in photos, but I wasn't totally comfortable buying a car based solely on photos from a website advertisement. My buddy went and checked it out and gave the thumbs up. It wasn't an absolutely perfect car, but that was fine by me as I planned to drive the car. It wasn't going to be a garage queen for me.
After more discussion with the owner, I had decided that this was the car for me, but there were a couple of hurdles in the way. First, was that infamous insurance premium. I called my agent to get a quote, fully well expecting he was going to crush my dreams of owning my dream car. Although, much to my surprise, when he got back to me, the cost to fully insure a 2008 Mustang Bullitt was almost exactly the same as I was currently paying for my brand new Focus! Upon hearing this, I was amazed that it seemed like buying a Bullitt was actually something I could afford!
But what about the Focus that I had just a leased a few months earlier? I was doing pretty well on money, but I didn't have any interest in making two car payments (and two insurance payments). Well, much to my luck, a friend of mine was looking for a new car, and she couldn't get Ford employee pricing, so when I started talking about finding someone to take over the lease, she immediately jumped at it. Problem solved.
At this point, I committed to buying the car (barring any glaring issues when I arrived in Knoxville). I got everything in order with my bank and insurance and purchased a one-way plane ticket from Detroit to Knoxville. I stayed at an airport hotel that night and the seller was going to pick me up the following morning at the hotel, so that I could drive the car, look it all over and if all went well, we could make the transaction.
I didn't sleep very well that night. I was so excited for what the following day would bring. The following morning, I stood outside the hotel, waiting for my ride to arrive. I could hear it before I could see it, and then it came into view. There it was. It was exactly what I'd wanted for years. The car stopped in front of me, the owner and I exchanged pleasantries and then I got into the driver seat. Everything felt so... right. It just completely backed up everything I had imagined about what driving a Bullitt would be like.
Once settled, I depressed the clutch, put the car in first gear, and we set off. Except we didn't. Because I immediately stalled the car... How embarrassing! The owner was a guy in his forties, well established, owned a few performance cars and now I sat there terrified as I had just stalled his prized Mustang. What was he thinking? Would he have cold feet and decide not to sell his car to some punk kid? It had been quite a while since I had driven anything with a clutch pedal, so I got everything back in order and tried again. This time, we rolled away without incident, and it didn't happen again.
On the initial drive, the whole thing was super overwhelming. I'm driving a car I'd yearned to drive for years and that alone was amazing, but this was also a car I was considering buying, so I also needed to be paying attention to everything the car did. Was anything out of place? Did anything not perform as it should? It was all a blur.
We arrived back at his house where he showed me the rest of his cars and bikes (among them was a black 1968 Charger that was being restored to "Bullitt-spec"). Then we went back to the car so I could thoroughly look it over.
As my buddy mentioned previously, the car wasn't completely perfect. It had a few small stone chips and some small scratches (as well as a rather large one on the front bumper). But as I said before, I wasn't looking for perfection. I was looking for something I could drive and enjoy and while I planned to keep it in as immaculate as I could, it was by no means planned to be a garage queen. There was nothing I could see that was going to prevent me from purchasing this car.
So we went inside and did all of the paperwork and a few minutes later, I was a Bullitt owner! It was April 20, 2013 - a date, which I'd always remember. After finishing up, my next plan was to go to the Tennessee DMV to get a temporary "transport" plate so that I could legally drive the car home. After an achingly long wait in line, I got up to the counter only to find out that they could not grant me a temporary plate. The reason: The letter from Ford Credit stating that the lien on the car had been completely paid off by the previous owner was not signed by hand, by an actual person. It had a signature that was printed along with the letter. I found this to be completely ridiculous, but no amount of reasoning with them was going to change the outcome, so I walked out and pondered what my next move would be.
I had planned to make the drive home from Knoxville to Detroit a very fun one, stopping off at various landmarks for photos as well as a stop in Cincinnati to visit with Tony Alonso and No Rain Rick. My co-workers even had a bet going for who could guess the number of Bullitt photos I would post on Facebook on the way home. But now with effectively no license plate on the car, and a 500 mile journey home, I figured I probably shouldn't push my luck. So I decided a straight-shot drive home, following all posted speed limits is my only option outside of arranging to have the car delivered back to Detroit.
500 miles and about 8 hours later, I made it home with the car. I only got pulled over once (in Ohio), but was let go with no ticket after explaining the situation.
In the four years since, the car has been everything I'd hoped it would be, and more. It's been an absolute blast to drive. My wife and I have take it on road trips, camping trips, she learned to drive a manual on it, it's been to Woodward, IMSA races and much, much more. It's done everything I've asked of it while being extremely reliable. It's a car that, with any luck, I'll never part with (even though I've tried to sell it a few times already - and my wife won't let me). I've made a few modifications over the last couple of years, mostly brakes and suspension, but the car is still very close to the ethos of what a Bullitt should be.
In spring of 2018, I'll finally have it paid off and it'll be all mine. It's been everything I hoped it would be and more, and at this point, it's not just a car, it's part of the family.
2008 Mustang Bullitt #2065