The Mustang Bullitt Is Best Appreciated With a Smooth Jazz Accompaniment to Its Exhaust Note

Lalo Schifrin called, he needs you to cue it up post haste.

Any jazz will do, but the Bullitt original motion picture soundtrack is ideal when driving one of these.

Car: 2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Location: Angeles National Forest, CA
Photog: Peter Nelson (Instagram + Twitter: @16vPete)
Camera: Canon 6D + EF 50mm 1.8II AF

I remember when the newer S550 Mustang Bullitt debuted, some journalists gave it a hearty diagnosis of “people don’t get the Bullitt reference anymore, and it’s not even a good movie anyway.”

I wholeheartedly disagree with both of these points. First off, the movie still holds up for anyone who’s a fan of stylized, period crime thrillers with unique camera work. Bullitt‘s very much unlike movies of the same vintage, and the cinephile in me really enjoys that.

The lack of dialogue but ample use of late-’60s jazz is another thing I dig about the film. Let the actors act and lean heavy on a catchy jazz accompaniment.

Solid integration of background noise is very present in this film as well, which ups the realism and puts the viewer at street level with Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Don Gordon, Robert Vaughn, and a brief/minor appearance by Robert Duvall. Fellow nerds often give William Friedkin’s 1971 crime thriller The French Connection all the props for doing this, but Bullitt‘s director Peter Yates did it three years prior.

Ironically, both are known for their epic car chase camera work. Which brings me back to my other point: who can deny Bullitt‘s chase scene? Sure, it’s got some motion picture oopsies, like the number of hubcaps the evil doer’s Dodge Charger loses. But man, it’s truly wild that they were able to pull it all off in 1968. Especially with the camera and safety equipment available at the time.

Bullitt‘s a great film, and its soundtrack is brilliant; I’d say the Dark Highland Green, 480 horsepower, six-speed manual S550 is a solid ode. Plus, it’s got a great sound system for cranking said soundtrack.

The Mustang Bullitt Is Best Appreciated With a Smooth Jazz Accompaniment to Its Exhaust Note
Peter Nelson
Peter Nelson

Peter Nelson has been wrenching on and playing with cars since he started driving them quickly between the cones at Chicagoland autocross events in his late teens. Nowadays, he can be found wringing out his Mazda2 at tracks all over California. His writing background includes Winding Road, Donut Media, and Autolist.com. He's also an avid cyclist and '80s/'90s action film connoisseur. Contact the author here.