Can anyone here please explain the facts concerning the mods made to the cars in Bullitt ('68 Mustang and '68 Charger). I'm wearing very thin with my Chrysler mates and other sources, who are persistant to the 'facts' that the Mustang was so heavily modified to 'keep up' with the Charger, with it's 'pathetic 390'. My '62 T-Bird has a 390 FE, which i am very happy with, reliability, fuel economy, power to move a very heavy car. With all due respect to the Chargers of the era, i'm sure a Mustang with a very mild 390, wouldn't have too much trouble keeping pace with a bigger car, such as a Charger around the streets of San Francisco. I'm just sick of the total disrespect shown to the Mustang in this great movie! Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
probably would have shown that the 440 was indeed a faster car but not THAT much faster. I've seen numerous tests of the 390 GT and all were C-6 with dead gears and still managed 15.0's. CARS had a whole series on a '67 and eventually it went 13.24 at 103 or so. Again with C-6. I think it baselined at a low to mid 14 with 3.25 gears. 440's would have done a high 13. Not generally known, but a '67 390 held the B/SA record at 12.79 so when prepared they were OK. At a '66 NHRA biggy, a 390 Comet held the low et for qualifying at 12.90's. That car beat an awful lot of 442's, Chevelles, and MOPARS at that meet. Don't forget, the 440 was rated at 375 HP and the '67 390 Stang at 320 HP. I feel safe in saying that they would have run in diffenent stock classes.
That Mustang had lots of suspension mods to take the beating on those hill jumps. Don't remember much about engine mods. Not many if any. The Dodge had a very tough front end. I had a '69 that I put through h*ll with no trouble!
The 390GT Engine is tied for one of the most underated engines ever built by FoMoCo
April 24 2010, 6:54 PM
The 390GT Mustangs sick reputation was largely the Magazines and FoMoCos fault for giving them optioned out pigs. In 66/67 in every major car magazine tested 390GT Mustangs that were all loaded to the gills optioned to the hilt pork-barrels w/ C6s worse yet they were equiped with the lesser of the two rear ends 3.00:1 open vs 3.25:1 Equalock. Even Hot Rod with Paula Murphy's 66 Mustang Funny Car on the cover stated accross the top WE TEST THE 67 390 4SPD MUSTANG...yet inside was another loaded C-6'd tub being tested. The C6 /open rear was like launching on goose-grease. The 390GT came with Holley, Camshaft/Lifters/Retainers/ Springs that were later pirated for the CJ/SCJ and the 390GTs 4spds were unique in getting something all beefy 427/428/429s did not and that was a wide ratio 4spd. In stock trim on the whimpy tires the 390 were very easy to feather out of the hole vs the close ratios that were like starting in second for a smoke show.
The Bullet Mustang was supposed to be a mill'ed head 390GT which I can't believe ANYONE would waste time doing for what 10HP?...Anyone that knows the movie will note the serious reverse to forward burnout indicated the Bullitt car had a 3:00 open rear. I don't care who says what there is no essentially stock 440 Charger that could get near an equally essentially stock 390GT Mustang if it had a locking rear. I know the Bullitt car had a 4spd but kind of think the Charger had an Auto. Very simply the shear weight difference in a Mustang vs Charger is like loading three buddies in the car. In the days of Poly-Glass tires it was simply trying to get em to hook and every pound made it worse
Re: The 390GT Engine is tied for one of the most underated engines ever built by FoMoCo
April 24 2010, 7:22 PM
well lets face it a Charger with a 440 is going to pull out front on the top end but I'm sure the Mustang 390GT with a 4 speed did not need but only basic mods ( headers, PI intake, gear, and 750 carb) to run it down on the hills and turns. If the Charger had a 383 it would have had to slow down to keep from rear ending it. I ran a 70 Chager 383 and a 69 Super Bee 383 4 speed with my stock 390 GT 4 Cyclone speed back in the mid 70s. No problems at all.
Re: The 390GT Engine is tied for one of the most underated engines ever built by FoMoCo
April 25 2010, 11:19 AM
Had similar results as Bob H. as my Dad had a 66 Cyclone GT 4 spd. w 3.25 open rear end. Never lost a street race to a 440/383 Mopar, beat several 360 HP Chevelles , 350 hp 442's,and 360 hp GTO's (The GTO was the most over-rated car of the '60's), the only loses were to a 396/375 hp Chevelle and 2 Pontiacs (A Goat and a 428 big ponch.) both had non stock engines and slicks. The Mustangs (390) weren't as quick as the Fairlane/Comet for street racing. The rear suspension was too soft, the lower weight(than Fairlane/Comet) was all off the rear end, the early Ford posi was a joke and the staggered rear shocks/traction-loc came out about the same time as the 428. There was 1 local '68 390 Mustang that ran a bigger hydraulic cam and 3.89 gears that ran 14.0's. However in my mind the Charger would easily out handle a stock Mustang and from a roll all that extra torque the 440's have would win.
Here's actual 1969 article on making Bullitt (less chance of BS rising)
April 24 2010, 8:18 PM
Unfortunately looks like they left out the picture of the Can Am chassis'd TV chase car w/ BB Rat and Ram Tubes..
Yanking off heads off a 390 Mustang to mill em, has to be the worlds biggest waste of time and effort and because of that I don't believe it as the other articles saying they put in a cam..yeah with 390GT Manifolds that ought to have worked great LOL
Bill Hickman, the guy in the horn rims driving the Charger
April 24 2010, 9:22 PM
said the Charger could run off and hide from the Mustang. They kept putting skinnier tires on it to slow it down in the corners so the Mustang could keep up. Bill Hickman was one of the best stunt drivers and coordinators in the business, I think his word can be trusted. The Charger was stock, the Mustang was modified and it still couldn't keep up. That was the uncolored truth. Ford provided a lot of vehicles for the movie, so there wasn't a lot of bad-mouthing. But the Mustang had a lot of work done to even stay in frame. I don't really think they put headers on it, it sounds like GT manifolds and some shitty glass packs with 2" exhaust to me. It couldn't have been much of a cam if they did change it, it sounded like a pickup truck. It sounds really bottled up between the S intake and the exhaust. It sounds strangled really. The 440 on the other hand was breathing deep and wide, with the upswept manifolds and Hemi Turbos with 2.5" pipes and a good intake manifold with the much bigger Holley. The cam in a 440 of that era is a lot bigger too and with the bigger lifters it would still be street able and smooth.
Of course Hickman's driving was pretty good too. They had to dose the hit man with valium to get him to ride in the chase scenes.
Sorry Bill but no full size such as a Charger esp with passenger can match
April 25 2010, 6:21 AM
a pony car such as a Mustang. The weight differential is easly over 500 lbs. (Mustang 1 person Charger 2 Persons) Braking, Accelerating all take big hits. Anyone that ever loaded a couple buddies in a car and ran it will tell you it's slow motion just like a suddenly sick motor.
But we know the Mustang was a Peg Leg (laughable to imagine any moron souping up a peg leg) If the Charger was a Posi all bets are off. Could the crew have been that fucking stupid to yank the Mustangs heads, work the carb and ignition while still peddling on one wheel?
I have seen it many times with the Charger, GTX, Roadrunner, and Superbee. Street racing back in the day, Mustangs were meat on the hoof unless they had been modified, had a 428CJ, or a 427 transplant. I don't recall a stock 390GT Mustang beating anyone in the mid-70's. Now there were things you could do, the most important was to put headers on it, and put a better intake on it. The S intake was a turd, as were those GT manifolds, I think they were probably worse than the logs. Most were peglegs. Ford really dropped the ball on that one, it should have been a lot faster, and Henry II was really pissed at his engineers that it wasn't. The mindset back then was to make it a sporty poser, but keep the power down for liability reasons. Iacocca didn't believe that kids needed that kind of power, and "his" ponycar was good enough just on its style. Big mistake. Its a good reason why he lost his job and Bunkie Knudson came over. Modified correctly they didn't do too bad, but you had to build it to hold together, enlarge the main oil passage to 427 size, and back then you really needed a solid cam, they didn't have hydraulics aggressive enough back then. The valve springs sucked. The heads flowed good though if you put a good manifold to them. Either style late or early were in the pack with other muscle cars, they just had those damn shock towers that the engineers compromised the exhaust design on.
Mopar has their own under achiever. A 383 Dart is slower than a 340 one because of the exhaust they had to do to make it fit. People that shoehorned a 440 in one were even more disappointed, the headers even were awful and it was stuck in the 14.00's. A 440 Magnum Charger would walk all over them too, despite the weight.
We cant re-write history no matter how much we wish it so. The 390GT was a fun car, but it was out muscled by the other makes. The CJ came to the rescue, and backyard guys figured out you could build a 390 with CJ and 427 parts and it was stout. But off the showroom floor, it was a debacle. I saw it play out every weekend in the mid '70's. A stock 390GT just didn't have the goods. But a few modifications, that were not done on the Bullitt Mustang, could make them a contender.
I believe we had more of the serious sort of vehicle, percentage-wise, than anywhere in the country, With that said, running his '67 Mustang in stock class---but with a 4.44 DL rear and a few other basic mods, Brother Lon held the class record at Milan for most of the maiden season.
After flipping it in the rain, the car was put back together without any deadener or other weighty additions. We then street-raced it without being beat, for several months. A rat-motored Chevelle finally won---twice---and pissed Lon off so bad that he went and bought a 427 short block. We also arranged to get, 'through channels', a set of take-off TP heads and intake that came out of the LeMans program. I tried to arrange a re-match with the Chevelle but he refused. In that configuration, I beat Wangers national record holder poncho at Milan. But the biggest deal that summer was the run against the '56 Chev with a flip front end, gutted, and running a Thomas 444 rat kit. We had to beat him twice, out on 696, before he'd give up the money. The entire story has been told, in print, before.
I respect your words also, but Lon's car is a different animal
April 25 2010, 9:18 PM
4.44 DLs were not common showroom pieces. And, I am talking only about what the average Joe went into the showroom and bought. In modified form, you only had to look at the truly awesome catalog of racing parts available over the counter at Ford. I don't really think there was much better factory racing support. The Hemis got a lot of ink, and they did put them in production cars in quantity, Ford's approach was totally different. I wish the Cammer had gotten out there and more 427 HRs no 427 ever was built by the factory for retail releasein a Mustang. The Boss9, even the 385 series in general never got a chance to show its King Kong ability. The time had passed it by.
The FE legend is in that program. I also agree with TomP. The FE would have died off if the trickle down of the 5.0 interest had not come when it did. FE parts were getting expensive even in the early-mid '80's.
A stripped down 69 Mustang stock car like Dick Trickle ran with the 351 Cleveland was a go getter. They let that engine die on the vine too. A 351C 4V quench motor with a solid cam was force to be reckoned with.
I love my FEs and all Fords. I just like to try to keep my facts in context. A tri-power GTO with a 421 in place of the 389 was a big dishonest "ringer" Wangers pulled off, but the press bought it and so did people. The 389 was just enough to fool people, and more than some could handle. The rest is history.
I have high regard for your opinions, but don't depend too heavily on the movie sounds. The sound track is actually of a 427 GT40, matched to the actions of the Mustang. What we hear is coming from the 180 degree 'bundle of snakes'.
heard the story before, but was reminded by the stuff in one of the posts above. And I can remember going to Mosport, back in the late '60s and having an argument with my 'vette-driving friend regarding what engine the GT40s were running. We had to get through the paddock to where the Ford contingent was parked, and then close enough that I could point out the features that proved the engine to be an FE. His claim was that they didn't sound very big. ???
I love fords We built and raced a 1968 Mustang that my buddy got fron Bruce Sizemore with a Tunnel Port with Cj Batten top end We raced a Maverick ex Rogers speed shop with that same tunnel port and later a hi port 351 C in local raceway Park Pro Stock but UNTIL THE 428 COBRA JET AND NOT COUNTING AC'S OR MY LATER PURCHASED GRIFFITH 400 THE FORD STREET CARS WERE DOGS IT ALL CHANGED WHEN THE bOPPERS CJ WAS PRODUCED AND FOMOCO STARTED BEING RESPONSIVE BUT WITH THE EXCEPTION OF DIE HARDS NO ONE RACED THESE FORDS EASILY OR SUCCESSFULLY IN NJ
I know this is blastphmy in the church of the blue oval but..... The stock 390 Fords would pump up the lifters so bad it took 5 minutes of idling before they stopped missing, 4 speeds with Bucrons hopped so bad the glove compartment would pop open. The only way to burn rubber with an automatic was to back up, rev it up in neutral and pull it in low, making J-hooks on the hyway. They were pitiful. these were the full sized Galaxies. Almost every young man bought a full size car with a bench seat, it had to double as tavern,bordello,hotel and transportation. If you owned a 390 Galaxie you were a spectator at the 2 lane blacktop competition. The 406/427 were a little better, no traction, no heavy duty posi. As soon as slicks were mounted, T-10s would shuck the teeth off second gear. It took alot of work and money to get them to run with the 409's and 421's. and nobody was even close to a 63 426 mopar right off the showroom floor. That's the unvarnished truth to it,I was there.
Ford was ahead of GM and Chrysler at the time in terms of quality and minimizing warranty claims. Building under-stressed motors was part of the plan. It wasn't until Tasca got fed up with it and built his own Ford performance car that Ford was forced to play ball. Looking back, it wasn't a bold move because the CJ had 40 more inches and the heads and intake were still pretty tame. Pontiac specifically, had come from near oblivion and had nothing to loose. Selling performance parts was a marketing strategy that they needed, and financially, Ford did not. Unfortunately, Ford was either out of touch with the street scene, or didn't care. Racing was racing and showrooms with salesmen sold cars.
My '66 390 Comet was a pig in stock form. Nothing about a 5/16 fuel line, junk intake, a 3.25 open diff. and log manifolds screams performance. With that, I will say that a magazine of the day tested it as slightly quicker than a GTO, both were prepped by pros and had bolt ons. The point is, Ford could have built the nastiest street cars with the goodies included, they chose not to.
I never heard such a collection of weenies putting down FoMoCo's here's Fact:
April 25 2010, 5:02 PM
I been there done that being very fortunate to have actually owned a S-Code, 4spd/3.25:1 Non GT/no options except factory Tach/AM radio/fastback 67 Mustang in high school @ 16. I bought it at 15 and used my Mom's LTD wagon for my road test..
Nobody had much disposable money @ $1.85/hour or the know how for headers, cams, intake manifolds etc.. A pair of Thrush w/ no tailpipes, Zoom Clutch setup w/ reinforced linkage, shackles, air shocks, couple sizes larger rear tires H70s - M/T, Scat Tracs, Poly GTs were evidence that I went through rear tires, ET Traction Bars was about it. Cars that fell:
396 and 427 Impalla SS - 4spd my friend swapped motors .
390 70-4spd AMX a friend bought her from a local specialty muscle car dealer, With my having fastest car in HS his getting it was supposed to be a challenge - in third gear he looked like he was in reverse in my mirror,
340 6Pack T/A Cuda late night dual.
428CJ Torino Cobra formal roof /C6, 3.50TL high school best friend.
70 Stage1 Buick GS 4spd Conv. = Sister's boyfriend - his father was Buick dealer, his Graduation/goodbye present, Drag races with him were no contest. On a large sweeping 90 degree turn at end of straight he put it in a ditch after doing a few 360s in my mirror trying to keep up with me me - going home one night. I took him for a ride one night and he told me the clutch was slipping until we went back and he saw the rubber..
White with sold scoops and silver w black Hurst Olds-Street duals,
Boss 302's - nuff said.
W31 4spd 442: $100 run and reason I parked/stored the Mustang,
SS396-350HP Cow Induction (Cow just to piss em off) 4spd Chevelle crooked cop - friend
340 4spd Duster, friend a full time mechanic at Go Cart/Mini Bike Shop,
383 and 440 Road Runners/Cudas/GTXs my friends dad owned Chrysler Plymouth dealership. A highlight was one night I got seriously sideways powershifting 3rd with him riding shotgun: He grabbed the dash pad and screamed "I WILL NEVER SAY FORDS ARE SLOW AGAIN"
Raggy looking torn rear window GT500KR Convert - street dual.
327 FI Vette - midnight run.
64 389 tri-power convert GTO - Cold Spring Harbor HS vs Huntington HS fastest cars. Not me driving, before I bought it -- the previous owner did the job.
LT1 Vette: Non-automotive friend riding with me urged me into it by stating: "No No you could NEVER beat a Vette" about the dumbest thing I ever did, resembled Bullitt on Sunrise Hwy. Vettes owner asked "what the hell do you have in that thing?" at red light as we got back into populated area.
all above fell to the 390 Mustang and I will swear to this - my older friend ordered from the Planview Ford dealer: R Code 4spd CJ Mach1, stock except for G60s and Thrush. The 1st time I ever raced him my friends dad and him were behind me at a street light on a main drag w/ my friend driving his dads New Yorker. About the time my friends dad noted and asked him if it was my Mustang?.... the light changed and both cars burst into smoke, My friend wanting to get a good view stepped on it and his old mans yelling at him "Stay Back Stay Back They're Going To Crash!" With the CJ Mach he was my very frequent late night sparing partner on a 1/2 mile two lane concrete road boardered by potato/wheat fields, we might run 4-5 times a night frequently had to abort runs due to traffic. Ee'd park em between runs on a side road bullshitting while we let em cool (was that bull they never got overheated). We both trusted each other and had it down for when trafic came from the other direction when we were pulling serious top end speeds in 3-4th gears. From a roll or stop it was always antagonizingly close through all gears, but I learned if I shifted at 5400 I would get him every time from stop or roll, if I shifted at 5600 he would get me (he claim'd one time he shifted at 6,000 but I knew he had the factory limiter).
Typically I'd launch at 1,5-2,000 depending on asphault or concrete, feather gas on edge of secondaries ,short shift first into second 4500 that would allow it to basrely burn the tires and instantly WOT rest of run w/ power shifts.
The only ass kicking I ever got was from a 69/70 GTO with a Triangular Chromed Lid air cleaner that car ate my ass alive.
Anyone that rev'd a FE hard enough to "pump up lifters that required 5 minutes of idling" certainly had no comprehension that a FE was a torque motor. Obviously the 390 GTs small valves, ex manifolds and small factory Holley would not be gasping
I was able to buy 390 4 speed cars pretty cheap in the mid-70s. Like 300 dollars cheap for a nice running but rusty example. I street raced a lot back then. And as much as it hurts to say it - I had my ass handed to me pretty often by BB Chev and Mopar cars. The cure came when I discovered nitrous.....a LOT of nitrous!
Back in the day hardly anybody kept there car stock.At least not that long.We would take'em re-work the distributors,Install adj.rockers,junk that puny carb and put a set of gears in.Nothing elaborate.The cars ran very good.I agree,it must,ve been about the warranties.To this day it still puts a huge smile on my kids face[and mine]banging those gears with my 390 mustang.Its not a race car just a street car that'll hold its own.
That is my point, you had to do what Ford failed to do
April 25 2010, 6:48 PM
You had to get the air in and out, and the stock appendages were not up to the task. I have a mildly built 390 too, and its a romper stomper.
Its just 9.5:1 flat top, early heads with a good valve job, a 270S cam running the lash tight, a Holley SD intake ported by Mario428 here on the forum, an Edelbrock 800 carb and headers. It runs like an SOB.
But that's different than what you got from the showroom, I am not debating it, I have seen it. A stock 390GT 4-speed Mustang with a good tune, getting its ass handed to it by a stock 327 Nova SS 4-speed of the same year and way cheaper. Both bone stock, and in top tune. Its a fact. They even switched cars and the result was the same, the Nova by a full car length. Now the same GT with CJ heads, manifolds and a CJ intake, the Nova, just just some cheap headers, it was already a 365hp engine. The 'Stang could take him by a fender and door. Both had hydraulic cams and the same 3.25 gears. Now could Ford have done that? They should have. The 428 CJ was cool, but think of what a 67 Mustang with a 390 CJ would have been? I have done the same thing but swapped cams in a few with the 427-410 hp solid cam, off the shelf and put some headers on it. Stick it in a ratty Fairlane, and it was stout. Just 390 flat top, 427 solid cam CJ heads and intake, and headers. That car could wind on up to about 6000. Mine with oiling improvements will go past 7000. You guys are preaching to the choir on what a 390 CAN do, but Ford didn't do it with the 390.
NHRA stock, what can I say? Factored competition doesn't have a complete relative relation to what you came home from 'Nam and spent your bonus on. It didn't take many handed asses to see where the buyers went. Some chose to modify the cars (which voided their warranty, and took them out of the liability picture, wasn't that convenient for Ford?), but if you didn't, you traded it in on a car that had the performance you thought you paid your money for with a warranty to boot. Its too bad Iacocca ran their name into the mud with his focus on style over function. Some of these guys were grunts, or chopper pilots who came home and wanted the baddest ass car you could get. They didn't really care as much about style. But some could make them run, but its what they should have gotten in the first place.
While my '67 390gt was an auto, I can only remember losing a couple of street races. My mustang was modified slightly (who didn't) you really wouldn't be a regular here if your cars were left stock. I bought a set of hooker headers and a new aluminum manifold called a "streetmaster" when I freshened it up. It had a dual point distributor a 735 holley and B&M shift kit with some 4.11 gears.
I had a traction problem in 1st gear but if I drove it correctly it almost could't be beat. (lost to a blown '55 BBC and a 440 challanger)
as I was reading through the latest comments in this thread. About the first seven or eight new (performance) Fords I bought stayed bone stock for at least forty or fifty minutes after I took delivery. And the same thing was true for most of the people I ran around with. Any perception by a street-racing opponent that he had a superior car just made it easier to beat him. I was aware of the hydraulic lifter problem with the 390-300 because Brother Lon had to contend with the problem in his '63 Galaxie vert with column 3-speed. But it was mid-seventies before I got the first Ford product that didn't have solid lifters. I had great street fun with my '64 'R' Custom because I put 390 'bird emblems on in place of the 427 gold 'birds. And there were enough fast Fords on the street here in Metro Detroit that there may have been more respect locally than in other parts of the country.
I replaced the 390 in my '67 XR7GT with a 427 built from scratch. Although there were a number of Hemi-powered this-'n'-thats to be found on the street hereabouts, I never found one that was a match for my Cougar. Actually, the only real key to be seen when opening the hood was that the carb was a little to one side instead of square in the middle. And, of course, you could hear the solids.
A stock off the lot GT needed work. Some people just traded them in for something else, others like yourself took the issue in hand and put what Ford should have put in them. I think their deception was purposeful for warranty and liability reasons. A lot of people did some modification through the parts counter, and even had some of the work done at the Ford garage. The engine responded well to these modifications, where other makes didn't. If I remember right a lot of the cars in its class had 230° @ .050 cams in them, adequate manifolds. So modifying the GT just a little went a lot longer way. Maybe some of the GTs people remember as being so fast had been modified by the first owner out of the Ford parts book and in a dealership? Also I would imagine a set of C6AE-Rs performed a little different than C7AE smog heads, maybe a little different there? Smog state vs non-smog state exhaust system? There could be differences there. But strictly speaking, the 390GT Mustang was an underachiever as they were sold new.
A prepped NHRA Stocker would have had things in it that didn't come commonly on the showroom cars too, and their weight factor would have made a class of their own type, a formula that fit it. RJ's record with his 390 is a case in point. Stock is kind of a loose term these days, valid in its frame, but not what exactly was being sold and warrantied that year in the showroom, none of the makes are. Stock class 428CJ cars are running high 10's.
Big and heavy though they were that motor was a beast. Sure I could jump them off the line but would watch them blow by me every time.
Every 390GT Mustang I have been in that was fairly stock was VERY unimpressive. I had a 67 Mustang in which I installed a stock 351W-4V with duals and headers and 3.25 gears and I had no problem beating the stock 390 cars either out of the hole or on the top end.