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6 Used Fords Under $10k Faster Than Steve McQueen’s ’68 Bullitt Mustang

Updated May 19, 2018

The Mustang Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt established the car as one of the coolest ever. While not as cool, here are 7 Fords that are faster and cheaper.

Before we begin, a note about 0-60 times. When researching the performance of a 1968 Mustang GT with a 390 V8, the lowest 0-60 time located was in a magazine report, claiming 6.3 seconds, which is highly unlikely. Why? In contemporary tests the ’68 Shelby GT500 with its larger, more powerful motor and rear suspension specifically modified to improve the launch performance of the Mustang chassis reached 60 in 6.5 seconds. Very unlikely the GT would beat a GT500 in a straight drag race.

Back in the 1960s, both car manufacturers and car magazines were playing games. The car makers would deliver cars to the magazines that were specially ordered deleting unneeded heavy item like a/c, radios, and soundproofing, installing lighter batteries and other parts, and then tuning the engines by using thinner head gaskets and long reach spark plugs to increase the compression ratio, as well as rejetting the carb(s) and fiddle with the ignition advance for optimum strip performance.

At the same time magazines created tables that were ostensibly to allow measurements taken at different locations and at different dates to be compared. The tables provided adjustments for altitude, barometric pressure, temperature, as well as any grade in the surface, and more. One magazine was well know to have a policy of always printing the lowest 0-60 times, so chances are its tables “overcompensated” to one degree or another.

So, based on extensive research conducted by automotive historians  we believe we have found  accurate acceleration performance of a the type of 1968 Ford Mustang GT used in the production of Bullitt: 0-60 in 7.8 seconds and a quarter mile in 15.20 at 94 mph. Very impressive for 1968, but let’s see what budget Fords can top it (and there’s not a single Mustang on the list).

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2008 Ford Taurus Limited

Hard to believe that grandpa’s car can out-drag Ol’ Steve’s Highland Green Mustang, but the 2008 Taurus can hit 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds,  and run a 15.5 sec quarter. Of course, with its front-wheel drive its would be understeering worst than the black Dodge Charger, but on the other hand a ’08 Taurus is good condition can be purchased for around $9,000.

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1999 Ford Contour SVT

Ford brought over the very successful Ford Mondeo mid-sized sedan from Europe, adapted it for American tastes, reamed it the Contour, put them out on the showroom, and … no one bought them. The primary reason was the Ford Contour was a significantly smaller car than the Taurus, but only a few thousand dollars cheaper. So buyers spent the extra buck to purchase the more familiar, and larger, Taurus. Even the hotted-up SVT version couldn’t ignite sales, despite its impressive 6.7 second 0-60 and 15.0 second quarter mile times. If you can find one, you should be able to pick up a decent SVT Contour for around $3,000.

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2001 Ford F-150 Lightning

Need a little more hauling room than a Taurus? Then how about a 2001 Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck? Its 5.4 L supercharged V8 pushes out 380 hp, enough to push the truck from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds. A clean example purchased at a dealer with reasonable mileage for its age should be priced right at our $10,000 cut-off (private party sale should be less).

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1999 Ford Escort ZX2 S/R

A great car to have if you can find one. The S/R was a special edition of which only 1100 were built, primary for use by racers competing against more powerful, better handling import cars. Upgrades included a Ford Motorsports ECU, Roush cold air intake, Eibach suspension, and a Centerforce clutch. The upgrades put the ZX2 much closer to its import competitors in terms of performance, with  0-60 mph times of 7.7 seconds and a quarter mile 15.9. While there aren’t enough changing hands to appear on the radar of the used car pricing sites, if you take the current value of a ’99 ZX2 and add the $1500 upgrade cost of the S/R package, it would put you at about $5,000. Who know, keep a lookout as someone selling an S/R may not know it was a special car.

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2002 Ford Focus SVT

To bring a little credibility to the new Focus range, Ford’s Special Vehicles Team (SVT) tuned the Focus compact from stem to stern. Engine output was increased by 40 hp, the transmission replaced by a close-ratio 5 speed German Getrag gearbox, and stiffer springs, shocks, and anti-roll bars were fitted all-around. The net was a compact car that could reach 60 mph in 7.7 seconds and run the quarter mile in 15.9 seconds (which, in  all honesty, is a touch slower in the quarter than the ’68 Bullitt). However, you should be able to fit one of these point-and-squirt cars for around $4000.

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2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

The Ford Fusion is an unassuming mid-sized sedan that you would never imagine could take on McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang. After all, the Mustang came with the mighty 390 (6.4 L) V8 producing 335 hp (SAE Gross) against a V6 producing 221 hp (SAE Net). The true difference between the two is problem less than 50 hp. The rear advantage the Fusion has over the Mustang is its six-speed automatic, with an extra low first gear to provide quick launches. The result is a 0-60 of 7.3 seconds and a 15.5 second quarter. You should e able to find one at a dealer for about $6,000.

As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there first.

 

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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