Cars and movies have long gone together. Some of the most breathtaking scenes in cinema history have featured iconic cars, like the immortal 1961 Ferrari in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the DeLorean DMC-12 in Back To The Future, and for many film buffs, the excitement of getting behind the wheel of a piece of movie history is unparalleled. But cars that appear in famous films often become wildly popular, and as anyone who has ever seen the sales price for a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T (the vehicle made famous by Vanishing Point) knows, remaining models command enormous prices.

For this reason, some automakers have opted to re-release famous cars of the past, building new versions that are identical to their on-screen counterparts — DeLorean, for example, famously re-released it’s DMC-12 last year. But while there is a market for these cars, it tends to be extremely high-end, and though some improvements have been made to the vehicles they are designed to appeal to purists who want a car straight out of the movies. This is why so many car and film aficionados are excited about the 2019 Mustang Bullitt, a car that blends nostalgia and movie history with the best 21st century engineering and features.

While there are many famous movie Mustangs, probably the most remarkable is the Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT driven by Steve McQueen in his 1968 film Bullitt. Bullitt tells a classic Hollywood story: McQueen plays a San Francisco police officer trying to unravel a complicated plot involving an organized crime syndicate, and the film’s high point comes when McQueen’s character enters into a high-octane chase through San Francisco with a group of hit men in a 1968 Dodge Charger. Often cited as one of the most famous car chase scenes in movie history, it is also one of the highest profile celebrations of the first generation of American pony cars.

But while much of its appeal comes from features associated with the 1968 GT driven in the film, such as its colour and the cue ball shift knob on the manual transmission, the new Ford Mustang is not just a relic of the past. Its 5.0-litre V-8 engine is more powerful than the 2018 Mustang GT, and can deliver 475 horsepower as well as 420 lb-ft of torque, topping out at a remarkable 262 km/h. And with a 12-inch digital LCD instrument cluster and black leather seats, the 2019 Bullitt offers drivers a perfect balance between retro style and modern comfort and performance.

The new Mustang won’t be available until January 2019, but initial reports suggest that it has been designed for broad appeal. Fans of the current generation of Mustangs will find much to love, while lovers of the film will no doubt be pleasantly surprised by the pure blend of old and new. For automakers wishing to capitalize on nostalgia for the great cinematic cars of the past, Ford offers a savvy approach that charts a middle way between slavish imitation and indifference to history.