What Is an Eleanor Mustang?Last Updated August 8, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
The Eleanor name has been carried by two Mustangs. The first Eleanor, a 1973 fastback, was a movie Mustang in the 1974 film Gone in 60 Seconds. In the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds, the second Eleanor was introduced. This was a 1967 Shelby GT500.
Usually, when people discuss the Eleanor Mustang, they’re referring to the second Eleanor. Though the 1973 Mustang was attractive, it doesn’t hold the allure of the Shelby. The Gone in 60 Seconds remake’s budget allowed for more impressive cars.
The Original Eleanor Mustang
The first Gone in 60 Seconds came out in 1974. It has the distinction of being written, produced, and directed by the lead actor, H.B. Halicki. During filming, a total of 127 vehicles were destroyed. Thankfully, in addition to being a quadruple threat, Halicki also owned a junkyard. Many of these vehicles were junkyard finds, reducing the production costs significantly.
In the movie, Maindrian Pace (Halicki) is the owner of a chop shop. There, he’s approached by a drug lord who offers him $400,000 to steal a grand total of 48 vehicles. With a dedicated team of thieves, Pace sets out to steal the list of vehicles. The list is broad, with everything from rare vintage cars and exotics to semi trailers. Each vehicle gets a woman’s name to use as a code name.
The car that gives Pace the most trouble though, is a 1973 Medium Yellow Gold Ford Mustang, codenamed Eleanor. In the movie, Pace finds four separate Eleanors. The first is occupied, the second uninsured, and the third is damaged in a chase with the police. The movie ends with Pace driving the fourth Eleanor away.
The Real Eleanors
All four Eleanors were portrayed by two Mustangs. Though they’re described as “Medium Yellow Gold” the budget for the movie wasn’t very large, and Hadicki used cheaper “School Bus Yellow” paint.
The Mustangs actually weren’t even 1973 models. Hadicki used 1971 Mustangs and then added 1973 Mustang grilles. The blackout treatment given to the Mustangs’ sides were Mach 1 inspired, but the hood treatment was wholly original.
As in most movies with cars, there was a designated “hero” Eleanor used for most of the exterior shots, and an actual “stunt” Eleanor used for driving scenes.
To make the stunt Eleanor ready for production, it needed 250 hours of labor. During this time, many modifications were added.
Stunt Eleanor Modifications:
- Chained transmission for safety
- Camera mounted in backseat
- Roll cage
- Heavy-duty shoulder harness
- Deadbolt door locks
- Hood pins
- First-aid kit
- Electric kill switches
- Individual locking rear brakes
- Undercarriage plating
Despite some rather intense scenes during filming, the stunt Eleanor survives to this day. Unfortunately, the “hero” Eleanor, being an otherwise plain-jane 1971 Mustang, was crushed at some point after the movie.
The Shelby Eleanor
In 2000, a remake of the classic car chase and heist film was made. This time, the lead was a character named Memphis Raines, played by Nicholas Cage.
The plot is different as well. Raines is a known car thief, with a younger brother also in the trade. It’s the younger brother, Kip Raines, who makes a deal to steal 50 cars. Once again, they give each of their intended targets a woman’s name as a codename, and just like before, the Eleanor name is reserved for the car that is destined to give them the most trouble.
The Gone in 60 Seconds remake was backed by Disney-dollars, which meant they could afford to get more exotic cars. While the part of Eleanor would still be a Mustang, in order to make it as enticing a steal as the Ferraris and Lambos on the list, it would be a Shelby Mustang.
A Dupont Pepper Gray 1967 Shelby GT500 was produced. Or rather twelve were produced. Nine of these were shells, but three were fully functional vehicles.
None of the Mustangs used in filming were actually Shelbys (thankfully). Instead, they were 1967 fastbacks equipped with some parts to give them some Shelby-flair.
Parts Added to All Cars:
- Fender flares
- New fascia
- Headlight bezels
- Rocker panels
- Side exit exhausts
The rest of the equipment varied. While most cars were equipped with an automatic transmission, one was equipped with a Tremec 5-speed manual. All were given four disc brakes and 17” x 8” Cobra-style wheels. These and coilovers represented the bulk of the performance additions.
Since the movie, three Eleanors have emerged for auction. The first one was sold in 2009, for the respectable sum of $216,700. Another was offered in 2012 and 2014, but didn’t meet the reserve price of $380,000. These two were some of the more run-of-the-mill fake Eleanors.
The third Eleanor is also the most famous. If you’ve seen the promo photos for Gone in 60 Seconds, it was probably the car you were looking at.
Unlike the others, this Eleanor has a lot of performance equipment.
- Full restoration
- 351 CID V8 engine
- MSD ignition system
- Edelbrock Performer intake
- Side exit exhaust
- Magnaflow muffler
- Tremec TKO 5-speed manual transmission
- Hydraulic clutch
- 3.70 positraction differential
- NOS system
- Hurst Shifter (Complete with Go Baby Go button)
The first time this Eleanor (the true Eleanor) went up for sale was in 2013, when it sold for $1 million. When this Eleanor was slated for auction again in January 2020, it was expected to sell for at least as much. Instead, it brought in a totally respectable $852,000. While that’s less than it sold for the first time, at both auctions it sold for more than a Concours correct 1967 Shelby GT500 would have.
Where Can I Get an Eleanor Mustang?
The Eleanor name is licensed and the copyright owner, Halicki’s widow, will absolutely sue you. Every few years someone gets a vehicle taken away because they shared their “Eleanor” build.
In the early 2000’s, Carroll Shelby decided to produce Eleanor reproductions. After all, the 2000 movie used his GT500 as the inspiration, and it was clear there was a demand. He was promptly hit with a lawsuit by Halicki. After several years, Shelby lost. If Shelby couldn’t produce unauthorized reproductions of a car inspired by his own work, there’s not much chance for the rest of us. In fact, several Eleanor-inspired builds have been seized.
Courts have ruled that the magic is in the Eleanor name. So, don’t name your car Eleanor. Especially if it’s a Mustang. Especially if it looks Shelby-inspired.
Occasionally, Halicki does authorize shops to sell licensed Eleanors. So you could wait for that. Generally, the price for these authorized editions is between $189,000 and $300,000. Both are pretty good prices for a brand new Eleanor.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from building your own Mustang with your favorite parts from the movie vehicle. Le Mans stripes, Recaro seats, and 5-speed Tremecs are great additions.
Image Credit: Creative Commons 2.0