Cult Mustang ‘Eleanor’ for auction
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Very few cars have ever become film stars in their own right. The Aston Martin DB5 is forever associated with Sean Connery, the original James Bond, while Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a song, not a De Dietrich, and even the jade green GT350 in Bullit is better known for what Steve McQueen did with it on the streets of San Francisco than as a movie personality in its own right.
But Eleanor - now that's a different story.
Eleanor is the undoubted star of the 2000 cult movie Gone in 60 Seconds, a supremely elegant, sinfully sexy customised 1967 Ford Mustang GT500 - so much so that many people forget the female lead was Angelina Jolie!
Eleanor was designed by master customiser Chip Foose and created by Ray Claridge's Cinema Vehicle Services for the role.
Since original Shelbys are way too scarce and valuable to cut up for movie cars, Eleanor was based on a standard 1967 Mustang fastback, with special body parts mocked up on the body in the old-fashioned way using wood and clay, then moulded in fibreglass.
These included a complete front end with a special grille insert and a recess housing two enormous PIAA driving lights where the front number plate should have been, special side skirts (and yes, Cyril, the side pipes at the bases of the B pillars are for real), add-on wheel-arch flares and rear three-quarter cooling scoops (also for real) and special bonnet and boot lids.
Under that humungous power bulge there's a 298kW, 5.7-litre, 351 Ford V8 crate engine, cradled in a Total Control front subframe body brace.
The interior is relatively standard, apart from an Autometer Sport Comp Monster rev counter, a fire extinguisher, a specially made Go-Baby-Go gear lever knob for line lock and a switch for a nitrous injection system.
No fewer than 11 cars were built for the film, but only three were runners. Two looked smart but were rough inside, for use by stunt drivers in moving shots, and were in fact written off during shooting.
The third, chassis number 7R02C179710, was the only one finished throughout to show standards, and was used for shots where Nicholas Cage, playing retired car thief Memphis Raines, was seen driving, for close-ups and for promotional photo-shoots after filming was completed - which is probably why it is still in original, undamaged condition.
Eleanor still belongs to Ray Claridge, who has finally decided to put her up for auction at Dana Mecum's 26th Original Spring Classic auction from 14-19 May in Indianpolis. As always this car, to be sold as lot S135 on 18 May, has attracted star billing and is expected to fetch in excess of $100 000 (about a million rand).
Included with the car, the buyer will get a certificate of authenticity from Cinema Vehicle Services, and a display plaque bearing the car's chassis number.