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Arguably the star of both the 1974 and 2000 “Gone In 60 Seconds” films, the Eleanor Mustang is an urban legend of the car world – but where did it all begin? 

The original “Gone In 60 Seconds” film of 1974 was written, directed and produced by independent filmmaker, H.B. “Toby” Halicki. To say that the film was the ultimate passion project for Halicki would be the understatement of the century, as he even starred in it as well. 

The film revolves around a group of car thieves, and the forty eight cars they must steal in a five day window. It is known for having wrecked and destroyed ninety three cars in a forty minute car chase scene – one of the longest in film history. A total of one hundred and twenty seven vehicles were either destroyed or damaged throughout the entirety of the film.

However, of the many cars featured in the film, there’s all but one that stands out not only as a front runner, but arguably the star of the show – the Eleanor Mustang. 

The Legend Of The Eleanor Mustang 

While America – and in fact, the world – was already in the throes of a passionate love affair with muscle cars, so too was Halicki. While there was no official script for the movie, apart from several pages outlining main dialog sequences, Halicki had an automotive vision, and was determined to stick with it. 

Technically speaking, the Eleanor Mustang was originally a 1971 Mustang Sportsroof model. Although four Mustangs were portrayed in the film as “Eleanor” targets, only two cars were purchased, and used for filming the movie, with license plates and tires alternated as necessary. Of these two, Eleanor Mustang was modified for the stunt driving necessitated by the final chase – and wrecked in the process – while the other was kept intact for all external “beauty shots.” The latter car was also used for all but two interior shots.

As Halicki didn’t quite have the funds yet to start filming, each car was facelifted with 1973 grilles to match the era of the shoots. Both cars retain their 1971 front bumper and valance panels, as retrofitting the 1973 parts to the car would have also required swapping the fenders. Despite persistent rumours that both cars were painted in Ford’s “Medium Yellow Gold” hue, Halicki went on to state in a 1974 interview  that the cars were painted “generic school bus yellow” in order to save money on production costs. 

Needless to say, the two Eleanor Mustang models purchased for filming both received wildly different treatments. The “Stunt” Eleanor Mustang received over 250 hours of labour before it was deemed to be “film ready”. All body panels were removed to install a roll cage, and the vehicle’s transmission was also chained in for safety purposes. An adjustable camera rig was mounted in the back seat to capture footage from the internal “driver’s point of view.”

As the “Stunt” Eleanor Mustang received tweaks purely for the purpose of stunt logistics, other safety modifications included:

  • Heavy duty Simpson shoulder harness
  • Deadbolt door locks
  • Aftermarket hood pins
  • 24 volt electrical system
  • On board first aid kit
  • Electrical kill switches
  • Individual locking rear brakes
  • Fish plating of the undercarriage – 3” x 3/8” steel

In comparison, the second “Beauty” Eleanor Mustang was left in its original form, bar the matching paint job, grille change and seat swap. While this car was never damaged during the filming process, audiences are generally surprised to hear that the “Stunt” Eleanor Mustang also lives on today, even despite its involvement in two serious accidents on set. 

Over twenty five years later, the Eleanor Mustang once again features in a “Gone In 60 Seconds” film, although this time it was with Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie as opposed to H.B. Halicki. Once again, the “Eleanor” name is given to the film’s featured car – now a Dupont Pepper Grey 1967 Ford Mustang fastback, but depicted as a Shelby GT500. This time, the Eleanor Mustang featured a customised body kit designed by Steve Stanford.

For the film, twelve Eleanor Mustangs were built by Cinema Vehicle Services – nine were shells, and three were built as fully functional vehicles. Seven models are thought to have survived the filming process, with three originals offered to the public. Although their whereabouts are currently unknown, their VIN’s have indicated the following last known sales. 

#1 – Sold at Barrett-Jackson’s 2009 Scottsdale, AZ auction for $216,700 USD. 

#2 – Sold at COYS Autosport International January 2012 auction (Birmingham, UK) for £95,000. Later offered at Mecum’s Austin, Texas auction on December 12, 2014. It did not meet the reserve price of $380,000 USD. 

#3 – Sold at Mecum’s Indianapolis auction on May 18, 2013 for $1,000,000 USD. Touted as the “main” hero car in the film and used for promotional photographs. 

A fourth car – VIN #7F02C229830 – was last offered for sale in Dubai. Although it claims originality to the film, this car has not been authenticated.

Whether our love of the Eleanor Mustang stems from the first film, the second film or even the simple fact that it’s one of the most revered muscle cars still on the market today, seeing one on the big screen is almost as good as driving one. 

Connecting Classic Car Lovers

Finding a fellow vintage auto enthusiast can feel a bit like finding a needle in a haystack, but rest assured that Classic’s Garage understands the thrill more than most. Having spent forty years collecting anything and everything from matchbox cars to hub caps, he’s successfully followed his passion to source, collect and stock beautiful and low mileage classic automobiles from around the world. 

With our showroom conveniently located at Seventeen Mile Rocks, if you would like to arrange a viewing or inspect any of our classic vehicles for sale, please get in touch with us today.