Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
December 15, 2013
Photos By: David Newhardt, Al Rogers

Go Baby Go!

Prior to the auction, Mecum knew something special could happen with the '67 "Eleanor" fastback, Ford VIN 7R02C179710, originally built by Cinema Vehicle Services as the "hero" car for the 2000 movie Gone in 60 Seconds. Unlike the many replicas out there, this one is the real deal; it's the car actually driven by actor Nicholas Cage for close-up shots and used for posters and other promotional materials. A number of Eleanors were built and abused for the chase scene stunts, but this "beauty car" survived unscathed, right down to the Steve Stanford-designed fiberglass body panels, Ford Racing 351 crate engine, and "Go Baby Go" shift knob button.

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As our readers know all too well, Gone in 60 Seconds and its Eleanor Mustang triggered a replica revolution with body panels offered by Cinema Vehicle Services and others. Unique Performance in Texas got in on the act by rebuilding '67 fastbacks into GT500E models with Carroll Shelby's blessing before getting nabbed for title washing.

Offered for sale by Ray Claridge, owner of CVS, which has maintained ownership of the car for the past 13 years, the hero Eleanor Mustang was featured in Mecum's pre-event publicity. "As we started the promotion for the Indy auction, it took on a life of its own," says Murtough. "Web info went viral and excitement was off the charts. We estimated that bids would reach between $400,000 and $600,000. But two people wanted it badly. The reserve came off at $600,000 and it sold for $1 million."

The buyer's identity has not been disclosed.

"Thirteen years later and Eleanor is still drawing a crowd everywhere it goes," said Claridge in a Mecum interview. "It's a timeless car. I think Eleanor has proved her worth."

The Super Snake Story

No question about it, Shelby Mustangs bring top dollar in today's collector marketplace. They're coveted due to their special appearance, low production, and performance heritage. But stir in a special 427 engine along with documentation, including a Goodyear promotional video, that it was driven by Carroll Shelby at a tire test, and you're looking at the cream of the collector crop.

According to the Shelby American Automobile Club, Carroll Shelby asked Shelby American chief engineer Fred Goodell to install a GT40 Mk II 427 engine, with aluminum heads and solid lifters, in a '67 G.T. 500 for a tire test on Goodyear's five-mile banked oval in San Angelo, Texas. With members of the press invited, including Time and Life magazines, Carroll made the trip as well, driving members of the media around the track at speeds up to 150 mph. During the actual testing of Goodyear's new Thunderbolt tires, the Shelby set a record by averaging 142 mph for a continuous 500 miles.

With its test duty completed, Goodell searched for a buyer, eventually reaching out to former Shelby American field sales representative Don McCain, who had moved to performance dealer Mel Burns Ford in California. McCain recognized the opportunity to offer a unique 427-powered G.T. 500 through the Mel Burns dealership, similar to high-performance Chevy offerings from Yenko and Mr. Norm on the east coast, and suggested a run of 50 cars. However, when it was determined that such a car, even with a detuned 427, would retail in 427 Cobra territory at $7,500, McCain's idea was shelved.