It’s 50 years since the classic Eleanor Mustang shape, the 1967 Fastback, was making huge waves in America.
Brian Joss – Little did anyone realise then that 50 years on, the 1967 GT shape Mustang would be revered world-wide as a car called “Eleanor” after the mean muscle ride used by Nicholas Cage’s character, Randall “Memphis” Raines, in the 2000 film, Gone in 60 Seconds.
In South Africa there are a handful of beautiful Eleanor “clones”, created at great expense using the 1967 Fastback as a base model. Many people assume that these cars are in fact Shelby Mustangs, but this is not the case, although they use many Shelby styling cues.
The front valance beneath the grille on an Eleanor Mustang is deeper than it is on a Shelby, and the dual driving lights, positioned close together beneath the grille, are also the work of the stylists on that movie, rather than an original Shelby touch.
The wheels on an Eleanor, too, are different to those of a classic Shelby Mustang. The Eleanor wheels are in fact latter-day, much larger diameter wheels than used on a genuine Shelby Mustang, and the Eleanor rims were patterned to a style made famous by Halibrand, the company that supplied original Cobras with wheels back in the mid-1960s.
An interesting fact about the “Eleanor Mustang Saga” is that, to be 100 per cent historically accurate, the car that first used that name was the bulkier, 1971 Mustang fastback, used in the original 1974 version of the film, Gone in 60 Seconds. This car looked remarkably standard and even ran original-fit hubcaps!
The 2000 Eleanor was styled by an American, Steve Stanford, who cleverly up-dated the original Shelby look to be used on the 11 Eleanors built for the 2000 re-make movie. They were built up by Cinema Vehicle Services and only three were fully functional. The rest were shells used for “beauty” shots.
Once the movie became such a phenomenal global hit, the values of these 11nhistoric “Eleanors” actually used in the movie went through the roof, and one was auctioned in the US a few years back for a figure of over $1-million.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Gone in 60 Seconds, and the Fast and the Furious movie that followed 2001, set up a revival of the musclecar, street racing and customising cult that has ballooned into a world-wide passion amongst youngsters, and continues to this day.
The interest in muscle cars continues to gain a head of steam world-wide, while other smaller European cars, such as Subarus, hot Hondas and Golfs have also attained cult-status amongst the youth.
This will be evident at t he Classic Car Show on July 9 at Nasrec, south-west of Johannesburg, in both the classic and Musclecar sections in Hall 5, up on the platform near the old off-road track and in the lower section devoted to the traditional Jap vs German display area, where the accent is on huge sound systems, massive wheels and even bigger turbochargers!
Traditionally the Classic Car show has drawn a massive muscle car entry that not only includes Mustangs of all varieties, but rival competitors such as Dodge Challengers, Dodge Chargers, Chevy Camaros, Pontiac Firebirds and GTOs and the larger pre-ponycar examples of Musclecardom, such as full-sized Chevys and Fords.
The custom pick-up truck contingent is another area of customising that continues to spiral, so expect to see many never-before-seen pick-ups of the Chevy and Ford variety at Nasrec on July 9.
The Classic Car Show is a bi-annual event at Nasrec now in its sixth year of running. Car exhibitors can enter the grounds as early as 7 am from Gate Two, and the driver of each classic car will gain free entry.
Entry fee to the show is R80 each and R20 for children under 11. There will be a host of family-type entertainment on hand as well, including live music and helicopter rides at R150 for a short flip.
There will be a beer garden and a mini-prawn festival at the show, and Halaal food will also be on sale.
For more information, visit www.classiccarshow.co.za or call Paul Calisto on 082 4977218.