“Gone in 60 Seconds” star Eleanor heads to auction, but was she always a ‘Stang?

For car enthusiasts, the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” represents one thing: Sure, it’s filled with machines capable of making a car guy weep, and Jerry Bruckheimer’s production was worthy of the film’s estimated $90 million budget. But despite esteemed actors such as Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie and Robert Duvall, there was only one true star in the movie. Her name was Eleanor, and she was a 1967 Mustang GT500. But if not for the cost, Eleanor mightn't have been a ‘Stang at all.

On May 18, at Mecum’s Spring Classic auction in Indianapolis, the modified 1967 Ford Mustang - affectionately known as Eleanor - will hit the block, sold to the highest, luckiest, quick-triggered bidder around.

Several ’67 ‘Stangs were built for the movie, but this particular machine – sporting serial number 7R02C179710 – marks the “hero” car driven by Cage and was used throughout the movie’s promotional material.

Cinema Vehicle Services created Eleanor, with a little assistance from legendary designer Chip Foose. Molds were constructed from the clay and mud mockups to produce a modified fiberglass appearance, boasting PIAA driving lights, larger fender flares, side skirts, and various aggressive scoops. A 400-hp upgraded V-8 engine was also installed to add muscle, but even despite these additions, the ’67 Mustang was not necessarily Bruckheimer’s first choice.

Legend has it, Bruckheimer originally sought a Ford GT40 for the role of Eleanor, but despite the healthy production budget, a fleet of GT40s proved too costly. The Mustang GT500 was always on the radar, but concerns arose as to whether the Mustang could hang with the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and even a Jaguar XJ220 (named Bernadine) that had already been confirmed for the movie. Bruckheimer decided a variation of the '67 Mustang was in order.

That variation designed by Chip Foose turned into an icon. An icon with side-exit exhausts; made purely for show. A monstrous nitrous kit, fired by a button reading "Go Baby Go," wasn't.

This particular Mustang marks one of the most famous cars from the early 21st-century. It remains beautiful, aggressive, and characterful; real American muscle destroying its European rivals. For sale by the very owner who created her – Cinema Vehicle Services – Mecum estimates it stands to sell for around $300,000. As cool as a GT40 remains, I for one am thankful she became a '67 'Stang.

Photo: David Newhardt, courtesy of Mecum Auctions