Gone in 60 Seconds Mustangs
Inside the Gone In Sixty Seconds Mustangs
Once the prototype pieces were completed and the molds were made, theproject moved into the hands of Ray Claridg's Cinema Vehicle Services(CVS), where construction of the actual Eleanors took place.
"In all my time in this business," explains Ray Claridg, "this was thetoughest show." Because of the screen time the Eleanor Mustang wouldhave and the stunts it would be asked to do, several Eleanors would haveto be built. The occasional improvisation of the production of the filmitself further complicated the issue; script changes were constant andthe needs of the filmmakers practically changed daily. Ultimately, therewould be 12 Eleanors built for the film, including the prototype thatdidn't appear in the movie.
Construction of the Eleanors started with the CVS staff scouring theSouthern California want ads, searching for '67 and '68 Mustangfastbacks. The cars CVS acquired ranged from clapped-out machines withleaky 289s to at least one Mustang GT powered by a 390. All the cars inthe movie are '67s, and none were actual Shelbys.
Because certain cars were required to do different things in the courseof the film, no two Eleanors were alike. Many of the Eleanors remain inCVS' inventory, but they've all been twisted, fiddled with, and rebuiltso many times, it's hard to determine their original condition when theyappeared in the movie. And apparently, CVS didn't take any pangs tocatalog all the cars.
Some of the cars received Lincoln Versailles rearends, and at least oneof the cars was geared for high-speed running along the concrete canalsof the Los Angeles River. All the cars were lowered, but some of themreceived a Total Control rack-and-pinion steering system and engine baybracing. Some of the cars were built to slide around corners, some werebuilt to survive a jump, and others were built to be crushed in ajunkyard.
Up close, the Eleanors are a mix of sweet design work and expedientengineering. These cars weren't built to last a lifetime, win a carshow, or go extremely fast; they were built to look good in a movie anddo their particular task well.
Of the 12 Eleanors built, 7 survived the filming to end up back in CVS'possession. Two of the cars were destroyed doing the climactic jump onLos Angeles' Vincent Thomas Bridge at the end of the film. That jump wasdone in segments: in the first segment, a car jumped off a ramp and wasdestroyed during the landing. Another car had a longer jump, and itlanded in a pile of cushioning boxes. That car, according to stuntcoordinator Johnny Martin, actually came out in surprisingly good(though still damaged) condition. Another car was suspended from wiresfor the portion of the jump between the takeoff and the landing. Acomputer-generated Eleanor was used for a few seconds during the jump aswell. And finally, another Mustang was destroyed when it jumped off aplatform and back down onto the bridge's unforgiving tarmac to completethe jump. That car was definitely totaled.
Two more Eleanors were destroyed in the film's final scenes when the caris seen being snatched up in a junkyard and put into a crusher.Destroying that many Mustangs seemed like an utter waste of perfectlygood cars. But it's all in a day's work for Hollywood.
The best Eleanor of those used in the film actually plays the leastpristine of the bunch. CVS was in the process of building an Eleanorwith a new Ford Motorsport 351 crate engine and all the best mechanicalpieces (Versailles rearend, rack-and-pinion steering) when theproduction put out a call for a car to play Kip's gift to Memphis at theend of the film--a ratty Shelby. The car that was in the process ofbecoming the nicest Eleanor of them all--finished in primer, fitted witha derelict front bench seat, and mismatched steel wheels--was chosen toplay that car. So the nicest Eleanor you see in the film, is actuallythe cruddiest looking.