Fernando Gomez's '73 Mustang Mach 1 "Eleanor Beast"
I can tell you firsthand that one single movie sealed my love affair with cars. It was Gone in 60 Seconds, the original, first released in 1974. I remember watching it on the very first video cassette recorder my parents bought, an Akai with four heads and two speeds. As movies go, the plot is almost non-existent, the dialog hardly memorable, but the cars are something else. Then there's the chase scene. Lasting for approximately 40 minutes, it's realistic in the extreme, hardly surprising since the film was shot on a shoestring budget. The chase itself revolves around the lead character, Maindrian Pace, stealing the last of a lot of cars destined for shipment to South America, and it's the one he's been having the most trouble with-a '73 Mustang SportsRoof. After having to return two examples back to their owners for insurance reasons, he thinks he's gotten away, stealing the third from an underground parking lot. But as he disables the car's alarm system, he's spotted by the cops, who are parked across the street in their '70 Mercury Montego. A massive chase ensues, with the Mustang becoming increasingly worse for wear, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The movie was remade in 2000, but somehow the flashy Hollywood edition, although better scripted and more slickly directed, just didn't have the same "it" factor as the original, though it did send interest and prices of '67 Shelbys and clones through the roof.
However, as popular as that second Eleanor has become, there are those who still prefer the original-guys like Fernando Gomez. A serious car enthusiast, Fernando runs a restoration shop called Essen Service and has amassed and built many nice rides over the years, including a '46 Ford Business Coupe, a pair of Lincoln Zephyrs, a '50 Ford, and a '62 Galaxie ragtop. But the largely custom-built Mustang featured here probably takes the cake. The fact that Fernando calls Mexico City, Mexico, home, where restoring and building cars is a lot more challenging than up here, makes this pony all the more impressive.
Building a Tribute
But why go to such extraordinary lengths? Well, quite simply, Fernando wanted to showcase what the second Eleanor probably should have been, and there's certain logic to this: "The original was a '73, and when the new movie came out they had this modified Shelby.So I thought it would be cool to incorporate elements of both, using a '73 Mustang and adding some of the elements from the '67 in the second film. The '73 isn't as popular as the '67 in classic Mustang circles, but it was the original Eleanor and I think it's important that people recognize that."
The project started out as a '73 Mach 1 SportsRoof that had been botched in an attempt at customization. So before he could even start making his stamp on the project, it needed to be stripped completely. Although the car is still recognizable as a '73 today, there's precious little of the original car that remains aside from most of the roof, rear deck, and underbelly. "The wide-body fenders are custom," says Fernando. "Each of them was handmade and formed-they're steel, not fiberglass. The rear ones were particularly difficult to do because they're integrated with the rear of the car and were widened by 7 inches to cover the rear tires and give the car the right look." They also incorporate cooling gills ahead of the wheels, lending a somewhat European exotic look to the Mach.