Only four months ago, ChromeCars made headlines with the spectacular discovery of a GM Futurliner that was long believed to have been lost. And now the team of classic
car enthusiasts and scouts has another sensation up their sleeves. The Jena-based ‘automotive archaeologists’ recently acquired one of only three original “Hero Cars” used in the filming of Gone in 60 Seconds. In the role of car thief Memphis Raines, Nicholas Cage triggered much enthusiasm in the muscle-car community when paired with the legendary 1967 Shelby GT500 – nicknamed “Eleanor” – in the 2000 cult flick.
ChromeCars founders Kai Nieklauson and Oliver Schneider, along with Mustang expert Chris Zöllner, were not immune to the excitement either. When Eleanor first swept onto the screen in all her beauty, everyone first thought it was a regular Mustang GT500. But the vehicle turned out to be a completely new interpretation of the classic car.
California-based Cinema Vehicle Service (CVS) produced 11 cars for Gone in 60 Seconds, including three fully functioning Shelbys. They are called “Hero Cars” because they are only used in scenes featuring the stars themselves and because they also have to be in good condition for the filming of longer scenes. Once Gone in 60 Seconds wrapped, only a pile of wrecked Shelbys and the Hero Cars were left. The latter were brought back to CVS to be retrofitted and readied for eventual resale. When realizing the huge demand for these movie cars, CVS decided to produce a limited edition (rumored to be 150) of Eleanor assembly kits. Wheel rims, exhaust systems and fiberglass add-ons were all part of the package. Not surprisingly, numerous tuners and providers tried to capitalize on the boom by producing their own replicas, some of which were even officially licensed. When Nieklauson and Schneider managed to get their hands on one of these replicas, it spurred the idea of starting a company dedicated to searching for prototypes and classic cars with a special history: ChromeCars was born and the quest for an “original Eleanor” began.
For the ChromeCars team a dream came true when they finally got a chance to put in a bid for the Eleanor Hero Car with the CVS-registered chassis number #7. The specimen is indeed a genuine
contemporary high-performance car equipped with a nine-inch Lincoln rear axle, a complete chassis upgrade including coilovers, high-performance wishbones, rack-and-pinion power steering, stabilizers by TCP (Total Control Products) as well as a 351cid high-performance engine made by Ford Racing. CVS also replaced the mock-up lateral exhaust systems used for the filming with a BORLA dual pipe system with mufflers, which were hard to obtain even back then. Today, this system is a key identifier of a genuine Hero Car.
After the shoot, CVS sold Hero Car #7 to a collector in the UK who held onto it until 2012. After that the trace was lost. The ChromeCars team remains tight-lipped about how exactly their Eleanor deal came about or how much money changed hands. But for now they have no plans to sell her any time soon.