With all due respect to movie cars, they can be both a blessing and a curse to their real-life counterparts, and the Eleanor Mustang is a perfect example. The star car of the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds, a '67 Mustang, became an instant phenomenon, spawning an entire cottage industry of Bondo-drenched and kitted knockoff's built by guys looking to make a quick profit. That is unfortunate because, amid the clutter, there were several really good builders turning out quality '67 Mustangs. You have to look a little closer, but the differences are there.
Jason Engel is the owner of Classic Recreations, a company that specializes in custom-built, Shelby-licensed GT500 Mustangs, and we've been looking for the opportunity to shoot one of his cars for a few months now. We finally caught up with him at last year's Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational where he was wringing out the car you see here, a car that left the event in a semi on its way to the owner.
Jason grew up working on cars, so it was a natural fit to create a business doing what he loves. He builds Shelby GT500 CRs (Classic Recreations) to order for individual buyers according to their specs."Each car is tailored to what the customer wants. Some people want fingerprint-ID touch start instead of a key start, and some want different color welt cords in the seats. I'm working on a stripe-delete car right now," he says. This particular car was built for a guy who wanted to be able to perform well on a road course but be quiet and comfortable enough to go on trips with his wife. To accomplish that, Jason said he put three levels of sound deadening throughout theinterior, poly-fill inside the quarter-panels, and four pairs of mufflers in the exhaust. That's the quiet stuff. The loud stuff consists of a 427ci Windsor-style Dart block that makes more than 500 hp. Backed by a TKO trans and riding on a completely revamped suspension, the car more than held its own on the track at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch.
Comparisons to a certain movie car are inevitable, but Google "Eleanor Mustang" and look at these two cars side by side. The differences will be obvious. Jason uses real GT500 hoods, headlights, side scoops, decklids, and endcaps for his cars. The rocker panels and front fascia are his own creations and intended to be aerodynamically functional. The designs received Carroll Shelby's blessing, and Classic Recreations is a fully licensed Shelby builder. Don't think we're shilling for Jason's company. He told us he wants to limit production to between 15 and 20 cars per year. At those numbers, he doesn't need any help from us.
Who: Jason Engel
Where: Yukon, OK
What: '67 Shelby GT500CR
Engine: Eagle Machine in Buffalo, Missouri, did the prep work on the Dart small-block. The crank and rods are from Eagle, the pistons are from Diamond, and the rings come from Total Seal. The combination adds up to 427 inches with a 10.0:1 compression ratio. AFR 205 cylinder heads are bolted on top, and they're equipped with Comp springs and rocker arms actuating Manley valves. The cam is also from Comp, and the specs are 238/242 degrees duration and 0.555/0.576 lift. The Mass Flo EFI system offers stellar performance and excellent driveability. On the dyno, this package is good for 540 hp and 580 lb-ft.
Transmission: This Shelby puts the power to the ground through a TKO-600 five-speed transmission. Sandwiched in the middle is a McLeod twin-disc clutch. Inland Truck Parts made the custom driveshaft that connects to a Chassisworks Fab 9 rear axle with 3.55 gears on a Detroit Locker differential.
Chassis: A Rod & Custom Motorsports front suspension corrects some of the funky, early-Mustang steering geometry. The kit employs a rack-and-pinion steering system and a Mustang II-style control arm suspension. The rear suspension is a Total Control Products g-Bar Canted 4-Bar kit that includes VariShock coilovers.
Paint/Body: All the body panels are built and installed in-house at Classic Recreations. The paint scheme on this car is DuPont YZ White under '08 Viper blue stripes.
Interior: While some muscle cars have interiors that look like they were built as an afterthought, this car's interior looks like a great place to spend some time on a road trip. The Procar bucket seats are comfy and well-bolstered and were finished to match an original Deluxe interior. The Hurricane A/C system will keep its new owner chilled like a fine wine, while the Pioneer stereo kicks out Jason's favorite jams.
Brakes/Wheels/Tires: Baer T4 brakes are on all four corners. The rolling stock consists of 17x8 and 17x9.5 American Racing Shelby AC Cobra wheels and 245/45ZR17 and 275/40ZR17 Nittos all around.