What is a "checkbook gearhead" with an undying passion for a clone of the 1967 "Eleanor" (R) Mustang (R) from the 2000 remake of "Gone in Sixty Seconds"(R) and a spare $140,000.00 burning a hole in the pocket of his (or her) designer jeans to do?
The ANSWER according to the legendary Carroll Shelby used to be to see his (former) Texas licensee Doug Hasty down at Unique Performance for an officially-licensed Shelby GT500E (R).
But Unique's performance in building cars turned out to be anything but hasty.
Unique collapsed into a Texas-sized heap of despair and recriminations. Six-figure customer deposits were hastily spent. A phalanx of Texas lawmen hastily swooped into Unique's shop to "rip the car cover" off of alleged title washing and fraud. When it got hotter than a Terlinqua Chili cookoff , Old Shelby hastily defrocked Hasty. Hasty returned fire, blaming Shelby for supplying bad engines. And now, a fleet of rusty, unfinished "Bondo wagon" Mustang hulls (the ones that weren't seized by the police) and Unique's shop equipment have been hastily auctioned.
That's a bigger mess than the swath of fictional carnage left by Toby Halicki in the original "Gone in 60 Seconds!"
As Speedzzter wrote on Autoblog:
Sadly, the Shelby legacy is quickly becoming one of ripping off the customers. Whether it's the sordid Unique Performance saga, or the insane dealer gouging on the Shelby GT500, or the poor "bang-for-the-buck of the wholly underwhelming "Shelby GT" Mustang . . ., the "Shelby" brand is becoming synonymous overpriced disappointment.
The Unique mess isn't the first time that the Shelby brand has been a virtual synonym for long delays, shaky business plans, and expensive disappointments. See, Snake Bit: Carroll Shelby's Controversial Series 1 Sports Car by Eric Davison.
Of course, Ol' Shel seldom goes down without a fight . . . a court fight that is -- as scores of current and former Shelby opponents can testify, including Ford Motor Company (R) (now back in Carroll's good graces), various copiers of the 1960s Powered-by-Ford (tm) AC Roadster, SAAC (tm), and even the widow of "Gone in 60 Seconds" (R) creator Toby Halicki, Denise Halicki.
It's enough for all but the most stubborn to give up the dream of turnkey "stylin' like Nic Cage with 'Eleanor.'"
(And that's not such a bad option, considering the arguable aesthetic bankruptcy of cloning 1967 "Eleanors.")
Innumerable small custom shops will gladly wade into the void left by Unique's hasty exit with all sorts of unlicensed, outlaw clones. This will undoubtedly make plenty of work for Shelby's legal team for years to come.
However, Yukon, Oklahoma's Jason Engel, 33, is charting a different course. Throwing in with Denise Halicki in the still-raging war over just who owns the "exclusive right" to the "Eleanor" name, Engel's small company, Classic Recreations, L.L.C., is reportedly the World's only "true and officially licensed" builder of the "'Gone in 60 Seconds' 'Eleanor' movie star car."
And some of you thought Yukon, Oklahoma, was only known as the former home of country music star Garth Brooks.
At least until Shelby's lawyers figure out an attack plan, Jason Engel is offering Halicki-licensed, don't-call-them-Shelby-GT500, naturally-aspirated 535-horsepower '67 "Official Eleanor" clones for $139,900.00, and a supercharged 770-horse "FIS" model for a another $50,000.00 or so more.
Engel's engines are reportedly supplied by Arkansas-based racing engine builder Keith Craft. Colors are up to the buyer (although reportedly 90% of the lemmings . . . er . . . "Official Eleanor" buyers opt for the "pepper gray" hue of the movie star car).
But what about the Shelby badges?
"Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!"
Actually, Halicki has designed her own custom badges for the "Official Eleanors")
Of course, if you just have to have those Shelby badges as seen in the movie, you'll probably have to score a set from Tony D. Branda and stick them on yourself (at least until SOMEONE (you know who) cooks up a way to stop that).
Given the apparent rift between Shelby and Rick Kopec's SAAC (tm) (which was the faithful keeper of the real Shelby flame during all the decades when Ol' Shel was off hunting, playing with chili, and tarting up Lee Iacocca's FWD Chryslers), an owner of an "officially licensed" Classic Recreations Mustang might even get a front row parking space at the next SAAC event . . . .
Or maybe not.
By the way, Speedzzter probably wouldn't count on any special welcomes for Classic Recreations owners from SAAC competitor "Team Shelby" . . . . (although it ought to make for a lot of fun at the annual Mid America Ford and Team Shelby Nationals event, held just up Old Route 66 from Yukon in Tulsa)
So, for those of ample wallet who still have some "Go Baby Go" money left after dealing with former Carroll Shelby licensee Doug Hasty, Classic Recreations might be the place that can arrange a date with the "Official Eleanor." Only time (and a lot more than sixty seconds) will tell.
As to all those whose "Eleanor" money is already "Gone Baby, Gone," perhaps you can discuss it with Ol' Shel down at the courthouse . . . .
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