Test Drive: Two Girls and a Smokin' Hot Eleanor Mustang
Every car enthusiast niche is unique – some build theirs for show, others for the drag strip, still others for dirt and then there’s those of us that just plain like to drive them. Which means they may not be the best looking or the best performing, but when it comes to enjoyment they’re high mileage. It’s what I look for whenever I drive a car and luckily Southern California provides plenty of amazing cars to sample and fantastic roads to drive them on.
Which is how I came to find myself swapping the keys of my ’55 Studebaker for that of an “Eleanor” Mustang for an afternoon of driving canyon roads off the 118. To make the day even better, Motorhead Mama was there to join in the fun! Two gearhead gals and one hopped up pony car… what could possibly go wrong?
The Only Officially Licensed Eleanor Mustang
The only Officially Licensed “Gone in 60 Seconds” Eleanor Mustang is produced by Fusion Motor Company and is built to spec in Los Angeles. For those young kids reading, if you haven’t seen the original 1974 “Gone in 60 Seconds” or the Nick Cage 2000 remake… go watch them now. While I’m partial to the original version, mostly owing to its 40-minute chase scene around Long Beach and surrounding areas, its 1973 Mustang hasn’t gone down in history as many Mustang enthusiast’s favorite model. For the 2000-version movie, they chose the more classic 1967 Mustang Fastback and gave the original Eleanor a facelift.
There are surely some homegrown builders who’ve attempted to recreate this iconic car in their own garages, and thumbs up to them for trying. After seeing the build facilities, talking to Fusion’s founder, Yoel Wazana, and driving one for myself, I’d much rather trust Fusion to work their magic in recreating the Eleanor than play hit-and-miss on my own. Because, like any hot rod tinkerer would know, building hot rods never goes as planned. Kits are never just “bolt on” and if you want your parts to play nicely together you better choose them very carefully. Yoel Wazana once-upon-a-time owned an Eleanor built by someone else and he knew he could do it better. What he's done is created a top-quality build that is true to the movie and true to what a modern enthusiast would love to drive.
What Fusion has done is take all of the guess work out of that process by perfecting it for you. They’ve done the trial and error, figured out what works best, manufactured certain things from scratch and ended up making one helluva Mustang that retains its classic Mustang characteristics while perfecting it all around.
Beginning with an original ’67-68 body, Fusion Motor Company gets to work, starting with the chassis and body. The suspension gets a huge upgrade, the shock towers are deleted making way for coilovers and a full 4-link rear set-up by Detroit Speed. The powerplant gets modernized with a Roush Coyote V8 available in a number of different configurations. The version we drove was the “basic” Roush Coyote churning out 430 hp backed up to a Tremec 5-speed.
Fusion's Eleanor is Like a Perfect '67 Mustang... But Better
Before getting Eleanor onto the twisty roads of Box Canyon, Motorhead Mama and I had to back out of Fusion’s parking lot. Getting in any manual car, there’s always that first acceleration where you’re trying to find the clutch balance. As this was a reverse situation, I grimaced a little at the pressure I felt as the Fusion guys watched me navigate this new-to-me ride. The Roush Coyote was already singing a glorious tune of rumble and responded quickly as soon as the clutch pedal found its sweet spot. With just one incidence of letting the car die, we were out on the road. It didn’t take us long to feel confident with the clutch trigger and we were upshifting like a boss while Eleanor’s ownership of the road was emitting girly squeals from both passenger and driver.
Stoplights elicited surprised looks from males, not expecting to see two ladies inside such a classic beast. Getting it to the freeway enabled us to truly open it up, and boy did she go. The neat thing about older cars is that you don’t need a supercar to have fun. Eleanor felt fully 1967 Mustang while at the same time having the suspension, power and stability to make us feel confident behind the wheel with smiles glued on. As Motorhead Mama put it, “Fusions take on the Eleanor is like that older girl in high school that everyone wants to get with. She turns heads, you can't miss her in a crowd and everyone is quick to judge her. But in reality, we're all jealous because she's the perfect combination of experience and performance while being as fun as possible.”
With Box Canyon being a milder canyon road, it’s twisty bits provided plenty of fun for what Eleanor was meant for. She’s not going to carve turns like a Ferrari, but she’s going to give you the driving experience of true vintage American muscle. The suspension and Nittos kept you grounded just enough, but you still felt the threat of the rear-end on the edge… which is just what makes the ride exciting.
After taking my turn driving I handed the keys over to Motorhead Mama, but wished I could just keep going. The interior on our version was the base model, which means a fully appointed sound system and air conditioning while the seats and door panels were show-room quality stock.
The wood steering wheel and old-style bucket seats feel just right, with extra touches like the “Go-Baby-Go” shift knob button and custom gauges going the distance to remind you you’re sitting in something special.
Off we went again, with the Eleanor sending us into laughing fits and girly squeals, proving that girls really do have more fun… especially when we’re driving an Eleanor. If you want a piece of the fun we had in Fusion Motor Company’s Eleanor Mustang, build your own on their website or stop by Fusion Luxury Motorsports in Chatsworth, California.