Muscle Car Factory: Eleanor build no.2

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1967 Mustang Fastback 'Eleanor' 1967 Mustang Fastback 'Eleanor' 1967 Mustang Fastback 'Eleanor'
1967 Mustang Fastback 'Eleanor' 1967 Mustang Fastback 'Eleanor' 1967 Mustang Fastback 'Eleanor'

Eleanor build #2: We visit the Muscle Car Factory in Melbourne to see what it takes to build a replica of one of the most famous Mustangs ever, a 1967 Fastback 'Eleanor'

 

1967 Mustang Fastback 'Eleanor'

It’s one of the most famous Mustangs ever, and as recently as 2013 one of the movie cars changed hands for an eye-watering US$1 million. We’re talking of course about ‘Eleanor’, the 1967 Fastback restyled by legendary designer Steve Stanford. The car was the hero in the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds.

Leo Banks of the Muscle Car Factory in Melbourne makes a good part of his living building Eleanor replicas. He jokes, "That movie is the reason I’m still employed. As  soon as people saw that car, they wanted it."

We figured this was as good a time as any to track the process of building one, and to cover it in coming issues of the magazine.

For Leo, the process is not a resto. He much prefers to effectively remanufacture the car. To his way of thinking, it’s the surest means of making sure the car is right and will last. Even good cars have rust hidden in them and so he prefers to start from scratch.

"These days the only cars you can get are gutted with rust," he says. "So you have the added expense of basically building them from scratch. There’s no point in buying a
car worth 50 grand, just to tear it down and use practically nothing from the car.

"What we’re famous for doing is replacing everything – roof skins, quarter panels, door shells, guards. Everything gets blasted.

Mostly we’re really only working with the original cage, the pillars and not a lot else.

"We convert it to right-hand drive, so there’s a brand new firewall, upper and lower vent panel, new right-hand drive dash, new skirts and rails if it needs it, and floorpans. We start with new exterior sheet metal on all of them, no matter what.

"I’ve had really good-looking cars come in that I’ll pull the skins off, because there’s always rust behind there. No matter what it looks like, it’s still a 50-year-old panel and it’s at that stage when the rust is going to pop through. You don’t take that chance. For the sake of a roof skin and some quarter panels, on a $200,000 car, it’s not worth taking the risk.

"Door shells are notorious for rust because there’s a cavity at the lower front, as a reinforcement, and there’s always rust in there. Fix it with patch panels and it will
always come back. So you get a new door shell.

"The quality is about 95-98 per cent there on new panels, because they (the suppliers) spent a lot of money on fresh tooling. Then it’s up to the experience of the person
installing it to make it fit right. If you have to cut and fit and extend and file to get the gaps right, then that’s what you do.

"You’ve got another month at least in fabrication work. After that there’s another month for two guys to get the car fitted up and ready for paint." Banks has his own jigs, to ensure the end result is dead straight.

"It depends on how bad the car is. I’ve had some where you’re virtually replacing everything from the front bumper bar to the rear bumper bar. There can be 300-400 hours easy in the body, and at least a few thousand hours in the car, all up. They’re very labour intensive, and that’s all done here, so it’s not cheap. You’re paying for skilled labour." (Speaking of which, he’s looking for more fabricators and panel beaters – so get in touch if you have the skills.)

Watch this space for the next update where we’ll take a closer look at what’s involved in fitting and finishing that body. 

Contact details:

Muscle Car Factory

Factory 4 / 13-23 Japaddy St,
Mordialloc VIC 3195

Phone: 03 9580 3548

Website: www.musclecarfactory.com.au/

 

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