Court rules muscle car fans can build Eleanor-style Mustangs

Shelby Trust, the owner of the Shelby brand, won a court case that eventually allowed it and other manufacturers to build Mustangs that resemble the gray Mustangs named Eleanor from the 2000 hit movie Gone in 60 Seconds, and the yellow ones Eleanor Mustang, who starred in the original 1974 version of the film.

For years, the two car designs were copyrighted by Denise Halicki, wife of Henry Blight “Toby” Halicki, who directed the original Gone in 60 Seconds film. It won the rights in a 2008 court case against Shelby after the trust had begun licensing the 2000 design to replica makers interested in offering Eleanor-style Mustangs for sale a few years earlier.

Halicki has had licensing deals with replica makers in the past, but not with Shelby. For example, last year Classic Recreations announced a carbon-fiber-bodied Eleanor with an 810-horsepower supercharged V-8 — priced at nearly $300,000. A more traditional replica for around $200,000 was offered by Brand New Muscle Car in 2019. In both cases, the replica resembled Eleanor from the 2000 film starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie. The car in the film was based on a 1967 Ford Shelby GT500.

According to Shelby, the US District Court for the Central District of California ruled last week that both Eleanor Mustang designs (the gray 2000 design and the yellow 1974 design) do not merit copyright protection because the designs are not representative of a character who that does could be considered intellectual property.

“We can finally say to all of our key licensees and Shelby GT500 owners that Ms. Halicki has absolutely no right to complain or file a lawsuit about the appearance of a Shelby Trust-licensed car,” said Neil Cummings, a co-trustee of The Shelby Trust, which oversaw the court case, said in a statement. “The true value of all Shelby GT500s is now established with this news.”

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