- It was coming together so well... so much for that now! B for Build image courtesy of AutoEvolution.

YouTube star has dream Mustang build taken away after copyright battle

What do you get when you graft a 1967 'Eleanor' body kit onto a 2015 Ford Mustang? Probably a cease and desist followed by a court ordered seizure.

MT Blake posted in USA News
33w ago
128.2K

For many people 2020 seems to get worse by the week. For Chris Steinbacher from 'B for Build' it got a lot worse. His documentation of transforming a 2015 Ford Mustang GT into the classic 'Eleanor' shape from the 2000 movie 'Gone in 60 Seconds' has been tossed into the rubbish bin. Chris updated his channel and talked about how the Mustang has been seized and all videos of the build are gone.

I doubt many people would recognize this as a Mustang.

I doubt many people would recognize this as a Mustang.

Chris states his lack of a license to the copyright and trademark for the 'Eleanor' is where he ran into issues. The car itself is now property of the company Gone in 60 Seconds. The owner of the company, Denice Shakarian Halicki, is known for enforcing the trademark to 'Eleanor' star car with such fervor that she even went after Carroll Shelby in the mid-2000s and won.

You might be wondering, how did Denice Halicki come to own the rights to Eleanor? Denice is the widow of Toby Halicki who directed, produced, and acted in the original 'Gone in 60 Seconds' movie. The original movie, of course, had a copyright and stared a 1971 Mustang Fastback that was uniquely modified to have the appearance of a Mach 1. After Toby's death in 1989 his rights fell to his beneficiary, Denice and she has owned them ever since.

Where this gets strange is that it appears the car Chris was trying to emulate wasn't originally subject to a copyright and trademark. The second 'Gone in 60 Seconds' movie was released in 2000 and produced by Disney. The 'Eleanor' from this second movie is stark in contrast to the yellow pony from the first film. Disney and Denice struck a deal where the company stated that it does not own any rights to 'Eleanor'.

The body panels actually fit quite well after Chris got his hands on it.

The body panels actually fit quite well after Chris got his hands on it.

they are terrible people, parading around as car people, [with] a history of being lawsuit-happy dickheads

Chris - B is for Build

Denice was not the first to apply for a trademark for the second silver 'Eleanor'. That trophy goes to Carroll Shelby. He applied for it first and only after filing suit against Shelby, did Denice apply for her own trademark for the silver 'Stang. Ultimately, Denice was vindicated in court and confirmed to own the rights to any Mustang named 'Eleanor' or tied to the 'Gone in 60 Seconds' movie.

Now that's out of the way, it brings us back to Chris and his 2015 Mustang / 'Eleanor' hybrid. I was passively watching this build and noticed he recently got it running and driving. I hadn't seen any updates since - until I saw everything implode.

There are plenty of instances of companies viciously protecting their intellectual property. We as a people should support intellectual rights, as anyone should get credit for the things they create. Where I think this particular case strikes a cord is going after the little guy. There could have been so much more possible had the company been able to strike a deal with Chris and let him continue his build. Publicity for all is a win for all.

A horse by any other name could have flown under the wire.

A horse by any other name could have flown under the wire.

Due to the current legal status Chris isn't able to elaborate about details of the chain of events. In an interview with TheDrive, Chris stated, "I do know that I can give my opinion on the team at gonein60seconds.com and tell you they are terrible people, parading around as car people, [with] a history of being lawsuit-happy dickheads. Just the most unpleasant, terrible people I've ever had the misfortune to have to deal with in my life," he said. "And that's not just me being mad about what happened, it's just the way these people decided to handle themselves."

Companies that enforce their trademark and copyrights to seemingly fanatical levels aren't able to pick and choose who they go after as, in my opinion, it could be seen as a defense for the defendant. 'Why are you going after me, when you didn't go after him?' It seems like a valid excuse - cherry picking intellectual lawsuits to go after the low hanging fruit. In this case, Chris was low hanging fruit, but he was also fruit, and they want all the fruit for themselves, because they can.

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Comments (178)

  • The fact that they SEIZED HIS VEHICLE is theft. Pure theft. This isn't right whatsoever.

      7 months ago
    • Either he gave it up in a deal not to be prosecuted or it was seized per court order.

        7 months ago
    • Either way this is unfair.

        7 months ago
  • Guess we should be careful as we were thinking about naming our next daughter Eleanor Shelby.

      7 months ago
  • Let me get this right

    Guy buys car

    Decides to spend his own time and money to make it look like a movie car

    Names it after said movie car

    Movie car company takes it away.

    WTF?!

      7 months ago
    • You summarized my article very well.

        7 months ago
    • Do you think that if he never had mentioned the name “Eleanor” that they would have had a case against him?

        7 months ago
  • Denice sounds like one of those Karens who are like ‘OMG I OWN THAT NOW IM GONNA SUE YOU’ for no fucking reason

      7 months ago
  • Couldn’t he just change the name to Bob. The Ford Mustang Bob. 👍

      7 months ago
    • I think the mistake was to link it to the movie n keeping the same name. Another name and no reference dude would be in the clear... lesson learned for all watching

        7 months ago
    • I believe the problem may have stemmed from the owner's video's and use of the name "Eleanor" in them. Haven't seen any of the vids and am now unlikely to, just a hunch.

        7 months ago
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