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15 Aug 2016

Ghostbusters Ecto-1



Text and Photos: Reinis Babrovskis

When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call? If there’s something weird and it don’t look good? If you’re seeing things running through your head, who can you call? GHOSTBUSTERS...
I ain’t afraid of no ghost.

It’s been exactly 32 years since the release of one of the greatest all time movies: “The Ghostbusters”. The story of four men driving around the ECTO-1 in the streets of New York whilst chasing ghosts is known by young and old. It was amazing to see the movie return to the big screens for its third sequel in 2016. 

Whilst many fans were disappointed in the all-female-lead cast and the complete overhaul of the famous Ghostbusters HQ (New York fire-station), as well as the all new Ecto-1, I on the other hand was happy to see the return of the franchise; allowing the newer generations to experience the thrills we once got to have ourselves.

One of the key stars of the 1984 classic was the red and white 1959 Cadillac Series 75, converted into an ambulance by Miller Meteor coachworks; better known as the Ecto-1. This car suddenly became an icon on its own, being equally as famous as the 4 characters driving it in the movie. The Ghostbusters car was equipped with futuristic specter gadgets, ridiculously large and very annoying siren, and the famous bright yellow ECTO-1 number plate. Yeah, and everybody wanted to own one as a child. 

How many of us dreamt of being able to slide down that fire-station pole, get into the Ecto-1 and go chase some ghosts...Well I know at least one beside me: Mike Barr from "Star Car Hire" in UK had always wanted one, in fact so much, he actually built one.

Mike (Star Car Hire) specialises in famous movie and TV programme vehicle hire, and already is a proud owner of many great cars, including the Eleanor, General Lee etc.; however, the Ecto-1 had always been a dream of his to own, but with the prices of the classic 1959 Cadillac going sky high, it looked like this dream will never become a reality. That is, until the release of the new movie and the all-new car turned things around.

Since the movie was still in production and full details on the new Ecto-1 were not publicly available, Mike had no time to waste and was on a hunt for his own Ghostbuster. He was relying on movie set pictures found on the internet. The 2016 film used a red and black 1984 Cadillac converted into a hearse. He was able to get his hands on a slightly younger Cadillac model with different headlights and raised roofline.

The car was located in Missouri, it was totally standard black Cadillac hearse that was owned by an 80 year old who was collecting all sorts of weird retro things; it was in a good running condition with barely 50 thousand miles on the clock. It was promptly purchased and delivered to Mike by Autofreight. Before the conversion took place Mike enjoyed driving the car around his town where the locals gave him all sorts of weird looks as you can imagine. Mike's Ecto-1 was built in 1991 Lansing, Michigan Plant as a Fleetwood Brougham four door sedan before it was converted into a hearse by Superior Coach company.

The Cadillac is powered by 305 cubic inch American V8 producing around 170hp, and even though the engine sounds aggressive, it is not going anywhere fast: 0-60mph takes around 12 seconds. But since this car was fully working inside and out there was no need to alter anything under the hood.

The makeover began with the wheels, it was the first thing Mike did before the black Cadillac got fully wrapped in white and received authentic stickers, as painting the massive car would have taken far too long. The roof of the car was also fully restored.

Obviously the most important part was the bonnet mascot; since it is not a part one could just go and order on ebay Mike was very happy when Sony Entertainment themselves offered to gift the one and only copy they had, so a lovely ghost is always leading the Ecto-1 way.

The authentic replica roof was constructed by Mike's uber-talented friend Declan McFerran, whilst mechanic Davy Hall looked after the mechanical things. The siren came from a tractor in Canada (the movie uses a much larger flashing light, but it was impossible to find one), whilst the rear lights were made by a guy in UK who also does work for real police cars.

The interior of the car was left pretty much standard, as until the movie was released it was anybody's guess what the new Ecto-1 will have in store. The original blue brocade interior is very good condition and dare I say the hearse is "comfortable" place to be in.

It took Mike six weeks to transform the 90ies hearse into the new Ghostbusters Ecto-1 car and it has been the biggest conversion job he has tackled on any of his cars, but it was worth it, he admits. The Ecto-1 gets cheers everywhere he goes with people asking him to stop for photos.


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