Introducing the Ecto-1 – The Ghostbusters’ Iconic Car
As the Ghostbusters took on countless ghostly adventures on the streets of New York City, they needed a reliable set of wheels to get them from one spooky hotspot to another.
Enter their trusty steed, otherwise known as the Ectomobile or Ecto-1.
The Ghostbusters’ car is a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor combination car. The makeshift ambulance conversion car burst onto the scene (more like wailed) in the 1984 Ghostbusters film. And went through some makeovers in subsequent films like Ghostbusters II. And the 2006 reboot, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, and the latest instalment in the franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
The history of the Ecto-1 from the original Ghostbusters film involves more than one car. Sony Pictures rolled out three different 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor hearses in the first two Ghostbusters films. One played the role of the wrecked car that Ray Stantz (played by Dan Aykroyd) purchased. Another is the original Ecto-1 in the 1984 film. And a third as the tuned-up Ecto-1a in the 1989 sequel.
In the first film, scientist and Ghostbuster Ray Stantz stumbled upon the vehicle. He found it after mortgaging his mother’s house to purchase the fire house. Ray humorously lists the numerous components that need fixing. But ultimately manages to get the vehicle up and running.
After the upgrades, the station wagon served as the Ghostbusters’ ride. Carrying both the team and their ghost-hunting equipment throughout the bustling streets of New York City on their hunts for ghosts and ghouls.
Notable features of the Ecto-1 include a pull-out rack in the rear (ambulance Gurney). Which holds the Ghostbusters’ proton packs and many gadgets mounted on the vehicle’s roof.
The Cinematic History of the Ecto-1
As one of Hollywood’s most famous cars, the Ecto-1 has a captivating history. It spans all three Ghostbusters films, both on and off-screen.
When Ghostbusters hit the big screens in 1984, it achieved iconic status. The film blended comedy, science fiction, horror, and action. Like many famous films, one of the standout elements of Ghostbusters is its iconic car.
The Ecto-1 used a 1959 Cadillac professional chassis built by the Miller-Meteor company. This model was a combination of an ambulance and a hearse. And it belonged to the end loader variety.
After Ray Stantz repaired the vehicle for ghost-busting activities, the heart of the Ghostbusters franchise was born!
Ghostbusters II (1989)
After their triumph in the first film, the Ghostbusters hung up their proton packs. And the Ecto-1 took on a different role (no longer chasing after ghosts). The iconic vehicle became Ray and Winston’s transport to children’s birthday parties.
The Ecto-1 fell into disrepair, as seen in the film. Spewing smoke and experiencing various mechanical issues. Surprisingly, those were not special effects! A problem arose with the original vehicle. So, the team turned to the second Cadillac they used in production.
Ghostbusters made a comeback in 1989 after catching the Scoleri Brothers. And they decided to give the Ecto-1 a major makeover and rebrand it as the Ecto-1a. The two cars were nearly identical, with only minor mods between them.
The Events Between Ghostbusters II and Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Ghostbusters II would be the last time we would see the car for another 22 years. We see it next in the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021. But an interesting backstory to the Ecto-1 unfolded both on and off-screen.
Off-screen, the Ecto-1 saw a significant facelift in production. The film lore is that Egon made substantial adjustments to the vehicle. He made the addition of an extendable gunner seat. The door folded flat against the vehicle’s body. To allow the operation of a Proton Pack without the need to lean out of a window.
A ramp on the floor was installed so that the Ghostbusters could deploy a Remote Trap Vehicle (RTV). It was a ghost trap on wheels that could follow alongside the Cadillac.
The changes and events marked major moments in the life of the Ecto-1, shaping its history in the Ghostbusters universe.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
After nearly 22 years, Ghostbusters fans would finally see the iconic car back in action. In June 2021, Egon Spengler’s grandson Trevor stumbled upon the beat-up and completely non-functional Ecto-1 on his family’s farm. With some guidance from Egon’s ghost, Trevor managed to repair Ecto-1.
Throughout the film, Trevor, his sister Phoebe, and their friend Podcast head out on a ghost-hunting adventure with the iconic Ecto-1. We see the return of the evil Gozer, but the new Ghostbusters triumph.
After the dust settled and Gozer was defeated, one of the original Ghostbusters, Winston Zeddemore, returned to restore the beloved Ecto-1. The iconic vehicle was delivered to the Ghostbusters’ old fire house, ready for more wild ghost-hunting adventures.
Behind the Scenes: Fun Facts and Trivia About the Ghostbusters’ Car
- The Ecto-1 was almost a different car: Initially, the Ghostbusters were supposed to drive a 1975 Cadillac. But the 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor was chosen instead.
- The Ghostbusters car was initially envisioned to have a more ominous presence: Dan Aykroyd described the vehicle as black with purple and white strobe lights. The car was even supposed to possess supernatural abilities. Like interdimensional travel and dematerialization. But, the dark paint was changed due to concerns about nighttime filming.
- The smoke rising from Ecto-1 in Ghostbusters II was real: The scenes depicting the car backfiring and emitting smoke were not special effects but a result of poor maintenance. This caused a major traffic jam on the Brooklyn Bridge, which the production had to pay some hefty fines.
- The car wasn’t as fast as it appeared: The footage of the car was played at a higher speed to create the illusion of speed. The Ecto-1 had a powerful 6.3-litre V8 engine, but its hefty curb weight of three tons made it challenging to handle. And it was incapable of a quick speed in reality.
- The sight of the iconic Ghostbuster’s car caused accidents: While driving the Ecto-1 during film promotions in New York City, some motorists looking at the caddy lost control. They caused minor collisions with other nearby cars.
- A dedicated fan movement revived the Ecto-1: The original Ecto-1 was left to ruin on Universal Studios backlot. It upset many fans of the franchise. These passionate fans signed a petition for ownership of the car. And they successfully restored it to its former glory.
Where is the Ghostbusters car today?
Sony Pictures owns the original Ecto-1 prop car from the first film. But there are multiple versions created for the franchise.
You can catch a glimpse of a supposed screen-used 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor. But you must plan a visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
How much is the Ghostbusters car worth?
The original 1959 Cadillac Ecto-1 has yet to be put up for sale. However, the value of near-perfect replicas can reach impressive heights. In fact, a perfectly crafted replica Ectomobile was sold at the 2021 Barrett Jackson Las Vegas auction. It went for a whopping $220,000 (equivalent to around £173,000 today).