Probably one of the most famous and identifiable movie cars of all time is ECTO-1 (Ectomobile). ECTO-1 is a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura (limousine style windows) Duplex (hearse / ambulance combination) used in the 1984 film Ghostbusters and other Ghostbusters fiction.
In the movie, the vehicle is purchased by Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) for the relatively high price of $4800 in a poor state of repair. In Stantz’ own words, it needed “suspension work and shocks, brakes, brake pads, linings, steering box, transmission, rear-end, new rings, mufflers, and a little wiring…”. It first appears as a black and primered ambulance.
After the necessary refurbishing, it was used to carry the team’s ghost-capturing equipment, as well as transporting the Ghostbusters throughout New York City. Its features include a modified gurney that rolls out from the back door, holds the proton packs, and makes it easier to retrieve them.
(This gurney holds the Ghostbusters Proton Packs)
In addition to the blue emergency lighting, the ECTO-1 also received it’s own unique siren. There are several other gadgets mounted to the side and roof of the car that the movie never identifies or explains their purpose.
Some of them are:
- Muon Scrubbers
- Radio GPS Locator
- High Intensity Microphones
- EMF Scrubbers
In a later interview after ECTO-1 was restored, Dan Aykroyd (Dr. Ray Stantz) said that “Dr. Spengler (Harold Ramis) miniaturized this [equipment] for mobile purposes”.
Above is the original ECTO-1 currently parked in front of the Ghost Corps offices at the Sony lot (along with the ECTO-1 from the 2016 film Ghostbusters: Answer The Call)
Even the inside of ECTO-1 is full of electronic gadgets that aren’t ever seen in the movie.
ECTO-1 makes an appearance at the beginning of Ghostbusters II (1989). It appears to be in bad shape leaving a trail of exhaust smoke and backfiring. Later the car re-appears as a newer modified version with even more lights and gadgets. That vehicle is ECTO-1A, which I’ll feature later.
VIDEO – ECTO-1 – “WE GOT ONE!” (FIRST CALL):
In 2009 ECTO-1 was sent to Cinema Vehicle Services where it was restored for the upcoming Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Dan Aykroyd went and saw the vehicle when it was finished, and was amazed at how good it looked (see the video below). Prior to that, the car had been deteriorating next to ECTO-1A in the Universal Studios back lot (right side of photo below). ECTO-1 now can be found parked outside of the Ghost Corps offices at the Sony lot along with the ECTO-1 from the 2016 film Ghostbusters: Answer The Call.
Note: ECTO-1A was suppose to be restored at the same time, but the decision was made to finish ECTO-1, and place ECTO-1A in storage. ECTO-1A was finally brought out of storage and converted to an ECTO-1 to film Ghostbuster After Life in 2019. It will be exciting to see it back on the big screen.
VIDEO – ECTO-1 RESTORED:
EIGHT ECTO-1 FACTS:
1) ECTO-1 is a Miller-Meteor Futura Ambulance/Hearse Combination mounted on a 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Professional Chassis.
2) The Miller-Meteor production run was very limited. Only about 400 vehicles were made. It’s powered by a 320 HP 6.3L V8.
3) The original ECTO-1 started out as a gold ambulance before being converted in to ECTO-1. While filming Ghostbusters II, ECTO-1 was backfiring and spewing smoke. This was not a special effect. The car was truly in poor mechanical condition. It finally “died” on the Brooklyn Bridge. The NYPD fined the filmmakers because the Brooklyn Bridge does not have breakdown lanes, and ECTO-1 was blocking traffic.
4) Stephen Dane, credited as a ‘Hardware Consultant’, designed and oversaw the development of the original ECTO-1. He only had two weeks to come up with the Ectomobile and all the other props for the movie. His name was misspelled in the movie credits as ‘Steven Dane’.
5) Dan Aykroyd’s original ECTO-1 concept was an all black sinister looking machine with flashing white and purple strobe lights that gave it a strange, ultraviolet aura. While going through the script, the cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs pointed out that the black design would make the car difficult to see on film since part of the movie would be shot at night. As a result, the car was painted white instead.
(This is a suggestion of what a black ECTO-1 would have looked like, not an actual script rendering)
6) Sound designer Richard Beggs incorporated a modified Leopard snarl played backwards for the siren sound.
7) The black and primer Miller-Meteor ambulance seen in Ghostbusters was rented from a private owner, and never converted in to an Ectomobile.
8) Early scripts called for a 1975 Cadillac ambulance. Though by the time the final shooting script was locked in, the 1959 model was settled on.
Check out the ‘Ghostbusters ECTO-1 Photo Gallery‘ to see more photos of ECTO-1.
BUILDING AN ECTO-1:
Want to know more about the lights and equipment used to build an ECTO-1? Check out ‘Building a Ghostbusters ECTO-1‘.
ECTO-1 IS AN ICON:
The ECTO-1 is dramatically different than the black car original proposed for Ghostbusters. Stephen Dane only had two weeks to come up with the ECTO-1 for Ghostbusters. He said that he got things off the shelf that looked good at the moment, and that he made a career out of “visual bull”. Yet, a car that was thrown together in two weeks is still immediately recognized and an icon of the Ghostbusters franchise. People even still collect diecast versions of it 35+ years later.
VIDEO – STEPHEN DANE DISCUSSES THE DESIGN AND BUILD OF ECTO-1:
‘Ghostbusters Afterlife’ is the latest film in the Ghostbusters franchise. It was directed by Jason Reitman and written by Reitman and Gil Kenan. It stars Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace, and Paul Rudd, while Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts reprise their roles from the original films. It is the direct sequel to Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989) and the fourth film overall. Set thirty years after the second film, a family moves to a small town, where they discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and their grandfather’s secret legacy.
A third Ghostbusters film had been in various stages of development since Ghostbusters II in 1989. After Bill Murray refused to commit to the project, and after the death of cast member Harold Ramis in 2014, Sony instead produced a reboot (Ghostbusters: Answer The Call). After the film underperformed at the box office, Reitman began developing a direct sequel to the original films.
Ghostbusters Afterlife was scheduled for release in the United States on July 10, 2020, but was delayed to March 5, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ghostbusters Afterlife see’s the return of ECTO-1, which is interesting because ECTO-1 was replaced by ECTO-1A in Ghostbusters II. The car appears to have a more predominant role in the upcoming moving, and will feature more action scenes.
This car is actually the ECTO-1A (Ghostbusters II 1989) that has been repurposed as one of three ECTO-1 cars for the new movie. The ladder has been moved from the passenger side to the drivers side, and the rear passenger door has been converted to a suicide door to allow a gunner’s seat to swing out.