- Genuine Ectomobiles are trading for millions and millions of rands.
- Replica versions can still cost a small fortune despite age and condition.
- Ghostbusters film resurgence leading to long term investment interest.
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Regardless of whether you're a fan of 80s cinema, you'll know and love the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters. This choice station wagon ride for the supernaturally-insightful team served them well on several missions to eradicate New York City from vicious ghouls and goblins.
The Ecto-1 is back in the spotlight this year, as the latest instalment of the Ghostbusters film franchise finally gets a global release. This movie was initially scheduled for worldwide release in July 2020, but the launch was pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The film's release was delayed further, after concerns that Q1 2021 won't be a prime time to bring audiences back to cinemas. Theatres did not show the movie publicly until October 2021.
We're back! A new generation of ghost busting fans
Ghostbusters hit cinemas in 1984, and it has since become a cultural phenomenon thanks to a ground-breaking blend of comedy, science fiction, horror and action. The second-biggest film of 1984, Ghostbusters, grossed more than half a billion rand in its first run and is often considered one of the first blockbusters. There was a sequel in 1989, a reboot in 2016 and now, nearly 30 years after the original, Ghostbusters: Afterlife has just been released.
As with so many memorable films, one of the stars of Ghostbusters is the car: a 1959 Cadillac, better known as Ecto-1. The vehicle has attained cult status, which means that the original prop cars used in the production of Ghostbusters have become highly prized and valuable. At the same time, a thriving market in replica Ectomobiles has sprung up.
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What is the Ectomobile or Ecto-1?
One of the tools used to promote Ghostbusters to fans beyond cinemas was Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd's car to transport their ghostbusting kit around New York, as they saved the city from supernatural beings.
It's based on a 1959 Cadillac Series 75 Commercial Chassis that coachbuilder Miller-Meteor turned into ambulances and hearses – some cars have even been known to be used as both.
The Ectomobile - Ecto-1 - is based around a Miller-Meteor Futura model which had recumbent 'passengers' loaded through its tailgate. With its big fins, long creased bonnet and spats covering the rear wheels, it borrows many of the design features from famous Caddies of the time, such as the Eldorado.
Beneath the bonnet, there's a monster 6.4-litre V8 engine for some spirited performance. And at 6.4m long, there's plenty of room for a ghoul-zapping kit inside.
Ecto-1 is very rare, and values are increasing
According to Hagerty Driver's Club, only around 25 Miller-Meteor Futuras were ever built, and at least two of those were owned by Sony and used in the Ghostbusters films. Sony bought a third for promotional purposes.
Hagerty doesn't carry the value of the 1959 Cadillac Series 75 Commercial Chassis, but the average insured value for one now is around R825 000.
The Hagerty valuations department notes that one of the cars from the film was advertised in Hemmings magazine for R2.4 million in 2007. One year later, in 2008, another of the cars, apparently made for the Universal Studios theme park in Florida, was offered on eBay for R715 000. Two years later, in 2010, possibly one of those same cars sold at an auction for R1.4 million.
Prices were clearly on the up more than a decade ago. In the intervening years, they've rocketed. Hagerty now estimates the value to be more than R7.9 million for a genuine movie car with a certified history.
Good replicas Ectomobiles are also rising in value
In 2020 a fan-created replica Ecto-1 was sold for R3.5 million. The replica car was built from a 1959 Cadillac Superior hearse and was fully drivable with its engine rebuilt in 2012.
In the UK in 2014, another replica Ecto-1 was offered on eBay for R3.7 million. However, the owner of another replica, Peter Dale, tracked his Ecto-1 down for approximately R1.5 million. "I bought it within two hours of hearing it was coming up for sale," he told Hagerty.
Looking distinctly unloved, Dale has since spent around R1.7 million restoring the car to its former glory. He bought the car at the start of the first lockdown in the UK in 2020. "It had already been converted to Ecto-1 but had then been left to sit for a few years. The engine wasn't running, and it needed to be recommissioned," he said.
He explained that these cars are so sought after, you'll now pay up to R1 million just for a Cadillac shell from the correct year.
But what's the Ecto-1 like to drive? Dale said: "Although it's a huge car, it's easy to drive. Visibility is great through all the glass, and it's got power steering and assisted brakes. Surprisingly for something so long, the turning circle is quite good. The biggest problem is that it attracts so much attention. You go to change lanes, and there's someone alongside filming on a smartphone, so you have to have your wits about you."
He added, "In the run-up to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, we've been using the car for a lot of promotional work for Sony. We were at the premiere in Leicester Square in London."
Hagerty Editor, James Mills, said the Ghostbusters star car is 'spooky': "The film made it one of the most famous movie cars ever to emerge from a props department. Despite its place in pop culture, few film fans will be aware of the values of an Ectomobile; the real-deal could be worth up to half a million dollars, and even replica examples are valuable. Owners should make sure they're insured for the correct sum, or they could be in for a nasty fright."
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is currently showing in South African cinemas.
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