Introduction: Ghostbusters Ecto-1
Who ya gonna call for the step by step process for building an iconic ghost busting vehicle on the cheap? Instructables!
Step 1: The Hearse
We lucked out! A friend of mine happened to own a hearse very similar to the one seen in the trailer for the upcoming 2016 blockbuster. And since it was already white, we were able to get to work right away. Our goal was to create a (relatively) movie accurate vehicle as quickly & inexpensively as possible. The final project took the two of us just a few weeks of spare time to complete and only costed a couple hundred bucks.
Step 2: Research
The most important step in creating a movie prop is to collect tons of photos and reference materials. The base vehicle used in the film was a 1984 Cadillac Hearse. (Our car wasn't an exact match, but close enough.) For the original Ghostbusters 1 & 2 movies from the 80s, the Ecto-1 was built from a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance. These cars are getting much harder to find, are way more expensive and are rarely in good condition. So if you are on a tight budget and you plan to purchase a project vehicle, your best bet (biggest bang for the buck) would be to create the replica from the 2016 film.
Step 3: Plans
The most complex part of this project is the roof rack. We used an old bed frame as the foundation, and sketched out where all of the parts would attach. We also looked online for any blue prints available.
Step 4: Roof Rack
We are fortunate to live close to a wonderful surplus store on our local college campus. It was easy to find lots of salvaged lab equipment that make up the roof top containment unit and nuclear powered accelerator for a great price. All the parts along with some pvc piping were mocked up on the bed frame before tearing down, painting and preparing to bolt on the car.
Step 5: Vinyl
The three colors used in this project are gloss black, cranberry and yellow. We picked up the 30' x 2' rolls of CC500 vinyl at a sign shop supply store for about $24 each. It took some time to apply the cranberry vinyl to the top of the white vinyl roof of the hearse, but worked out really well. After taking some measurements, the next step was to print patterns for the "no ghost" logo, cut out the black and cranberry layers with an X-Acto knife and carefully apply them to the doors. We also applied vinyl to the hub caps and some of the parts for the roof rack.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
All the little details really add the magic to the project. We wired up the lights, siren and smoke machine along with a working air compressor on the roof (in case we get a flat). The original movie car features a large yellow beacon front and center, but we already owned and orange one,.. and nobody notices the difference anyway. A good friend created the hood ornament on his 3D printer, and we ordered the license plate for the front and caution sign for the rear door online.
Step 7: “If There's Somethin' Weird in the Neighborhood...”
The final project turned out amazing, and people go crazy when they see it on the road. We're happy to make this Ecto-1 available for appearances throughout the state of Michigan in support of various community events and charity fundraisers. If you have any questions about the build, please let me know. And as always,.. "We’re ready to believe you."
Step 8: Updates
Since building the Ecto-1, I’ve also helped create five more Ghostbuster vehicles for friends with a couple more projects on deck. It goes to show that you can use any kind of car to express your creativity and hit the road to catch some ghosts.
Participated in the