Long story. Bear with me.
Back in 2005 at a midnight showing of Ghostbusters, I started joking to my friend Will about how funny it would be to run out of a supposedly-haunted place like the Stanley Hotel or some large building in ghostbuster uniforms, carrying smoking ghost traps, handing the manager a bill for $5000, and disappearing before anyone could ask any questions. The goal would be to record the whole thing and put it on the internet. He laughed and said he knew how to build proton packs. I owned a white Subaru Outback at the time and I told him that if he built the packs, I'd build us an Ecto-1.
Flash forward nearly a year.
My friends Austin and Will and I are talking about doing something spectacular for Halloween. We lived in a small college town with a young and progressive population that was usually very supportive of creative stunts and the like. After much debate we decided to go with the Ghostbusters prank idea. In June of 2006 I start researching lightbar laws, construction costs, and ways to convert my car temporarily, with nothing permanent.
By September 22 I had completed the first iteration of my Ectomobile. It was a very simple and crude construction, but it had working lights and siren from the movie, as well as the ability to blast the theme song from the rack. In retrospect it was very poorly-built and was on a shoddy car, but for a couple of college guys and a temporary prank, it did it's job very well.
Anyway, we roll out the newly-christened ECTO-1K (for Ecto-1...kinda) and people start going crazy
. Within days, it's on the cover of the local newspaper, radio djs were trying to find out who we are, and the general public thought we were real ghostbusters. It was ridiculously popular and enjoyed wherever it went. A few days before Halloween the car is rear-ended by a semi truck, totalling it. BAM. We didn't know what to do until suddenly donations started flowing into our myspace page, and radio shows are encouraging people to call in and help keep the "Fort Collins Ghostbusters" on the roads. Shockingly, they raised enough money to pay for new vinyl and electronics. With the insurance money I bought a 2003 Outback, and we swapped the equipment to the new car. From there the popularity of car took off into the realm of the surreal. In 2007 I took a break from the Ghostbusters thing and branched back out by building a Jurassic Park Jeep, which you can read about here
Through the winter I got back to doing stuff with the Ecto. Most notably, the car won the Fox News "Colorado's Favorite Car" contest. It spent a week at the Denver Auto Show, which was a pretty awesome experience. The loading line-up was hilarious; Lamborghini, Lamborghini, Porshe, Aston Martin, Aston Martin, shitty 2003 Subaru, Lamborghini... well I thought it was funny.
This also provided me with an exhibitor pass which kept me from being thrown out for things like this.
After that we scored an article in the national Subaru magazine, and then another full-page spread in the official British
Subaru magazine. World-famous at this point, I guess.
Click above for big.
Then we got the real kicker. I received a letter from Sony Home Entertainment. I'd been using the Ghostbusters logo without permission, but I had not actually profited from the car in any way other than nerd XP, why the heck would the be messaging me? Turns out they wanted video of the Ecto for the Ghostbusters 25th Anniversary Special Edition Blu-ray! I obliged, but figured it was all too good to be true. A year later and now you can see my car on the Ecto-1 Restored video in the special features!
So, finally, the story of the Ecto Magnum, or as we call it; the Ecto-2K!
In January of 2009, my buddies and I are debating what to do with the Outback Ecto. The wood roof box has fallen into disrepair, and we now have so many people in our group that piling into the car is becoming uncomfortable. 2009 marked the 25th anniversary of the original movie, and it had occured to us that now might be the time to take the car across the states and hit some conventions. At any rate, the XBox game was coming out and there would be release parties and crap that we could go to. Ever since the Magnum rolled out, movie replica fans have been abuzz about the conversion of one into a "modern-day" ecto. For a long time, the community regarded the Magnum to be THE choice for a modern conversion. I went with a Subaru because it's what I had and frankly, had I a black corvette or different car during that one Halloween season, I may just as well have ended up driving around a weird Batmobile conversion.
So, with a new job working for Apple, Inc. from home, I went out on a limb and found a 2008 SXT. The car was found in Arizona, and we had it shipped up in March. I took a few weeks to consider what I was undertaking, and construction officially began in May.
And so it began.
A good friend of mine who happened to be an art student drew this up for inspiration.
But I wanted to aim for something closer to this.
Things started with an ABS box, which would resist the elements far better than the previous wooden boxes.
Followed by a steel frame.
Followed by vinyl.
Then four marine speakers and all the little "equipment" greelies on top.
And before you knew it, we were ready for launch on July 4, 2009!
test the waters, and to show off the car to thousands of other nerds, we decided to road trip to Comic Con in San Diego.
The Ecto survived 3,000 mile trip perfectly, and we even got The Horns for CHiPs!
The rest of the summer was marked by trips to local conventions and having the car on display at an outdoor screening of the movie at Red Rocks, where we greeted 14,000 people with lights and sound. We also got the opportunity to meet up with the other movie car builders in the area and take some great pictures.
Some pictures from September.
ONWARD TO JEEPDOM!
In June I started searching ebay, craigslist, cars.com, and many other sites for 1990s-era jeep Wrangler. I find a white 1990 for about $4000.
I needed to turn this:
All I had to do was swap out the rollcage for the right shape, bolt on the correct side steps, replace the wheels, seats, and repaint it.
In early July we start stripping the paint, pulling the Jeep apart, and prepping it to be repainted.
We eventually took it all the way down to bare metal. I am guessing that one of the previous owners had rolled the jeep because there was extensive body damage to both sides, both rear corners, and the original color of the drivers door was actually red. We had to pull out all the bad body work and re-bondo everything.
One dilemma I encountered that proved to be very troubling was the color of the Jeep. At the time, I only had the DVD and several production photos to work with. Further research brought up the IoA Jeep, which appeared to be painted FAR too brown to have been the original paint from the film. Using the first Jeep scene as a reference, I found that I would have to go with either gray or a slight champagne color. Not wanting the car to come out looking like crap, I opted for a semi-gloss gray that would seem to change depending on the light. I am very happy with the result, given the circumstances involved. If I could repaint it, would I? Sure, probably. But for now it's a sharp gray that isn't too light and isn't too shiny. And on a nice cloudy day it looks just like the pair of Jeeps that climbed that hill on Isla Nublar.
Masking for the stripes...
Replaced the windshield, pulled out all the carpet and rhino-coated the entire interior, that way I can just hose it out whenever I want.
Refinished the front bumper and attached the corner horns.
Restored and painted the side mirrors.
Replaced every light, lense, hinge, bolt, grill, and rubber seal on the Jeep.
Found a rollcage at a Denver junkyard that would fit.
Found sidesteps at the same junkyard
Sold off the old tires and rims, and replaced them with stock wheels and brand-new BF Goodrich tires.
Mounted spare tire and restored rear bumper and undercarriage.
Ordered graphics... lots of graphics!
Installed foglights, and took an ironic picture!
Got seats from a 1992 Sahara and installed them.
Mounted rollcage and cb antenna.
Around this time I started scrambling to have the Jeep ready to be on display at the Nan Desu Kan convention in Denver. I was working on making a set of props to go with the Jeep, a makeshift pelican case and a weapons/survival kit like the one used in the movie. I bought an $8 gun case from wal-mart and filled it with deactivated grenades, signal flares, and a flashlight.
I had a large InGen logo made and stuck on the gun case, and I also had a set of these made up, one of which ended up on the windshield as sort of an easter egg.
On the day of the con, Shauna and Ben helped me mount the fender flares. I replaced the sun visors as well, now featuring InGen embelms. The jeep was finally 'complete'! Granted, I still had to attach the side steps, the windshield lightbar, and the front winch.
On the way to the con I picked up my license plates from ActionSigns and a set of windshield wiper arms from Mike at NAPA. Upon arriving in Denver, I talked to the executive director of the convention and the head of security for the DTC Marriott. They gave me permission to put the jeep up on the grass and let me park the Ecto in front of the main entrance. Both cars were incredibly popular!
My crown jewel of the con, getting the cars in a picture with this guy!
Since then there have been many many more little adventures with this Jeep...
In Spring of 2009, I one again picked up the sander and drill to finish the work I began. I bought one lightbar for use with off-road lights, and made one to be accurate to how Jeep 18 looked. I also got around to getting the side steps painted.
I decided to use the second lightbar for convention and wheeling season. I've slowly found that I dislike the height of the lightbar off the windshield, and I REALLY don't care for the awful whistling sound that comes from the bar and lights while driving over 50mph. I'll be painting and mounting the light-less bar this summer. Finally got around to installing the winch. I bought it before the HD version of the movie was created, and before the correct model was found by Cyrix. I opted to keep it, regarding it as one of those little details that no one but us builders and fanatics could ever grip about not being exactly correct.
You can get super high-resolution pictures of my Jeep here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/7245611@N04/sets/72157618143299472/