Rising From The Dead: 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Ambulance

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This rather dark and foreboding looking barn holds a secret. Hidden away in there is a vehicle that could only be described as a truly iconic and recognizable classic. It has been sitting for years, and while it is an old and collectible classic, it didn’t really reach the peak of its power and recognition until 25-years after it first rolled off the production line. Now the time has come for it to return to the world at large, and to make its mark again.

For those of you who remember the 1980s, this tantalizing shot of what is hidden under the tarp should be instantly recognizable. It is the “Ecto-1” from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. Actually, the truth is that this shot is from a promotional clip for the next Ghostbusters movie, which is scheduled for release in 2020.  You see, even Hollywood is eagerly embracing the Barn Finds culture. While it isn’t mentioned in the clip, it does appear that Ecto-1 is set to emerge as one of the stars of the movie. You can find the teaser clip for the movie in this YouTube video.

The Ecto-1 was introduced to us in the 1984 movie Ghostbusters, and in that, we saw two cars. The original black car that featured in the early part of the movie was not owned by Sony Pictures but was leased by the studio. However, it was later purchased by the studio, rebuilt as a replica of the Ecto-1 by none other than George Barris, and was used for touring and promotional purposes. The actual Ecto-1 from the original Ghostbusters movie was then brought out of retirement for the 1989 sequel, but due to ongoing reliability issues, the studio purchased a third car, converted it to Ecto-1 specifications, and that is the car that was seen during the majority of Ghostbusters II (known as Ecto-1A).

Following completion of Ghostbusters II, both cars were consigned to the Sony Pictures back-lot, where they sat for years, falling into a severe state of decay. It was only in 2013, following ongoing pressure from fans, that Sony relented, and both cars were sent to Cinema Vehicle Services, the company that originally built the cars, for restoration. Sadly, Ecto-1A was deemed to be beyond repair and has been returned to the Sony back-lot to continue to rot away. However, the original Ecto-1 was restored. This was a major undertaking, as the vehicle was badly rotted due to exposure to the elements, which allowed water to stand inside the car. You can find a full story detailing the restoration of the original Ecto-1 in this YouTube video.

So there you have it. The Barn Finds culture is permeating so many aspects of our lives that even Hollywood is getting in on the act.

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  1. Dave

    I remember seeing the film with my wife, and when Dan Ackroyd begins ticking off the list of things that are wrong with the car she leaned over and whispered “Sounds like one of yours”. I whispered back “And your point is…?”

    Like 20
  2. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    In our desert town here in Nevada before EMT’s were around during the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s we had an honest-to-goodness ambulance service (“Aids Ambulance”-REALLY) with one Caddy very much like this before conversion…
    Oddly, the owner/driver crashed into a building as he died of a heart attack rolling to a call…

    Like 7
  3. Rob Rose

    Well this sucks. 1st B/F limits my viewing to x number of views a week(not a member) then I waste 1 of my views expecting to see a cool caddy that I will never be able to afford but in my mind I will have bought many times over,only to see nothing but Ecto 1. With the world the way it is and all the infighting in politics, B/F was one of the few free things that brought me joy daily. Please remove the restrictions B/F and give us this little bit of daily joy.

    Like 23
    • Dovi65

      Couldn’t agree more! This bit of “click bait” is beneath the standards I’ve come to expect from BF. A movie trailer?? REALLY?? I thought this site was about barn finds that are up for sale. Save the movie reviews for IMDB, stick to what this site is about .. cars/trucks being offered for sale
      ** END RANT **

      Like 3
      • Josh MortensenStaff

        It wasn’t meant to be click bait guys. I’m a huge Ghostbusters fan, so I thought it was really cool and that Adam did a great job making it interesting.

        From day one, we’ve featured more than just cars that are for sale. We feature 17 finds a day 7 days a week. Each one is categorized by what it is – whether it’s for sale or if it’s a story – and that is displayed right above the title. With that many a day, if you don’t like one or don’t want to read a story, just skip it and read one of the other 16.

        As for this one, sorry if it wasn’t what you were expecting, that wasn’t what we were going for. Personally, I thought it was cool to see ECTO-1 in a barn, even if it is staged for a movie.

        Like 12
      • Dave

        Can I respectfully disagree with you? While the ECTO-1 in this context is not a true “barn find”, Hollywood chose the “barn find” idea to use as a stage for an upcoming film. As has done many times before, Adam did the hard work and gave us a great history lesson on a car that was an integral part of an iconic film. Those of us that grew up with TV shows like the Green Hornet, Batman, Route 66, The Munsters, and Then Came Bronson, to name a few, understand the importance and historical significance of the cars that underpinned these shows. There is now a website devoted to answering the question of “whatever happened to the car in that movie?”

        Like 4
      • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

        Hi Dave, what is the website? Thanks, Mike.

        Like 0
      • Dave

        Google.” Internet Movie Cars Database” and enjoy.

        Like 1
    • Wolfram

      @Rob Rose and Dovi65, if you give me youre email adress i had a good tip for you

      Like 1
    • Jobilizer

      How many views? I’ve never seemed to have run into the limit. I don’t think I pay anything.

      Like 1
      • CATHOUSE

        This site told me 50 views a week. When I click on #51 a big banner comes on the screen covering about 90% of the screen and it tells me I must join in order to do any more viewing at $2.50 per week. That makes it about $125 for a year. Sorry, but that it just not in my budget.

        Like 0
  4. grant

    What Rob said.

    Like 9
  5. Miguel

    The actual Ecto-1 from the original Ghostbusters movie was then brought out of retirement for the 1989 sequel, but due to ongoing reliability issues, the studio purchased a third car, converted it to Ecto-1 specifications, and that is the car that was seen during the majority of Ghostbusters II (known as Ecto-1A)

    This part interests me because a friend of mine was contacted when they were going to do the second movie and asked him for a 1959 Miller Combination limo style.

    He knew where one was and he made a call to the owner and made an offer. He made a second call to the studio, doubled the price and told them they had to go get it. They agreed.

    That car was used for the second movie. I didn’t know they wanted to use the original car as that one had been doing promotional work for a long time.

    I am not sure if they are going to forget the women’s version even exists, or if they are going to incorporate them into the new movie.

    I vote for forgetting they exist.

    Like 8
    • Adam ClarkeAuthor

      Thanks so much for that Miguel. The story of the Ecto-1 gets quite convoluted, and it did take some research to get everything straight. Dan Ackroyd was very specific on the vehicle that he wanted, and that was a ’59 Cadillac ambulance. The first one that you see in the original movie(the black car) was originally leased. It was eventually bought by Sony and converted into a promotional vehicle. The original Ecto-1 did go on promotional duty for a while but was retired and dumped at the back of the Sony studio. The converted black car was then used for promotional work for both Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II.

      When the producers went to make Ghostbusters II, the original Ecto-1 had deteriorated, and there was major mechanical work required, so they bought a third car, which is probably the one that you’re referring to. As a matter of interest, the studio made the decision to pull the original engine and transmission from that car and fitted it with a small block Chevrolet engine in a bid to make it more reliable. After shooting was complete, that car was also dumped at the back of the studio, and it remains there to this day.

      Like 5
      • Dave

        Adam, a trip to places like Universal Orlando or Disneyworld will be sad if you like to see movie cars. When I went to both 20 years ago the cars on display looked horrid, not at all like you might expect. Even Mel’s Diner looked as though it predated the rest of the park. It takes genuine enthusiasts to jump through the hoops to save these cars. I tried to save a 7 litre Ford used in Mindhunter but the studio never returned my inquiries.

        Like 2
  6. Mountainwoodie

    On a barely related sidenote, some guy at my gym has am E30 BMW…maybe ’87-89, white, decked out like the Ghostbusters Caddy ; why I dont know. I’ll have to grab a pix.

    Like 5
  7. Jim Wildasin

    My wife and I saw Ghostbuster’s at the drive-in in Cross Keys, Pa. in my 75 Datsun B210 hatchback.
    The good ol’ day

    Like 2
  8. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Great opening photo Adam! Hey Mountainwoodie, I will be looking forward to seeing the Bimmer Ghostbusters rig.

    Like 3
  9. Mark

    Regardless of what one thinks of the movie (or any other movie) it’s sad to see classic cars turned into ridiculous piles of gadgets. Not so much for the making of the movie, but due to the fact that whatever number remains of a particular model, people are going to gobble them up just to make clones.

    Like 4
  10. John TaggartMember

    In Ormond Beach FL there is a very decent reproduction of one of these owned by a local resident there is also a black ford police car both being usually parked in a local strip mall parking lot they look pretty neat and a good job was done making over the replicas

    Like 0
  11. Little_Cars Alexander

    Miquel beat me to it! Is the studio going to claim amnesia that the female version of Ghostbusters was ever made? I never saw it, but it seems to have lingered forever in my local RedBox machine at the grocery store. Seems odd they would give the 2020 version a numeral 3 when three was the female version. I love Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and the others from SNL that fleshed out the cast. Oh, and I appreciate the refresher about the Ecto 1 but like others have said I was really hoping for an unmolested Miller-Meteor ambulance to be in that barn for 50 years.

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      Alexander, technically the women’s version was a reboot, not a continuation of the original two movies, so it would not have been number 3.

      Like 1
  12. Stevie G

    A little bit of information for anyone interested, the original ECTO1 was a hearse. It was found in a BARN (coincidence?) behind the funeral home that purchased it new. My old friend Bob the hearse dealer in Milwaukee bought it from the funeral home. He got a phone call from a guy named Paul (now deceased) who lived in Los Angeles & somehow was connected to movie studios & leased -n- sold a lot of cars to them. That hearse was by then owned by Bob but still hiding in that barn. He sold the car to Paul & the rest is history.
    On a different note, I was working with Bob for a while. He sold the dealership to a good friend of mine, a guy named Walter. Bob stayed on as an employee. Bob calls me one day. He asked me if I wanted to sell my winter beater, a black 1988 Cadillac hearse, I don’t recall the coach builder. I said I would sell it but since it was early February the price better be good since there was still winter left. He made a phone call to his friend Paul in the city af angels, Paul made a VERY generous offer. That car was later seen in Terminator 3 getting shot up. I really miss working at the hearse dealership!

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      Stevie, what was your friends, Bob, last name? Was it Hedges?

      Paul, was a very good friend of mine. I spent a lot of time with him for a couple of years and he sold me my first hearse.

      I think we ran in the same circles.

      Like 1
  13. Stevie G

    Hey Miguel, yup…Robert Hedges. He seems to be as legendary in the hearse world as Mr. Nix was. I liked Paul. He was a good guy. Many conversations over the phone. I wish I had met him before his health took him away. It sounds like we know at least one or two of the same people. It is a small world, isn’t it?

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      Yes Stevie, a very small world, but not really in the hearse world.

      Bob would stay at Paul’s house in Arleta when he was in California so I also knew him personally.

      Bob would sell a new car to a funeral home and take their trade and bring it to Paul in california. He brought some really nice cars.

      Bob would also bring a few people to stay with him, and if you worked for him you know what he likes in the way of company.

      Anyway, I blame Paul for my addiction to hearses and all professional cars. They fascinate me.

      Like 1
  14. Stevie G

    Yeah Miguel, I was invited with Bob a few times bar-hopping in Milwaukee. His taste in company was….eclectic lol. I met some really cool people through him. Michael Jackson’s cousin lives about a mile away from me. Her Dad & Joe Jackson were brothers, I guess. I know Michael has family around here. In grade school I had a teacher who was Michaels aunt. I also knew an inner city funeral director who buried Oprah Winfrey’s sister when she died many years ago. This funeral director had a contract with Milwaukee county coroners office. It was eventually discovered he didn’t have a funeral directors license. He is now serving time away at “the spa” lol. Yup, I met some real characters through Bob. When are you heading back to the states next? I would love to meet with ya over a couple beers & share some “Hedges” stories. Paul really was a class act! I too am a hearseophile!

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      Stevie, I won’t be going back any time soon. I have a family here and I am opening up some businesses.

      Bob had one of his proteges at Pauls house one time. She was a nice person and we decided, as friends, to go see a movie together. We went to see “Back To The Future” when if first came out. We had a great conversation after that.

      That really dated me, didn’t it?

      Like 1
  15. Stevie G

    Lol a little. I plan on going to Arizona some time soon, actually considering moving there. Maybe when I get down that way we can talk about meeting somewhere near the border. Good luck with your new ventures! I will tell Bob you say hi. I haven’t talked to him for a couple months. I should probably check in with him.

    Like 1
  16. Random Joe

    Bob Hedges and I would regularly go out for Mexican food in Milwaukee. He’d drink a pitcher of margaritas by himself and always had a stogie hanging out of his mouth.

    He’d walk up to women in the bar and hand them his business card, then dump $100 in the poker machine.

    A true character.

    Like 0

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