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Lifelong ‘Ghostbusters’ fan tours movie’s iconic filming locations around NYC in $125K hearse he painstakingly restored

Who you gonna call? This guy!

A New Jersey dad has spent years and a small fortune to build his own “Ghostbusters” Ecto-1 car – the perfect ride to tour the iconic Big Apple locations featured in the original movie.

Lifelong Ghostbusters fanatic Nicky Ferrara, 38, had dreamed of owning the Ecto-1 over the years but his quest for the car started rolling with an eBay find of a 1959 Cadillac Landau hearse that had been stored in a California garage for nearly 50 years.

“Ghostbusters” fan Nicky Ferrara built his own Ecto-1 car from the classic 1984 film. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post
“Ghostbusters” fan Nicky Ferrara built his own Ecto-1 car from the classic 1984 film. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post

“Honestly, when they sold this car, they didn’t even know what they had,” the licensed customs broker told The Post during a recent tour in his Ecto-1.

“My wife said, ‘if you want to buy a hearse and make it a Ghostbusters car, do it,'” Ferrara said.

Ferrara immediately clicked the “buy it now” button, shelling out a cool $55,000 for the vintage hearse — he said it still reeked of formaldehyde when it rolled into the driveway of his Essex County home in 2014. All told he’s spent about $125,000 on the attention-grabbing vehicle.

He then embarked on the ultimate scavenger hunt, contacting scrap yards and garages from California to Toronto and across the Midwest in search of hard-to-find parts.

“I’m calling junk yards in the Midwest asking, ‘do you have this piece? Do you have that piece?'”

Ferrara made his replica out of a 1959 Cadillac Landau hearse that he bought on eBay. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post
Ferrara made his replica out of a 1959 Cadillac Landau hearse that he bought on eBay. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post

His quest for a perfectly screen-accurate Ecto-1 even brought him to Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California to get a closer look at the original car used in the film, which was displayed on the lot at the time.

“I watched the movie a gazillion times to piece together the car but I wanted to get the exact measurements for the roof rack,” Ferrara said.

Armed with a selfie stick and tape measure, Ferrara snapped pictures of the car’s roof so he could accurately reproduce every detail.

The New Jersey dad spent a total of $125,000 on the car. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post
The New Jersey dad spent a total of $125,000 on the car. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post

Using a motley assortment of bits and bobs — including brackets and lights from a 1980s police cruiser and a siren from a 1960s fire engine — Ferrara successfully Frankensteined his Landau into a screen-realistic, road-ready version of the Ecto-1.

He says his kids Nicky, 5, and Domenica, 3, think “having this car is normal life, like, ‘oh, everyone has a Ghostbusters car.'”

Ferrara estimates there are a small handful of comparable Ecto-1 replicas out there, but says “all the other owners keep it in a showroom or museum — they really don’t take it out like me.”‘

The car has appeared at promotional and private events, on city tours — and Ferrara says he even uses the car as a “daily driver,” taking it to run errands, though he admits it’s not the most reliable ride on the road.

Ferrara even visited the real Ecto-1 at Sony Pictures Studio to get the details right. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post
Ferrara even visited the real Ecto-1 at Sony Pictures Studio to get the details right. Stefan Jeremiah for New York Post

“You’re constantly checking fluids, tweaking with the brakes and the brake lines, it’s a labor of love,” Ferrara says.

“Every time you start it up, you hold your breath a bit.”

With Ferrara’s investment and attention to detail, the car has been appraised for $300,000, he said.

He’s since put the car to work, taking fans of the franchise on spook-tacular tours around Manhattan to spotlight some of the movie’s best-known filming locations.

Stops include the New York Public Library, Tavern on the Green, and the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, which the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man famously stepped on in the movie.

Ferrara driving his Ecto-1 in New York City. Courtesy of Matt Daniels
Ferrara driving his Ecto-1 in New York City. Courtesy of Matt Daniels

Of course, no Ghostbusters-themed tour would be complete without a stop at FDNY Hook & Ladder Company 8 in Tribeca, home of Ghostbusters headquarters in the film.

Ferrara even keeps the car stocked with essential Ghostbusters equipment like proton packs and ghost traps for fans to pose with outside the firehouse.

A private tour in Ferrara’s Ecto-1 runs $850 for two people plus $100 per extra guest, or $275 per guest for a public tour where riders are paired with other people.

Ferrara says he has an understanding with the Ghostbusters rightsholder Sony Pictures that enables him to run his business without fear of a copyright suit.

The Ecto-1 parked at the FDNY Hook & Ladder Company 8 in Tribeca. Michael Nagle
The Ecto-1 parked at the FDNY Hook & Ladder Company 8 in Tribeca. Michael Nagle

He even did a promotion with the company for the latest release in the series, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” in exchange for red-carpet tickets to the film’s premiere for his mechanic and promoter.

“I was hesitant to do ghost tours, but ever since Sony relaunched the brand with the female reboot, they’ve been more encompassing of the fan base,” Ferrara said.

“I floated the idea of tours with Sony and they’re like, ‘we’re good, that’s fine’ it just can’t be in any short films or movies.”

Whenever Ferrara rolls his Ecto-1 into town, people take notice.

A “Ghostbusters” fan checking out the replica car. Michael Nagle
A “Ghostbusters” fan checking out the replica car. Michael Nagle

The Post took a ride with Ferrara on a preview run of the latest iteration of his ghost tour, set to launch later this year. To say the car turns heads is a bit of an understatement.

“You feel like a celebrity just driving it, to see the way people react is just incredible,” he said, clearly relishing the moment.

“I love driving this car. It’s so much fun. And as we drive, if you look at the people’s faces, they lose their sh–t.”

Just as he promised, pedestrians of all stripes stopped what they were doing to gawk as the car rolled by.

A traffic cop in Midtown stopped writing a parking ticket to belt out a “Ghost-bus-ters!” to the tune of the movie’s theme song by Ray Parker Jr. upon seeing the hearse.

Cops especially seem to love the Ecto-1, Ferrara said, and regularly egg him on to fire up the lights and sirens, even though they’re “technically illegal” to have on a civilian vehicle.

“They encourage it, which is really, really cool.”

A construction crew wearing reflective vests and hard hats let out a hearty “hell yeah!” as Ferrara drove by, prompting Ferrara to get on the public address system and ask “Have you guys seen any ghosts?”

New Yorkers catching a glimpse of the car flashed ear-to-ear smiles of recognition and whipped out their camera phones to snap a photo or record video.

Many people said Ghostbusters has a personal significance in their lives.

Outside of 55 Central Park West, better known as “Spook Central,” where the film’s climactic final stand-off took place, Gregory Pozamantir, 62, recalled watching a pirated VHS tape of the film as a youth in Leningrad.

Ferrara did a promotion with Sony Pictures for the new movie “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.” Michael Nagle
Ferrara did a promotion with Sony Pictures for the new movie “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.” Michael Nagle

“I saw Ghostbusters on a bootleg VHS copy, not official at all. Us kids had to find someone with a VCR player, which were very expensive back in those days,” he shared.

“It brings back a lot of memories seeing this car. I need to watch the movie again.”

Simon Calderon, 34, from Highbridge in the Bronx, was sporting a full Ghostbusters suit complete with homemade proton pack when Ferrara’s Ecto-1 unexpectedly pulled up outside the Tribeca firehouse.

“I adore this car. Some people want a Lamborghini or an Aston Martin like James Bond — give me the Ecto-1 any day of the week,” he said.

As much as he loves Ghostbusters, Ferrara said next he has plans to collect and restore a fleet of other famous movie cars for similar tours.

On his shortlist of upcoming projects include the DeLorean from “Back to the Future,” the Ford Explorer tour car from “Jurassic Park,” and a Volkswagen van from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” he plans to convert into a “mobile pizza catering truck.”

Ferrara says he thinks of himself as the car’s custodian, a role he takes seriously.

“I own the car, but it’s like the people’s car. It belongs to the fandom.”

Released in 1984 and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as the titular Ghostbusters, the film was a smash hit, grossing more than $282 million in its initial theatrical run.

It spawned a 1989 sequel, “Ghostbusters II,” but the series remained dormant for more than 25 years until 2016’s female-led reboot, also titled “Ghostbusters.”

Releases in the 2020s so far include 2021’s “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” released in March 2024.