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The Ghostbusters Ecto-1 & Other Movie Wheels We Want to Take for a Spin
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After moving to their grandfather’s abandoned farmhouse in Oklahoma, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor Spengler (Finn Wolfhard) begin to suspect their family has a connection to some legendary paranormal pioneers of the past. One of their biggest clues? The rusty and abandoned vehicle they find covered up in the barn.

True Ghostbusters fans will recognize it as the Ecto-1. It’s the 1959 Cadillac combination ambulance/hearse that Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) bought—and then outfitted with proton packs and other ghostbusting gadgets—in the 1984 original film. It’s certainly collected some dust since then but, as we saw in the Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer, it still seems to be in working order.

Oblong, conspicuous and very well-branded, the Ectomobile is one of the most recognizable sets of cinematic wheels. As we speed toward the release of the newest Ghostbusters film, we’re thinking of a few more quirky movie cars we wish we had the keys to.


Ghostbusters: Afterlife is now playing in theaters everywhere.

1
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 
1968
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Named for the unusual sound of its engine, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is more than a mode of transportation. The avant-garde smart car—engineered by eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) in the film and by Oscar-winning, James Bond set designer Ken Adam in real life—can drive, float and fly, yes. But it’s also anthropomorphic—a “phantasmagorical” and “fine four-fendered” friend that continually intervenes to save the Potts family from peril. Adapted from an Ian Fleming novel and produced by longtime Bond filmmaker Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, this children’s musical is basically a daring, dangerous and car-centric 007 romp in disguise.

2
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
2002
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There’s nothing too fancy about the Weasleys’ Ford Anglia—at least when it has all four wheels on the ground. But it’s quite the attention-grabber when it becomes Ron and Harry’s plan B mode of transport to Hogwarts and takes flight over London. (The car’s Invisibility Booster sputters out in flight and, as Professor Snape coldly scolds the duo, is seen by “no less than seven Muggles.”) After a very close call with the Hogwarts Express as it barreled at top speed through the countryside, and another unfortunate run-in with the Whomping Willow, we hope it’s found peace deep in the Forbidden Forest.

3
Mad Max: Fury Road 
2015
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There’s a lot of gasoline guzzled in this infinitely epic chase film, so it’s hard to pick just one set of wheels to admire. But there’s something special about Immortan Joe’s Gigahorse, the custom monster car with a body built from not one, but two 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Villes.

If the Gigahorse feels extra, it’s on purpose. “In a world where there’s barely one of anything, to show you had power, he’s the man who’s got two of everything,” Oscar-winning production designer Colin Gibson has said of the emperor’s excess.

And the design crew followed suit: The Gigahorse isn’t just for show. The beast is actually fueled by two V8 engines Frankensteined together, so—as with almost everything in George Miller’s stunts spectacular—what you see onscreen is the real thing.

4
Little Miss Sunshine 
2006
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Sure, this yellow road-trip van has a very loud and faulty horn. And okay, fine—you have to get it rolling manually at 20 miles per hour before you can attempt to get it in gear … (Greg Kinnear once said that the indie drama is the most dangerous movie he’s ever made.)

But what makes this Volkswagen particularly quirky isn’t its features but rather the people who pile into it. The Hoover family is a very motley crew, and as any of us who’ve road-tripped with family know, one vehicle is not a lot of space for six people. But they’re determined to get 7-year-old Olive to Redondo Beach for her beauty pageant debut, and it’s this van that, quite miraculously, helps them get there—even if in the nick of time and not entirely in one piece.

5
Back to the Future 
1985
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And we’d be seriously remiss if we didn’t include the DMC DeLorean that Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) outfits as a time-traveling machine in Back to the Future. A time-traveling machine not without a few quirks … like the very specific threshold of exactly 1.21 gigawatts of power and 88 mph of speed required to enable time travel, and a flux capacitor that tends to malfunction when it’s most inconvenient. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) knows this all too well.

© 2021 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences