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When The Right Car Is Wrong... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Colin Brassington (aka Brash)   
Monday, 05 September 2016 00:00

I feel like I need to talk about the new Ghostbusters movie. Now before we go too much further, I am not discussing the movie at all. Just the choice of hero car.  


One of the many things that fans of the original Ghostbusters movies are carrying on about is the change of the team's vehicle. You see the 1984 movie had the crazy and awesome 1959 Cadillac Futura ambulance, while the 2016 remake has a 1984 Cadillac Brougham ambulance.

But let's think about that for a moment. In 1984 the 59 Cadillac was a relic. It was a 25-year-old piece of crap that was cheap and plentiful. The crazy 50s styling cues - tons of chrome (imperial tons, cause USA) and massive tail fins to be specific made the car a memorable choice for the role. Even non car people totally relate to it and see the cool side of it. Non car people will see a late 50s Caddy and say things like ‘that’s like the Ghostbusters’ car!’ such is the level of stardom that this car attained for itself; much in the same way that the Aston Martin DB5 will forever be remembered as James Bond’s car.

But the choice of the 59 Caddy also works for its intended purpose in the movie, it was cheap and able to carry lots of things. This is important to me because there's nothing I hate more than when sponsorship...umm…product placement dictates a car in a movie that doesn't fit the characters. University student driving a Toyota Prius? Struggling middle class parents with a brand new Volkswagen Jetta? A family that always seem to be just scraping by financially but has a $59,000 people mover and $49,000 SUV in the driveway? Again I have nothing against product placement but you need to get it right. I like watches, but don't wear a TAG or any other luxury watch because the money needs to be spent in other places; and so it would be with our example uni student. Not to mention most uni students are clever enough to see through the spin and wouldn't buy a Prius anyway, but let's not allow logic to get in the way of our movies.

Lets be honest here, the important thing about the chosen vehicle is that it’s a retired ambulance, not the fact that it’s a classic Cadillac. So the choice of a 59 Cadillac ambulance fit with the idea of a group of mates striking out on their own to bust ghosts. None of them appear flush with cash in the movie, so it was never a stretch of belief that they would have bought a cheap and nasty ambulance to carry them and their things on their ghost busting adventures.

By selecting a 1984 Cadillac ambulance for the new movie the producers have actually made quite a logical choice and kept with the idea that the 'busters would need a cheap vehicle to cart their equipment around. And just like the original, this one looks like it's one minor collision away from living out the rest of its days in the scrap yard. The fact that I would have chosen a similar vintage Ford E-series van merely isn’t relevant; and if I’m honest, nobody asked for my opinion anyway.

The thing that everyone seems to have forgotten is that in 1984 the 59 Cadillac wasn't the highly prized classic it is now. Now that they're over 50 years old, they're rare and their 50s flair is a reminder to all of just how flamboyant post-war design was, especially when we're talking about American cars. Using an 84 Caddy they have merely done the exact same thing, except come the 80s American cars had lost all but a little bit of their chrome, stylistically they largely resembled boxes. And thanks to poor build quality and reliability, they aren't highly prized by enthusiasts or automotive collectors.

XF Falcon Ambulance, call it 1986. Image from Google, claim if yours

Think of it this way: if the Ghostbusters were Australian, then the original ECTO-1 would have been a FJ or FC Holden panelvan, and in 2016 they would be driving a WB Holden or an XF Falcon van. And in the same vein, today a late 50s Holden or Ford is a highly prized piece of Australia's automotive history, while you can buy an XF panelvan for a couple hundred dollarydoos.

FC Holden Ambulance, late 50s/early 60s. Image from Google, claim if yours

Will we view the 84 Caddy the same way as we do the 59 in another 30 years? Time will tell, but I'm willing to bet no. Same as I imagine people won't be lusting after XF Falcons in another 30 years. I may be wrong – remember I own and am in the process of rebuilding a similar vintage Holden…

But as for the movie, stop complaining about the choice of vehicle. There are plenty of other things to complain about…



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