You have one gallon of gas in your tank, the gas pump is in your hand, and you see a Ghostbusters Ecto-1 roll by. What do you do?
You pray you can catch it before you run out of gas and you hit the road.
At least, that’s what we did.
We were curious. As car enthusiasts, we have a deep appreciation for vehicles of all sizes, from diecast to 1:1 scale. Plus, how often do you see an Ecto-1 drive by? We wanted pictures. More than that, we wanted to know the owner’s story.
Seven miles later, we had the pleasure of meeting Loren Baldwin, extreme car enthusiast and owner of the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 we had been chasing.
Loren didn’t seem alarmed by strangers jumping out of their car and running up to his window—which is what we did, when he finally got held up at an intersection. On the contrary, he graciously allowed us to snap some photos of his custom vehicle. When other drivers began pulling over to check out the Ecto-1, we realized we’d better let Loren go. Before he took off, we talked him into meeting up with us again.
When we next saw Loren, he wasn’t driving the Ecto-1. Instead, he cruised up in an unmarked Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Despite our puzzled expressions, Loren offered no explanation. Instead, he just smiled. Was he a law enforcement officer? Then again, how much could we assume, based upon what vehicle he was driving? When we first met him, we didn’t ask if he was a Ghostbuster—so we didn’t ask him if he was a police officer, either. Instead, with this man, we quickly learned to expect the unexpected. After a brief greeting, we sat down and began firing our questions at him, starting with why he had an Ecto-1 in the first place.
Loren described his Ecto-1 as being the product of a perfect marriage: car enthusiast meets movie fan. He further explained that he was just one of many serious Ghostbusters fans throughout the state. He had grown up watching the Ghostbusters cartoon, and he still remembered the first time he saw the Ghostbusters movie—the Ecto’s lights fascinated him. “I think that’s why I wanted to be a policeman for a long time,” he said. “Not justice. Not authority. It was the lights!”
(By the way, despite Loren’s early desire to enter law enforcement and his pulling up in what could have been an unmarked squad car, as it turned out, that car was only one more of Loren’s specialty vehicles.)
As for his Ecto-1, the vehicle was originally entered into service by Potts Funeral Home in Independence, KS. In 1981, it was sold to a painter in Nebraska. After that, it was purchased by a gentleman in Kokomo, IN. Seventeen years later, in 2009, Loren purchased it. Within three months, Loren transformed the vehicle from a bare sheet metal shell to a completed rolling chassis, including adding a roof rack he fabricated himself. Within six months, the original 390 engine was rebuilt and the interior was completed. As for the detailed gadgets required to accurately replicate the Ecto-1, Loren found much of what he needed on the internet.
Despite its somber beginnings, these days, the Ecto-1 serves as a source of delight. In addition to volunteering for charity events, Loren also shares his custom creation at conventions and cruise-ins. Even though the Ghostbusters car is a gas guzzler, he pays for all his own expenses, no matter where he’s asked to go. This is because of Sony Pictures’ ownership of the Ghostbusters franchise and, as of this writing, Loren is not yet a licensee.
Loren’s grown accustomed to being honked at and photographed. Even so, it’s easy to tell that it’s not notoriety that drives his love for unique vehicles. Instead, it’s his passion for restoring cars that motivates him—which is an interest he shares with his father. In fact, that passion just might be more hereditary than shared. “I blame my dad,” he said, smiling. “He was a drag racer in the 60s and 70s. It’s his fault I have so many cars.”
Since childhood, Loren’s dad told him car stories about his beloved ’69 Mercury Cougar Eliminator 428 Super CobraJet. Purchased brand new in 1969, his dad would go on to sell the car three years later—which was a decision he came to regret. Having heard so much about his dad’s Cougar Eliminator over the years, one day, Loren decided to see if he could track down that car.
In 2006, thanks to superior detective work by a vintage Ford restoration company, Loren was put in contact with the current owner of his dad’s Cougar Eliminator. Although their meeting was brief and only by telephone, Loren’s dad got to talk to the Eliminator’s owner, too. While the connection was an unexpected thrill, Loren’s dad had no idea that his son was planning something far more exciting. About one year later, Loren was able to purchase the Cougar Eliminator and bring it back home to his dad. “I think he almost cried when I told him he was getting the car back,” Loren said. At present, he and his father have teamed up to perform the restoration. (To read the full story and check out the restoration progress, click here).
When asked what his dream car is, Loren grinned and said, “I own them.”
And by “them,” he means all 17 of them.
In addition to his Ghostbusters Ecto-1, which is a 1959 Miller Meteor Limousine Duplex, his 2000 Police Interceptor, and the Cougar Eliminator he shares with his dad, Loren’s current fleet includes a ’64 Ford Galaxie 500 XL, a ’64 Volkswagen Kharmann Ghia, a ’65 Ford Galaxie 500, a ’67 Miller Meteor Duplex with removable Landau panels, a ’68 Cadillac Calais, a ’69 Mercury Cougar (yes, another Cougar!), a ’71 Volkswagen Squareback, a ’75 Volkswagen Beetle, a ’96 Chevy Impala SS, a 2003 Mustang Cobra Convertible, a 2003 Mercury Marauder, a 2004 Corvette, a 2012 Ford Fusion Sport, and a 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Station Wagon.
As is the case with many car enthusiasts, Loren appreciates vehicles of all scales. He has a small diecast collection, ranging in scale from 1:64 to 1:18. Because of their greater detail, he prefers the larger scale models. Naturally, his collection includes several Ghostbusters Ectos. To Loren, Hot Wheels offers the most accurate representation of the full-scale model. As with his diecast cars, he also prefers his 1:1 vehicles loose. “I buy cars to drive them,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with making ‘em pretty, but you’ve got to drive them.”
We have to agree.
And with Loren Baldwin, it’s anybody’s guess what he’ll be driving next. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see Herbie the Love Bug or a Delorean Time machine rolling down your street sometime in the near future.
To see Loren’s Ghostbusters Ecto-1 in action, click here to check out his video.