New Bedford Ghostbusters Superfan Creates His Own ‘Ecto-84′
Ethan Tripp of New Bedford got to celebrate Ghostbusters Day better than anyone else on the SouthCoast, driving around in his own version of the Ecto-1 while heading to a friend’s house to put the finishing touches on his new movie-quality proton pack.
Ghostbusters Day is celebrated on this day each year by Ghostheads – fans of the 1984 blockbuster film Ghostbusters – as it is the anniversary of it hitting movie theaters.
“The fun part is that today is also my birthday,” Tripp said. “I was born the day the movie was released: June 8, 1984.”
As Dr. Peter Venkman himself might say, call it fate, call it luck, call it karma. Tripp was destined from birth to be a Ghostbusters fan.
“Growing up, I watched The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. I probably saw the movie for the first time in 1987, when I was still a little guy. I had all the action figures,” he said. “I was a typical child of the ‘80s.”
Back in 2018, Tripp began cosplaying as a Ghostbuster, going to conventions and other places where it’s completely normal to dress up as your pop culture heroes. All he was missing was the Ecto-1 to get him there.
“At the time, I was driving a piece of junk truck, and my girlfriend lives in Mansfield, and the truck was at the point where I was afraid to drive it that far coming from New Bedford,” he said. “She said I needed to buy a new car, but I didn’t want to because the truck was paid off – but then she said, ‘If you buy a new car, you can turn it into the Ecto-1.’ I thought that was such a great idea, and things just started to fall into place.”
Tripp began to think about what cars might make for a good Ghostbusters vehicle. He said he drove by a Toyota RAV-4 one day and realized the side detail going along the doors would be perfect for the red stripe that goes down the side of the Ecto-1.
One weekend back in 2021, at the height of the post-COVID car shortage, he stopped into Toyota of Dartmouth on a whim.
“I had no intention of buying a car that day. I just wanted to go in and look around,” he said.
Then he saw it: a 2016 white RAV-4 that would make the perfect Ecto.
“That model had that side detail, while the newer ones just have flat panels,” he said. “They just happened to get that car in during a car shortage, so I thought I guess this has to happen, and I bought it.”
From there, he began acquiring the pieces needed to create what would become known as the Ecto-84, as he chronicled the process online.
“The first few parts were pretty simple. I bought an off-the-shelf roof rack at Harbor Freight in Fall River, bought the magnetic ‘no ghosts’ logos off Etsy,” Tripp said. “For the red stripe, I thought I needed to get it specially painted, but I was able to find online decals that were actually manufactured specifically for that RAV-4.”
He then enlisted the help of his friend Halliwax, a Fairhaven resident who owns a small prop business.
“He and his family were going to be in a Halloween parade as Ghostbusters, and he wanted the car to be in it, so he helped me build the more detailed stuff and get it on there,” Tripp said.
Soon, Tripp was cruising through the streets of the SouthCoast, lights flashing and the unmistakable siren sound of the Ecto-1 warning all the ghosts in the area that they were being put on notice.
There are plans to add even more gear to the Ecto-84 as well.
“I have a few more things I want to do with it,” Tripp said. “I got a vintage siren. I have a digital siren in it, but I wanted one that looks like the Ecto-1 siren, so I hunted one down. It won’t work, I’ll still use the digital siren, but it will give the appearance.”
Speaking of appearances, Tripp and his girlfriend Janice have taken part in two different Trunk or Treat events, and also rode in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day this year with the Ghostbusters of Massachusetts organization.
This Halloween, he and Janice will take part in the Dark New England events put on by New Bedford’s Harrison Ingham.
“He actually drove by my house one day and took a picture of the car and posted it to Facebook asking, ‘Who is this?’” Tripp said. “He got back to me, we were able to make introductions, and we will be there on the first of October and then definitely for the first full weekend.”
Janice said she was happy to encourage Tripp’s love of Ghostbusters and desire to build the Ecto-84.
“Absolutely. This is a passionate hobby that he has, and you’ve seen how his face will light right up when he gets to talk about it,” she said. “We saw it today. Someone walked right by, they had a darker face on, but when they saw the car, they lit right up, took a photo and gave a thumbs up. It’s a simple thing but it brings that kind of joy.”
Tripp said that’s what he loves about Ghostbusters and having the Ecto-84: you never have to grow up.
“It doesn’t matter your age. I have middle-aged men get just as excited as a 10-year-old kid,” he said. “It’s pretty universal. It doesn’t matter your age, sex, race, it’s something to kind of bring people together, and that’s pretty cool right now, when things are more often about division.”
“It turns everyone into that 10-year-old kid, even if just for a couple of minutes,” he said.
Tripp said he and Janice already have tickets to attend the FanExpo this year in Boston, and will probably attend Rhode Island Comic Con as well, and he’s considering expanding his Ghostbusters cosplay and the Ecto-84 and creating a little side business.
If you need a little Ghostbusters fun at your next event, well, who ya gonna call? Sorry, you know we had to.
You can reach Ethan Tripp at (508) 951-8569, and be sure to follow his adventures and future modifications to the Ecto-84 on Instagram @New_Bedford_Ecto84.