Did George Barris Really Design the Ecto-1 for Ghostbusters?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: George Barris designed Ecto-1 for Ghostbusters and the Delorean for Back to the Future.

Before he passed away in November, George Barris was dubbed (by himself) the King of the Kustomizers, and really, he was most likely correct, as he was almost certainly the most famous custom car designer in the world. He worked as a custom car designer for many decades. His most famous design was likely the Batmobile for the Batman TV series.

Barris’ design company also customized cars for private sale by turning cars into replicas of famous car designs from various TV series and movies. They would do this for cars that Barris designed but also for cars that he did not design.

Perhaps due to that fact (that he and his company would routinely do customizations of cars that were not his design), Barris over the years became a bit overreaching with his claims over what cars he did designs for. Honestly, if you followed enough of his interviews, you can see his stories change as he took slightly more and more credit as the years went by.

A lot of this I think likely came not from Barris himself (at least not initally) but by others making mistakes and Barris just not correcting them. Then, I suppose Barris convinced himself that the mistaken credits were true. Either way, Barris, at times, took credit for designing both the DeLorean time machine used in Back to the Future

and Ecto-1 from the Ghostbusters movies.

As Bob Gale explained on the great Back to the Future website, bttf.com:

The DeLorean was designed on paper by Ron Cobb and Andrew Probert, and was built by our Special Effects Supervisor Kevin Pike and his team, with artistic supervision by Michael Scheffe. These are the guys who earned and deserve the credit.

Steven Dane was the customizer of the Ecto-1, based on a design by Dan Aykroyd and artist John Daveikis.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.


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