A 50-YEAR-OLD American Cadillac ambulance, rescued from a church in Maryland when about to set off for the scrapyard, went on to have an unlikely new life as a Ghostbusters movie tribute limousine.
The two-and-a-half ton, 20ft-long monster became a sought-after private hire vehicle in Europe – but when it came up for auction last week, it failed to find a buyer. The 1959 Caddy had been expected to attract bids in the region of £85,000 when it went under the hammer at Historics at Brooklands.
After its ambulance years, the car had been used in church parades and even had its roof cut off. Then coachbuilder Chris Reynolds rescued it and spent £65,000 transforming it into a luxurious limo.
The 6.5-litre Ghostbuster car has been used for private rental and promotional activities, but with a fuel consumption figure of eight miles per gallon, most of its journeys were probably pretty short ones.
The exterior of the vehicle is a faithful recreation of the car that featured in the 1984 film, complete with logos and roof props, but the interior has undergone a £7,000 refurbishment, including three luxurious, leather-clad bench seats.
Chris Reynolds said: “The car’s ghostly presence is in stark contrast to the real life experience of bringing it back to life – and the cost of doing so. It was about to be scrapped when I discovered it and the restoration has been a real labour of love.”
Another ‘supernatural’ vehicle that failed to find a buyer at the same auction was a 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Salamanca. It was one of 1701 ‘Ghosts’ produced by the Newhaven factory in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was originally registered in California and then lived in New York before moving to South Africa.
Its owner intended to transfer the engine into a boat but a last-minute change of heart meant the Salamanca never set sail. Instead it went on to develop a pedigree as a South African national rally race winner in 1955 and 1960 and class winner in 1956.
The car achieved a purported world-record hammer price for a Springfield Ghost of £38,000 at auction in the UK in 1977 and, with extensive documentation detailing many years of ultra-reliable motoring, it had been expected to fetch up to £145,000 at auction.
Completing a hat-trick of high-profile ‘no sales’ at the event was a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 convertible, one of only 123 built. It had been expected to be the most expensive car of the day, making between £350,000 and £450,000, but again seems to have fallen victim to the recession.
Historics at Brooklands was established six months ago by private investors to provide a professional resource for the sale and purchase of good-quality classic and collectors’ cars. Last week’s was its second auction – its first, in June, generated £2m-plus in sales. The next one is in December.