Who ya gonna call, when you need to go back in time?
Joe Pace, that’s who. Pace, a long-time Northeast resident, once owned and operated Pace’s Body Shop on Independence Avenue and used his shop space to create memorable replicas of cars featured in popular movies, such as Back To The Future and Ghostbusters.
Both cars, which area youngsters would see during the annual Scare-It Halloween events most years, have recently found a new home and are now on permanent display at the Celebrity Car Museum in Branson, Missouri.
“Nobody is as sad as me,” quips Pace when talking about the sale. “That car has been with me, the Delorean, for 38 years. Sad to see them go, but it was time. Now more people can see them and enjoy them.”
Pace’s “Ghostblaster” was sold to the museum last year, and the Back to the Future Deloren was sold and moved in July.
“Already, we have people come in (to the museum) and ask to see Joe Pace’s cars,” said Scott Velvet, owner of the Celebrity Car Museum. “He’s kind of the George Barris of the midwest, a legend. That’s one reason the cars are on display right next to each other.”
Pace already owned the Delorean when his friend Joe Fasone, owner of Cotton’s Video, another Independence Avenue business at that time, contacted him about a new movie coming out that featured a Delorean and persuaded him to make modifications to match those in the movie.
“Back then (1985), it was hard to get photos of the details. I watched the movie (at the theater) 12 times, taking notes and making sketches,” recalled Pace. Fasone wanted the car to be ready for an opening event, so Pace did all the work in three weeks.
“We drove it down to Wichita for this event, and everyone was blown away. We took it to auto shows, it’s been in commercials,” Pace said. “The museum has been wanting to buy it since 2018, and the price was right. So I finally did it.”
While the Back To The Future Delorean was put together in three weeks, the Ghostblaster was a much more extensive project. Following a family trip to the Buena Vista Animal Park outside Springfield, Mo., Pace spotted a 1959 Cadillac hearse sitting in a field. The price was only $300 and Ghostbusters II was being filmed, and would be released later that year (1989).
The car needed extensive work and was hauled on a trailer to Pace’s shop, where several of his employees would spend a few hours here and there, or late nights and weekends outfitting the hearse to resemble the Ecto 1. But instead of being ready to capture ghosts, spirits, and ectoplasmic entities, Pace’s version was retrofitted with 112 speakers, hence the name “Ghostblaster”. The process was recorded by Pace on home video, which can be viewed on YouTube by searching Joe Pace- Making the Ghostblaster car.
Over the next 11 months, from February 1988 to January 1989, the hearse was transformed bit by bit, piece by piece, with many of the special features, like a creature with glowing eyes “busting” through the tailgate door, being specially crafted and installed. Once completed, the Ghostblaster toured the country, appearing at auto shows and comic-cons, just like the Delorean.
Pace’s love of cars started at an early age, and he credits his uncle Tony Pace, who once owned Pace’s Speed Shop in the Northeast, for setting him on the right path.
“My dad left when I was eight, but my uncle made sure I was part of the family- Sunday dinners, vacations with his family. He had me delivering auto parts in my wagon when I was nine, by the time I was twelve, I had my first car- I couldn’t legally drive it- but I learned how to do repairs on it,” said Pace. “I credit my uncle for everything I learned about cars, and life.”
Pace opened his shop at Independence and Monroe Avenues in 1978 and did general body work and car repairs, as well as leasing space to others to do the same. He closed the shop in 1996, following a divorce. In the division of property, his wife received ownership of the Ghostblaster, while Pace kept the Back To The Future Delorean.
Pace had a chance to purchase the Ghostblaster in 2015, but after subsequent owners, he had a lot of work to do to replace and repair the vehicle- all the speakers had been removed as well as some of the decorations, namely the Slimer figure that once sat on the car’s hood. Then it was back to showing either one car or the other- or both at shows and special events.
That’s when Velvet first saw Pace’s cars and expressed interest in adding them to the museum’s growing collection of original and replica vehicles.
“These are unique pieces because they were done first, the Delorean was done the same time the movie was coming out. Other guys, like Video Bob, he’s done several replicas. I think I have #5 that he built, but Pace’s was like the first ever. That one will be on permanent display and we’ll use the other one for touring shows,” said Velvet.
Now that both his special creations have a new home, Pace is looking to travel and enjoy seeing places while he can. The proceeds from the sale enabled him to purchase a motor home. He’s experienced some health issues in recent years and has retired from the auto repair business, but notes the change has not been easy.
“That car (the Delorean) was a part of me, it’s very emotional. I am proud to say that they’re in a museum,” Pace said. “It wasn’t about the money in the end, it was more about knowing they were going to be taken care of.”
The Celebrity Car Museum is located at 1600 State Highway 76 in Branson, Missouri. Visit their website at www.celebritycarmuseum.com for more information.