Dave McDonough's Movie Cars Pop Up in Car Chases, Manhunts and Other Odd Situations

Danny Gallagher
Dave Scott McDonough loves the attention he gets from his movie cars.
Car collector and builder Dave Scott McDonough always gets noticed when he goes for a drive. The car he uses to drive to work and take his kids to school is a model of the Ecto-1 used in the movie Ghostbusters. His backup ride is a Jeep fashioned to look like one of the cars from Jurassic Park.

Lately, however, his cars have garnered attention that reached a lot farther than the line of sight of the people who see him driving them.

Both of McDonough's movie replica cars, a 2005 Toyota Sequoia that's now his Ecto-1 and a 1994 Jeep Wrangler that he turned into a Jurassic Park jeep, gained recent attention when they started popping in some weird places — like police car chases and even a manhunt in his neighborhood. Both moments happened within the span of a month. 

"He likes the attention," his wife, Angie, says.

The car chase happened Feb. 6. McDonough had just left work from his job at the Frito Lay plant in Duncanville after a long day. He turned onto Interstate 20 when he noticed some police cars on the road.

"I could see these cop cars, and I say to myself, 'There's an accident,'" he says. "'I can follow them and get through it.'"

Just a few seconds later, a speeding car came up from behind him and cut him off. McDonough says he realized the police were chasing the car, so he pulled out his phone to record it. He didn't realize anyone noticed him in his Ecto-1 because he's used to the looks it attracts.

"We stopped paying attention to it," McDonough says. "The only time we notice is when they are weaving in the lane and trying to take a picture with their phone."

McDonough didn't realize the helicopters overhead were filming the chase, and one of them caught a glimpse of the Ecto-1 for the evening news.

"I get a call from my buddy Brian, and I said, 'You better have a good reason for interrupting my video,'" McDonough says. "He said, 'You are on TV right now.'"

By the time McDonough got to his home in Mesquite, the image had gone viral and he had been a last-minute guest on The Russ Martin Show on 97.1 FM The Eagle. The talk radio host, who also owns a private collection of screen-accurate movie and TV cars, talked about the Ecto-1 while McDonough was still sitting in traffic.

"That's really where I thought it would all end," McDonough says.

A couple of weeks later, McDonough's dogs woke him up around midnight. He says he thought they just needed to go out, but the sound of a helicopter flying over his house made him think twice about why they were scratching at the back door. He later spotted a couple of police cars in the driveway, and a police officer told him and his family to stay inside for their safety because officers were looking for a suspect on the run.

"I told my wife if that guy is hiding anywhere, the best place would be in the open garage," McDonough says.

He headed to the kitchen, peered into the open garage and caught glimpse of what looked like the head of a man hiding under his Jurassic Park jeep — the second movie car he built, which earned him a spot in the Jurassic Park Motor Pool Car Club. McDonough says he originally painted the car so his wife could drive it, but he eventually persuaded her to let him turn it into another movie car project. He rebuilt it before putting on the Jurassic Park logo and stickers.

click to enlarge A security camera caught a glimpse of a man hiding from the Mesquite police Feb. 27. - COURTESY DAVE MCDONOUGH
A security camera caught a glimpse of a man hiding from the Mesquite police Feb. 27.
courtesy Dave McDonough
"When I bought it and cleaned all the mud off it, it looked like I had a base for a good Jurassic Park jeep," he says. "Angie said, 'Over my dead body will I ride in that.'"

McDonough turned on the security camera in the garage and confirmed someone was hiding near the front of his Jeep. Police caught and arrested the man after they found him hiding in the garage. The security camera footage and one of McDonough's movie cars earned him another spot on the news and more viral fame.

"That story's even scarier," he says.

McDonough says he doesn't mind the attention his cars get him. That's why he built them, drives them, and spends so much time and money maintaining them. He's planning to turn his passion into something he can share with others with a new business called Dallas Movie Replicas.

"Ever since I was a kid, my uncle was the vice president of GMC, and he owned a Batmobile, a Batcycle and a Munstermobile," McDonough says. "I just watched that and think how cool it would be to drive the Batmobile. I don't want to be the guy driving a fucking minivan."