Author Topic: Star Car of the Week: Back to the Future's Time Machine - 1981 DeLorean DMC-12  (Read 4714 times)


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The DeLorean DMC-12 was a radical new design first conceived some time in 1976, during the death knell of the muscle car era. It was designed by John DeLorean, who was also responsible for designing the 1968 Pontiac GTO as well as a few other Pontiac vehicles. He envisioned the DMC-12 as a futuristic sports car, though many wrenches were thrown into the mix and the final product was not exactly what it was intended to be - namely, it didn't have the rotary engine DeLorean had intended it to have, instead it had a very under powered V6. The body was made out of stainless steel, and it used a fiberglass unibody.

John DeLorean was arrested on drug charges in the summer of 1982, and that was the end of the DeLorean Motor Company, and sadly, the DMC-12.

Just 9,000 DMC-12's were built, and it's believed that around 6,500 still exist.

Then, a little movie called Back to the Future came along and immortalized the car.

The DMC-12's futuristic design was perfect for what Bob Gale had in mind when he wrote the script for BttF. Originally the script called for a time machine made out of a refrigerator, but fears concerning children who would probably lock themselves in refrigerators when playing "Back to the Future" caused Gale to look elsewhere for inspiration.

In the original movie, the car is adorned with a mini nuclear reactor, providing 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to Doc Brown's invention, the "Flux Capacitor", which is what.. makes.. time travel.. possible. The catch is that it's fueled by Plutonium, a resource that's not readily available at every corner drug store, even in the year 1985. When the Libyans that Doc stole a case of Plutonium from come after him, Marty McFly, Doc's young friend accidentally travels backward through time to the year 1955, where he becomes stranded due to the lack of extra plutonium. The only power source available in 1955 that could generate the power the Flux Capacitor needs to work is a bolt of lightning.

At the end of the movie, Doc returns from the year 2015 with two major upgrades to the time machine - it now has a Fusion reactor, requiring only common household garbage as fuel, and the car now flies.

The end of Back to the Future 2 depicts the DeLorean being struck directly by lightning. Instead of being directly channeled into the Flux Capacitor like in the first movie, the electricity shorts out the time circuits and sends the DeLorean to a random year - 1885.

It's explained by Doc in the recently released BttF video game that the unplanned lightning strike also created at least one duplicate of the time machine, which Doc found while exploring the year 2025 in his newly built time machine locomotive. This explains how the DeLorean can appear in the game despite having been destroyed at the end of the 3rd movie, which takes place a few months prior to the game's events. Doc procures this copy of the time machine and uses it to further explore other time periods, as I'm sure it's much easier to manage than a train is. It's possible that this means a duplicate of Doc was also created, or that there are multiple duplicates in different time periods, but this has yet to be discussed. The game's story is written by Bob Gale, writer of the movies, so it is considered cannon by fans.

The Back to the Future movies and the DeLorean time machine itself have earned major cult status and remain extremely popular to this day. Tributes to BttF and the DeLorean are common place among video game modders. Usually, if a video game involves cars, chances are someone is going to mod in a DeLorean time machine.

The Time Machine mod for Crysis is probably the most well done, as it actually does travel time - only forward, but it works.

The Time Machine isn't only popular with video game modders, however, as even real life car modders have converted real DeLoreans into exact replicas of the time machine from the movies, completely with sound effects.

Just as the movies seem to be, it's clear that the DeLorean time machine is.. well, timeless. It will always be cool and will always capture the imagination of kids and adults alike. It's without a doubt my favorite movie car of all time.

Next week: The Blues Mobile
« Last Edit: April 06, 2011, 06:51:20 PM by 77olds »

Onyx Dragon

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Good choice in first cars for this!!!


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Slick looking cars... Back in Beckley a Dodge dealer had one on display, with a price tag of $50,000. It was in mint condition though so he may well have sold it since I lived there. It was really neat getting to sit in the car.


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there's a company that was restoring these things.
the guy lamented they were running out of donor cars to use and said before long they could build one from scratch.
no idea where that stands now, i don't have time to look it up at the moment.

his name is Espy
You cain't buy it that way...


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The initial script idea for Marty to get back to 1985 was to have them go to Nevada where they were doing nuclear testing, but the cost to do such a thing was just too great.  So they went with the lighting on the clock tower.

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