Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine

| July 20, 2016

In 1985, the best film trilogy ever kicked off: Back to the Future.  Robert Zemeckis’s story about a high school kid named Marty (Michael J. Fox) and his adventures through time with eccentric scientist Doc (Christopher Lloyd) with the use of Doc’s DeLorean time machine is full of iconic imagery, comedy, thrills, romance, Romance, and even philosophical discussions of fate and choice.  The trilogy is three of my favorite films of all time, including the third one, which most people dismiss, but I love it as the perfect finale to Marty and Doc’s story.

There were 3 DeLoreans built for the films.  The A car was the best looking with the most detail and was used for most of the filming process.  The B car was a little less detailed and was used for the stunt driving in the films.  The C car was cut in half and was used for filming inside the time machine.  Being the most detailed, the A car was also used for promotional material, commercials, music videos, and anything else you can think of where you saw the iconic car (except probably for its cameo in Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in The West, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that was the B car).

When it wasn’t being used for filming, the A car was on display at Universal Studios, sometimes even driven around by a Doc Brown impersonator who would take photos with the fans.  After a while, the car was parked on a lot near a bunch of other iconic film vehicles, where it sat for years with very little security and often unlocked.  Exposed to the elements and fans, the car was a victim of sun damage, water damage (the car didn’t even have a rear window), and fans who would help themselves to parts of the car as a souvenir.  Over the course of 20 years, the car became a ghost of its former self, and even had birds and rats living in it.

As the 30th anniversary approached, Universal wanted to do a big Back to the Future celebration and hired a team of professionals to undertake the near impossible task of restoring the DeLorean to its former glory.  Outatime is their story.

On top of being the best at what they do, the restoration team were also avid Back to the Future fans who knew that the time machine had to be absolutely perfect.  They worked tirelessly, sometimes putting in 22 hour days near the end of the project to make sure the DeLorean was perfect down to the most minute detail.  Don’t believe me?  The team spent hours at a wire factory finding antiquated wire and covering that hasn’t been used for 30 years, even finding the exact color of original wiring used on the vehicle.  They scoured scrap yards and military surplus warehouses looking for exact mounts and houses that haven’t been in use for decades.  They reached out to the very fans who cannibalized the car at Universal to return the parts they stole and I’m proud to say that a lot of my fellow fans rose to the occasion to return their ill-gotten, priceless collectables, including the car’s flux capacitor, which makes time travel possible.

Start to finish I was absolutely fascinated with this film and the story of this team working so hard to restore a film icon.  She should have never been left to the mercy of weather and fans alike in the first place, but Universal has paid their penance in doing this right and honoring the time machine’s memory and place in film iconography.  And now you can share in the excitement of her story.  A must view for any Back to the Future fan.

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Virgil Films.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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