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Car Video:  Oversteer

Here's What It's Like to Drive a DeLorean Time Machine

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author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2017

I recently had the opportunity to drive a DeLorean time machine. To answer your inevitable questions in order: Yes, it has a flux capacitor. No, I did not get it up to 88 miles per hour. No, it's not the one from the movie. Yes, you can take a picture.

I say all this because I have never, in my entire life, among the hundreds and possibly thousands of cars I've driven, been around anything that attracts as much attention as the DeLorean time machine. Remember when I drove that Lamborghini Aventador SV, and I talked about how so many people were looking at me? That was humorous. That was cute. Compared to the DeLorean time machine, that Aventador might as well have been a beige Hyundai Elantra from Avis.

Now, before I tell you more about all the attention, I think it's time to explain why I drove a DeLorean time machine. So here's the situation: First off, the DeLorean in question was not an actual time machine. In reality, it could not travel around in time, and frankly it could not travel anywhere very quickly. But it was an exact replica of the DeLorean time machine from "Back to the Future," and it's owned by a viewer of mine named Elliot who lives in Florida.

As you may be aware, I traveled to Florida recently to film videos with several vehicles, and Elliot is one of the people I chose to contact. I did this for two reasons. One, because Elliot seems like a pleasant and agreeable individual. And two, because Elliot has a DeLorean time machine.

So I'll start with the basics. Elliot enjoys the "Back to the Future" movies, although I get the sense that he's not some crazy superfan who dresses like Marty McFly and uses the movie lines at dinner parties, even after people have heard him rattle off "FAR OUT!" for the eleventh time. He just likes cars, and these are the cars he chooses to like. Some people are into off-roading. Some people are into vintage fire engines. Some people are into Hondas that don't have enough ground clearance to enter shopping centers. Elliot is into movie cars.

I say movie cars, plural, because Elliot also owns a replica of the Jeep Wrangler from "Jurassic Park." However, I did not drive this Jeep Wrangler, because I was far too awestruck by the DeLorean time machine.

So here's the situation. Elliot's DeLorean time machine is basically just a standard DeLorean with a host of exciting additions made to exactly replicate the car from "Back to the Future." I should note, by the way, that I am talking about the first movie. The car apparently changes a little, ever so subtly, in the other movies, and so people who make DeLorean time machine replicas need to decide which movie they want their time machine to come from. And for Elliot, that's the first movie.

Here's the crazy thing about Elliot's DeLorean: It really is an exact copy. Elliot fitted the front trunk with an extra battery to power all sorts of cool stuff, and so everything ... works. All the interior lights work. Everything that's supposed to flash flashes. Everything that should blink blinks. The giant center display where you enter the date to which you'd like to travel works brilliantly. It's controlled with a telephone dialing pad in Elliot's car ... because it's controlled with a telephone dialing pad in the movie. Even the flux capacitor fluxes, and the doors make the proper noise when they open -- although they didn't in the movie, as those sounds were added later, in post-production.

The amount of detail in this thing is staggering.

So then you take it out on the road and you discover two things that should be very obvious before you drive it. Number one, the DeLorean is slow. And when I say "slow" I don't mean it's sort of fast, but it could use an extra 20 horsepower. I mean that if you added 20 horsepower, it might then have a grand total of 29 horsepower -- and at that point, it could at least match the off-the-line acceleration of a Hyundai Santa Fe whose driver is lazily cruising around and talking on the phone.

The other thing you notice is just how much attention this thing gets. Now, I don't want to exaggerate here, so I'll put it like this: If you parked the DeLorean time machine next to actual space aliens that look like those things from "Independence Day," with all the tentacles -- the ones that could communicate with their thoughts -- people would use that human-to-alien thought communication to tell the aliens "Hold on," so they could check out the DeLorean time machine.

Seriously: I drove the thing for about 35 minutes, and I was the object of staring, pointing, laughing, approaching, speaking, amazement, camera phone pictures, smiles and disbelief from virtually every single person I encountered. At one point, Elliot and I went to a barbecue restaurant for lunch -- and when we came out, a group had gathered around the car, forming a "U" shape, as if they were expecting it to begin delivering a sermon.

In the end, the entire experience was really exciting, primarily for two reasons. Number one, because it was amazing to see all the stunned reactions to the time machine as I drove it around on the roads. You don't have to even slightly be into cars to appreciate the DeLorean time machine. And number two, because of the truly amazing attention to detail that went into making every single aspect of this thing absolutely perfect. It was (how else did you expect me to end this?) ... FAR OUT!

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Here's What It's Like to Drive a DeLorean Time Machine - Autotrader