Sunday, November 22, 2015

Livermore Street Sighting - 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

Many of my readers are no doubt familiar with the Back To The Future franchise and the significance of October 21, 2015 as the so-called "Back to the Future Day", when Marty McFly traveled to the future. Well, I attended a double feature screening of BTTF I and II in Livermore's Vine Cinema on that night, and what turned up outside the theater but a DeLorean? A fan had driven his car there for the screening. Maybe it's cheating, but I know where at least three other DeLoreans live and none of them are ever parked on the street.

The DeLorean DMC-12 was the brainchild of Pontiac GTO creator John Z. DeLorean, conceived as a mid-engined sports car with gullwing doors and stainless steel bodywork. Power came from a 2.8 liter Peugeot-Renault-Volvo corporate V6 engine that produced about 130 horsepower. The car's futuristic styling came from Giorgetto Giugiaro and it was welded and screwed together in Northern Ireland. Of course the two things everyone remembers about the DeLorean are the cocaine scandal that allegedly helped fund the enterprise, and the car's role in the BTTF series. The latter has no doubt contributed to the DeLorean's continued status as a retro-cool collectible.

I spoke to the owner and he was a huge BTTF fan, with a small replica 'flux capacitor' installed between the seats and a replica hoverboard he had brought along for the theater night. The car was a low-mileage example that had lived a hard life before he purchased it a few years ago, and apparently had been parked outside for much of its life. It also had some repaired body damage and was in the process of restoration. I love the custom license plate, 88NGONE, an obvious reference to the 88 mph speed required for Doc Brown's time machine to make its time jumps. Unfortunately the car boiled over and lost most of its coolant all over the street while it sat there. I guess it carries on the DeLorean's reputation for unreliability, but it's still so cool to look at.

It's certainly one of the most distinctive things to come out of the early 1980s. Considering that in 1981 the Chevrolet Chevette was the #1 best selling car in the United States, the DeLorean didn't have to try so hard to stand out. But thousands of moviegoers and car enthusiasts the world over are glad it did.