'Back to the Future' De Lorean Time Machine
John De Lorean is gone, and his various fiascoes are fading memories. But Back to the Future and its sequels play continually on TV. The De Lorean sports car will be remembered foremost as the basis on which Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) built the time machine that sent Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) shooting through history. There are worse fates.
At least five De Loreans were used in making the films, and the original car now sits outside Universal Studios in Hollywood. To Dan Botkin, the service manager at the De Lorean Motor Company California (www.deloreanmotorcenter.com) in Garden Grove, California, that's a piece of history just rotting away. And it's an opportunity, because a profitable subset of his service business is converting De Loreans into time machines. The one you see here is his third.
This time machine started as a 1981 model, with the standard 130-hp, 2.8-liter V-6 out back feeding a three-speed automatic transaxle. Botkin's crew did a frame-off restoration of the 40,000-mile car before turning it into a replica of the time machine as it existed at the end of the first movie. That includes the "flux capacitor" between the seats and the "Mr. Fusion" atop the rear deck. Of course, the flux capacitor is an electrical box filled with some LED chaser lights, and Mr. Fusion is a Krups coffee grinder, but even up close, Botkin's time machine is a dead ringer for the original. That is the miracle of freeze-frame on DVD players, and $70,000 (beyond the cost of the De Lorean) worth of detail.
But all those gizmos, lights, and working time readouts weigh down the De Lorean with 700 or so extra pounds of mass. With obvious strain, this car crept to 60 mph in 14.1 seconds and strolled through the quarter-mile in 19.4 seconds at 70. It didn't get to 88 mph.
But at night, the De Lorean produces a spectacular light show, smoke billowing from the huge twin rear tunnels. No wonder Botkin is able to rent it regularly for corporate events where the CEO wants to make the point that he's taking the company "back to the future." That lack of imagination runs $600 a day.
VEHICLE TYPE: rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe
ESTIMATED PRICE AS TESTED: $110,000
ENGINE TYPE: SOHC 12-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 174 cu in, 2849cc
Power (SAE net): 130 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 160 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 3-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 94.8 in
Length: 168.0 in
Width: 78.3 in
Height*: 44.9 in
Curb weight: 3420 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 14.1 sec
Zero to 88 mph: not enough road
Street start, 5–60 mph: 13.7 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 19.4 sec @ 70 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 439 ft
*Does not include time-travel accessories
'Mad Max' Ford Falcon Interceptor
Replicating Mad Max's "last of the V-8 Interceptors" is tough because that icon of Outback anarchy starts as an "XB" Falcon coupe, 1973 through 1976. There just aren't many of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Actually, there aren't many left in Australia, either. And they're not cheap.
Paul Miller, who is a low-budget film director and no relation to George Miller, who directed 1979's Mad Max and its two sequels, found this XB through the Yahoo Mad Max Replicas forum while the car was in the middle of its transmogrification but still in Australia. "This is my second one," he explains. "I sold the first when I thought I needed the money and could live without it. Then I realized my mistake." Getting this 1975 Falcon into the U.S. wasn't difficult once he had paid "about $25,000" for it and another $3500 to have it shipped to California in a container with four other emigrating cars.
Derived, like the Mustang, from the original U.S.-market 1960 Falcon, the XB Falcon is a straightforward muscle car with a solid rear axle hanging on leaf springs in back, a simple unibody structure, and an Australian-built 300-hp, 351-cubic-inch Cleveland pushrod V-8 underhood hooked to a four-speed manual transmission. The styling looks like a frappé of '71 Torino and '71 Mustang, and that's very much how the Falcon XB drives -- plus the steering wheel is on the wrong side.
What turns an XB into an Interceptor is purely cosmetic and available from an Indiana company called MadMaxParts.com. The $2995 body kit includes a fiberglass nose, roof wing, fender flares, and decklid spoiler. Throw in a fake blower for $1200 (the real deal costs $4995), some miscellaneous lights, light covers, wheels, a set of 245/60R-15 front and 275/60R-15 rear BFGoodrich Radial T/As, a pair of chrome-tipped "zoomie" side exhausts, and some paint, and the total cost for Miller's apocalyptic prowler comes to about $40,000.
For a 32-year-old muscle car, Miller's machine is tight and drives well. But it's not quick (standstill to 60 took 8.2 seconds), and it doesn't engender the instant adoration that the American icons do.
Mad Max made Mel Gibson a star, but his car is still relatively obscure.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
ESTIMATED PRICE AS TESTED: $40,000
ENGINE TYPE: pushrod 16-valve V-8, iron block and heads, 1x4-bbl carburetor
Displacement: 351 cu in, 5754cc
Power (SAE gross): 300 bhp @ 5400 rpm
Torque (SAE gross): 380 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 4-speed manual
Wheelbase: 110.9 in
Length: 189.3 in
Width: 77.5 in
Height: 51.4 in
Curb weight: 3640 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 8.2 sec
Zero to 90 mph: 18.1 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 9.3 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.3 sec @ 85 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 300 ft