Wired Magazine reminds us of that scene, and for probably the ten-thousandth time reminds Paul DeLorean of it. He's the nephew of John DeLorean, legendary auto executive and designer of the Pontiac GTO, Firebird and Grand Prix — and especially, of the stainless-steel DeLorean DMC-12, a car with space-age looks but horseless-carriage power.
Wired's story, published Sunday, is titled "A flying car from DeLorean really won't need roads," and profiles the younger DeLorean's exploits as CEO and chief designer of DeLorean Aerospace, which he founded in 2012 to develop a flying car.
And that's not the stuff of 1980s popcorn movies. We've reported the entry of many players and investors in the flying-car game in recent months, from aerospace giant Airbus to entities with much fewer cockpit hours to their name, such as Uber and Google co-founder Larry Page. Otherwise conservative Toyota imagines taxis zipping overhead at the Tokyo Olympics just three years from now. Volvo's parent China's Geely bought a flying-car startup. Seemingly 5 minutes after introducing its PHEV pickup this year, Canada's WorkHorse unveiled a flying car. And even Daimler bet a little money earlier this month.
As Wired's Jack Stewart writes, "DeLorean's DR-7 aircraft doesn't look as outlandish as some concepts" from that eclectic list. Unlike many of them, it's not an outsized drone — it has wings, which fold away for parking. It has two ducted fans that swivel from horizontal, for vertical takeoff and landing, into a vertical flight position. It would fly itself, so you don't have to. And it will have electric propulsion, with a ambitions for a range of 120 miles. When you consider that Larry Page's little Kitty Hawk, a machine we've actually seen in flight, has a flight time of just a few minutes, 120 miles sounds pretty ambitious.
DeLorean's company has made a couple scale models, and, "We are moving forward on a full-size, piloted prototype which will carry two passengers and is designed to operate, fully electric, for a range of 120 miles," he says. He plans to "fly the hell" out of a radio-controlled version before putting humans aboard.
In other words, we're not back to the future — it's still in the future. But if we ever get back there, we might find a brand name we recognize.