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posted on October 21st, 2017

Go ahead, make Doc proud

“If you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?” Doc’s reasoning is sound, and it applies also for rental cars. If you’re going to rent a car, why not do it with some style? There are a lot of stylish rides on Turo, but Anthony D.’s original DeLorean fits the bill perfectly.

Now you too can travel back to the future, er, ‘80s, and drive this iconic 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. The legendary American-made exotic turns heads on the street like a movie star because it is the most famous movie car of all time (sorry James Bond). It’s low, it’s angular, it’s sexy — it’s a DeLorean!

Though this particular car has been in Anthony’s care for around 15 years, it’s never left the family. His grandfather bought the DeLorean brand new from the factory. Anthony has vivid memories of going to play with “the spaceship in the garage” when he was young, and his grandfather would take him on rides all the time. “I have very fond memories with it, which is why when my grandfather passed away, everyone was okay with me taking it,” he said. “My grandpa and the car are one and the same.”

Anthony drives it often, but the DeLorean is not known for its refinement or air-tight build quality. It was built in a time when new car technology was being introduced, but wasn’t quite perfected yet. Its mechanical fuel injection and small-company construction means that Anthony has to put a lot of love and sacrifice into the car to keep it maintained. Still, this DeLorean only has around 26,000 miles on the odometer and hasn’t needed any crazy restoration work done, so it’s almost completely original.

Of the 9,000 DeLoreans made between 1981 and 1983, about 6,500 examples are believed to be still puttering around. Servicing such a rare automobile can be a nightmare, but luckily for Anthony, an Orange County company specializing in DeLoreans bought all the spare parts from the factory and now services most of the southwestern United States.

This DeLorean is a real driver and has all the character of a car from its time. A couple bumper stickers, an appropriate license plate frame, and 35 years of love on the interior give the car its own personality. Aside from an upgraded exhaust and cassette player, this baby is all authentic DeLorean.

Famously, the DeLorean DMC-12 is not a fast car as the movie would have you believe. Its 2.85L V6 was developed as a collaboration between Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo under a special contract with DMC at the height of the ‘80s oil glut. The PRV V6 doesn’t make 1.21 gigawatts, but actually about 130 horsepower, giving the DeLorean closer to 100 horses at the wheels. So it’s not powerful, but it’s also not heavy, and Anthony reckons it’s a rather fun drive.

The DeLorean was built on a Lotus chassis and “handles like a banshee out of hell,” even without power steering. Its wedge-shaped fiberglass body perfectly captures its era, while the signature unpainted stainless steel panels help with flux dispersal… or something. Add the awesome gullwing doors, rear buttresses with windows, and you’ve got a perfectly ludicrous and fabulous 1980s supercar.

In 1981, US regulations only allowed for speedometers to read up to 85 mph. Which means, yes, the 88 mph required for time travel in “Back to the Future” is a bit of a lie. According to Anthony, while the DeLorean will go faster than 85 mph, the gauge cluster in the in the movie had to be repainted to display the magic speed of 88.

As long as Anthony can remember, he’s known about and loved the movie. People approach him about the DeLorean far more than they would if he was driving an exotic Italian supercar. “I have to know everything about the movie because people always ask me questions,” he said. He has dressed up as Marty McFly for Halloween multiple times at the request of friends, and it brings him a lot of joy. Strangers constantly offer to buy the car or leave notes and business cards on the windshield.

If you’re in Southern California and happen to have an eccentric physicist friend who needs a vehicle for any reason, take Anthony’s DeLorean for a spin. Hop through the gullwing doors and see if it doesn’t transport you back in time. Just watch out for the Libyans.

Steven is an avid car guy and content specialist at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.