Back to the Future ... all over again

From now on, whenever you watch Back to the Future, the entire franchise will have happened in the past.

This is heavy, Doc, and hard to believe for a kid of the Eighties who grew up on unhealthy doses of Stars Wars (Episodes 4-6), Indiana Jones (not that Kingdom of Crystal Skull mess) and Marty McFly.

I have long said those three franchises are my favourite films. While visiting my grandparents' homeland one Christmas, my older brother Will and I watched all three Back to the Future movies in an Austrian hotel room - the lack of subtitles mixed with our (very) basic knowledge of German didn't really affect the film-watching experience as we knew the plot inside and out.

One hungover Saturday in Seoul, I watched all three movies in English trying to painstakingly read the Korean subtitles … very unsuccessfully.

On Back to the Future Day - that would be Oct. 21, 2015, the date that Marty and Doc visit in the then-future - the people who call the shots gave me the Marty McFly assignment.

Well, they said I could do a story on it and I took it to the next level and rushed to Value Village to buy a last minute costume.

What's a costume without a car, though?

In the movie, Doc Brown builds a time machine out of a DeLorean DMC-12. Best known for its stainless steel look and gull-wing doors the car didn't catch on like John DeLorean had hoped.

The first ones rolled off the assembly line in Ireland and the USA in 1981. Around 9,000 or 10,000 were built before production was halted in 1983. The internet's best guess is that by 2007, only 6,500 remained.

I knew where one of them was.

Once again living the DeLorean daydream

Colin Dalton, co-owner of the Duke of Duckworth and a friend of the family, has a DeLorean

"Hey Colin, I have a ridiculous request. . . can I sit in the DeLorean DMC-12 and film it?" Knowing me and what I do, he quickly agreed.

We had a quick chat about the car and we did a short interview. I did a little bit of shtick for the "news" story and we posed for a pic.

While showing it off to people I was asked if that's the first time I've sat in a DeLorean.

No, it wasn't it.

In fact, it wasn't even the first time I sat in THAT DeLorean.

A long, long time ago my stepfather, Tom Jackson, ended up with one. Back in the late 1970s, Tom started his own import auto garage, TJ's Place.

Throughout his 35 years in business, a lot of high-end and exotic cars rolled in and out of the bays of Spencer Street and later Harbourview Avenue in the east end of St. John's.

On any given day, the garage was a sea of Volkswagens, Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs, Volvos, Porches and the occasional Ferrari.

But none of those cars caught my attention like the DeLorean DMC-12. All thanks to a man named Karl Kenny, who imported one in the early Nineties.

Turned out the DMC-12's engine block had a crack in it so Tom took a look at it. Luckily, the DeLorean shared similar engine blocks with Renault, Peugeot and Volvo. Using a low-mileage V6 engine, recently removed from Lewis Ayre's Volvo, Tom successfully made the transplant.

The DeLorean was revived and thus belonged to Tom. It's not really a cruising-around-St. John's sort of car so he rarely drove it. Mainly he kept it on display at TJ's Place.

As a young boy and a teenager, I couldn't walk into the shop without taking a look, and a seat, in that DMC-12, the only rule being don't touch it.

One of the unique features of the car is that it doesn't have paint; it's made of stainless steel. Not an ideal feature in a rare car that causes people's heads to turn and ultimately running their grubby hands all over it. This tended to leave owners cursing as they constantly cleaned fingerprints off it.

As I got older - older being 13 - I got it into my head that I was going to buy the DeLorean, make the purchase and drive down to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Like my late grandfather Doug, I too love the games. What a road trip. The gull-wing doors heading down the Interstate towards a summer sports party. Tom even offered to set up a payment plan as early as my 14th birthday to help get the ball rolling.

Sadly, I felt my money was better spent renting Nintendo games or buying fries and shakes at McDonald's.

With no phones or tablets to keep teens occupied in the early '90s, I spent a lot of time in the dark showroom on Harbourview Avenue sitting in the front seat of that DMC-12, both hands on the wheel pretending to drive it, trying to get it up to 88 miles an hour.

I invested a fair bit of time into the daydream that I owned it and immediately impressed others with my Back to the Future car. TJ gave me a few rides in it, but I never got to drive it.

In the mid-90s, Tom sold my beloved DeLorean. I was heartbroken … well, about as heartbroken as a teenager who lost his first love. To be honest, until Oct. 21, 2015, I hadn't thought about that DeLorean in a long, long time.

While sitting in Colin's garage last week he went through an old briefcase and found an old bill - he couldn't find the original bill of sale - but at the top is the familiar blue TJ's Place logo, Toms unique handwriting detailing the work done on the DMC-12.

Colin did offer to sell it to me. Alas I cannot, that car is a part of my past and not my future.

That … and I don't have enough money.

But the picture of me and Colin standing next to it brought back a lot of fond memories. It may not have been a time machine but that DeLorean certainly took me back to the past.

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