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Clearwater men turn a DeLorean into a ‘Back to the Future’ time machine

“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style.”

CLEARWATER — After watching Back to the Future “hundreds of times” since he “was in Pampers,” Clearwater’s Bradley Despaigne claims he can recite the movie verbatim from start to finish.

His favorite quote? When Marty McFly incredulously asks Doc Brown, “Are you telling me that you built a time machine out of a DeLorean?”

It is a question now posed to him.

“I hear it a lot,” Despaigne, 36, said.

Despaigne purchased a DeLorean a little more than a year ago.

He and friend Joe Benson have since converted it into a near-exact replica of the famed cinematic time machine, right down to the Flux Capacitor.

“This is what makes time travel possible: the Flux Capacitor,” Despaigne said with a laugh, quoting Doc Brown’s explanation to Marty McFly in the popular 1985 film.

The Flux Capacitor, which makes time travel possible in "Back to the Future," inside the Bradley Despaigne's DeLorean.
The Flux Capacitor, which makes time travel possible in "Back to the Future," inside the Bradley Despaigne's DeLorean. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

There are only two differences between his time machine and the cinematic one.

His is still missing the ceiling console, but that will be added in the coming months.

And, of course, his does not go back in time when it hits 88 miles per hour “yet,” Despaigne said with a wink.

Some of the time machine’s parts are sold online — the flux capacitor and the digital “time circuit” that displays the destination time, present time and last time departed.

Despaigne recently had the destination set for 6:30 a.m. on August 29, 1984, the day and time of his birth.

“I want to run into the hospital room and tell my mom, ‘What are you doing? Push harder,’ ” he chuckled.

The time circuit inside Bradley Despaigne's replica time machine DeLorean is modeled off the original "Back to the Future" movie.
The time circuit inside Bradley Despaigne's replica time machine DeLorean is modeled off the original "Back to the Future" movie. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Other parts had to be fabricated.

The “plutonium chamber” lid on the back of the car is a 1976 Dodge Polara hubcap, and the time circuit lever is a double-sided wire brush handle. Benson said those were the materials used to create the cinematic prop, too.

“We wanted everything to be as authentic as possible,” Benson, 30, said. “We made this just like the movie made theirs.”

Bradley Despaigne and Joseph Benson created a replica DeLorean time machine modeled off the original "Back to the Future" movie. The "plutonium chamber" lid on the back of the car is a 1976 Dodge Polara hubcap.
Bradley Despaigne and Joseph Benson created a replica DeLorean time machine modeled off the original "Back to the Future" movie. The "plutonium chamber" lid on the back of the car is a 1976 Dodge Polara hubcap. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

If real, how would such a time machine work?

“According to the movie, it requires 1.21 gigawatts of power for the flux capacitor, which is where the plutonium comes into play,” Despaigne said. “Once the car hits 88 mph, it pulls the required power that then activates the wormhole emitter, which transports the DeLorean through time.”

He agrees that the DeLorean is the perfect car for a time machine.

“The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style,” said Despaigne, again quoting Doc Brown.

The DeLorean was only produced from 1981 to 1983. Despaigne paid $20,000 for a 1981 DeLorean that had 23,000 miles on it. He has since driven it 1,000 miles.

Bradley Despaigne's replica time machine DeLorean modeled off of the original "Back to the Future" movie.
Bradley Despaigne's replica time machine DeLorean modeled off of the original "Back to the Future" movie. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The rare car needed thousands of dollars in repairs before it was road ready, Benson said. “You can’t exactly go to an auto parts store and ask for parts for a 1981 DeLorean. A lot of what we needed had to be custom made, some in Australia, some in Europe.”

Thousands more were spent creating the replica time machine.

“This is just something I wanted for myself,” Despaigne said. “I love the movie, obviously.”

Bradley Despaigne and Joseph Benson created replica of the DeLorean time machine from original "Back to the Future" movie.
Bradley Despaigne and Joseph Benson created replica of the DeLorean time machine from original "Back to the Future" movie. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

He is not alone in his obsession. Fans around the world own similar replica time machines, the most famous being Jay Leno.

Despaigne’s is for rent, but for event display only, not for drives. Inquiries should go through his Instagram page at @81DMC_CLW.

The first time he took his time machine on the highway and watched the speedometer hit 88, Despaigne laughed that he wondered if he’d “soon see sparks, enter a wormhole and run into dinosaurs. When I didn’t, I wondered if the car would hold together at that speed. I don’t go that fast anymore.”

Bradley Despaigne, 36, left, and Joseph Benson, 30, show off Despaigne's DeLorean, which they transformed into a replica time machine modeled off of the original "Back to the Future" movie.
Bradley Despaigne, 36, left, and Joseph Benson, 30, show off Despaigne's DeLorean, which they transformed into a replica time machine modeled off of the original "Back to the Future" movie. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

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