It may not time travel, but the DeLorean sports car is finding its way into the future.
People are spending thousands of dollars to have DeLoreans outfitted to resemble the one that starred in the 1985 movie Back to the Future starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.
About 9,000 DeLorean DMC-12 cars were produced from 1981 to 1982 before the original company went bust. About 6,500 are believed to still exist, easily recognisable with their boxy, stainless steel bodies and gullwing doors.
The current brand owner, DeLorean Motor Co of Huntington Beach, handles everything from oil changes to full reconstructions. But as the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future approaches in 2015, there's been an increase in requests to recreate the film's iconic car, according to the Orange County Register.
"I've grown up around DeLoreans my entire life. I was dropped off to kindergarten in the actual Back to the Future car. A DeLorean was my first car at age 16," said Cameron Wynne, DeLorean general manager. " Back to the Future has been a huge part of the business."
Some replicas have been ordered for movie cameos, corporate appearances and even as the ride for a newlywed couple.
DeLorean mechanic Danny Botkin has built six movie replica cars so far, relying on photos he took when he helped restore the original Back to the Future car.
" Back to the Future is getting bigger and bigger, especially among kids who watched the movie in 1985 and now have enough money to own a piece of it," Botkin said.
Each replica costs about US$45,000. Passengers can punch in a "destination time" on the control panel and pull a lever to activate the pulsing lights of the time circuit. The parts are recreated using military surplus and other equipment, such as a jet engine oil cooler.
"We've never advertised that we build these," Botkin said. "It's just been a side thing we do. If people ask us to do it, we'll do it."
The current DeLorean Motor Co was started by Wynne's father, Stephen Wynne, who bought the original company's remaining parts. The parts, including 1,000 gullwing doors, fill a warehouse in Houston.
Seven years ago, DeLorean began re-manufacturing the car using donor cars that are stripped and fitted with remaining or remanufactured parts.
But the DeLorean isn't resting on its laurels. The company is working on an all-electric version it wants to travel 160 kilometres on a charge and accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in under 5 seconds.
But it won't need the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity required by Doc Brown's version.