November 5th, 1955.
That’s the day Doc Brown invented time travel. This weekend we celebrate the 68th anniversary of that red letter day by taking a closer look at the cars of the ‘Back to the Future’ films. Real gearheads know there was a lot more to BTTF than just the DeLorean.
1946 Ford Super De Luxe
The series’ main antagonist, Biff, actually drives a really cool car. The two-door convertible is jet black over a red leather interior, with a 239 c.i. ‘flathead’ V8′ under the hood. It rolls on whitewall tires wrapped around red steel wheels and chrome ‘smoothie’ hubcaps for a true hot-rod look The car plays a big role in Part 1 and Part 2, each time meeting the same crappy fate.
1976 BMW 633 CSi (Custom)
In BTTF2, this car is driven by Griff, Biff’s son in future 2015. The hot-rod BMW is the counterpart to the old man’s Ford. The futuristic customizations include a massive funny-car air scoop, and a ‘hover-conversion’. The red scalloped paint job over flat black gives the car a retro hot-rod look.
1989 Ford Probe (Custom)
Back in the mid-80s, the Ford Probe was a low-cost, sporty front-wheel-drive car that was supposed to replace the fox-body Mustang. It’s futuristic looks were taken to the extreme in BTTF2 with a steeply angled windshield added to the car, changing its profile, and its overall look for the movies.
1985 Toyota SR5 Pickup
One of the most loved vehicles in the BTTF series, the truck plays small parts to bookend the first movie, but plays a big part in the ‘turning point’ of the third film. In an impromptu drag race (against Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) Marty finally learns to control his temper when people call him ‘chicken’.
1987 Pontiac Pursuit (Concept Car)
If BTTF was made today, CGI cars would fill the screen, but in 1989, the film’s producers used all kinds of cool futuristic cars that were readily available. Some of these were old movie cars sitting on the Universal Studios back lot. Others were actually concept cars, including the Pontiac Pursuit seen here, which is related to the General Motors EV1 electric car of the mid 90s.
1946 Ford ‘Strip-Star’ (Custom)
This car was built by world famous car customizer Gene Winfield in the early 1960’s and graced all the hot rod magazines and car shows of the era. It’s powered by a Ford V8 and runs on a 1946 chassis. Nothing futuristic about it, yet it made it into the movie.
1984 Star Car (Custom Movie Car)
This movie prop was originally built for the 1984 science fiction flick ‘The Last Starfighter’ off a DMC DeLorean of all things. In the same ‘future’ scenes, you’ll also spot George Barris‘ Supervan from the 1970’s, a VW Beetle with MOONdisc hubcaps, plus the Saab EV-1 and Pontiac Fiero concept cars
1981 DeLorean DMC-12
No article on the cars of the BTTF movies would be complete without mentioning the DeLorean. It is such a big character in the films, but not in the way that KITT or Herbie the Love Bug is an actual character. Yet, it’s certainly more than a time travel appliance.
The cool thing about the DeLorean is how its appearance changes. In Part 1, the car is sleek and futuristic. By Part 2, it’s been upgraded with a Mr. Fusion portable reactor (like an el-cheapo Mr. Coffee machine) and a hover-conversion. In Part 3, the DeLorean gets outfitted with 50’s era whitewall tires and chrome hubcaps, plus a massive board of transistors and vacuum tubes strapped to the hood, in place of a burned-out microchip.
The DeLorean adapts and changes over time, just as characters develop. By the end, the car is a total hodge-podge of past and future technologies, but like a trusty horse in an old western, it always gets the hero to his destination.