The Great Beater Challenge 2023 – Back to the Future (and the Challenge) – Vehicle Prep

We have done the Great Beater Challenge every year except for 2022 when we had a family milestone birthday to attend on the same weekend. This year marked our return to the Challenge. As a quick refresher the general idea of the Great Beater Challenge is as follows: buy a cheap vehicle ($700 or less all in including repairs), come up with a team theme, drive it on a road trip while completing a scavenger hunt, and have fun.

This year there was not really funds or space to buy an additional vehicle but we did have a budget compatible Hyundai Elantra already. I had bought it for $1200 but recently someone had hit the front fender with their truck, wrinkling it but they gave us $500 in lei of having to fix it. Luckily this put us into the correct budget ballpark. I banged out the dent and it looks acceptable from ten feet away. As for a theme I figured the Elantra was silver and therefore looked pretty much exactly like the Delorean from the Back to the Future movie series provided one squinted really, really hard. The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it without any style.


There were additional points on the line if one had participated in a motor sport event with their beater. Fortunately, the previous summer my two older sons and I had done a few auto-x events. We even managed to finish lower mid pack despite having the most modest vehicle by far.

We now had to turn our Elantra into a time machine with basically no budget. I hatched a plan that involved an old bike rack and my favorite Beater Challenge building material, free dumpster plywood.

After a short time we had two vents plus a sort of tongue to help mount them. Several of the wood screws were re-used from previous year’s builds.

A lick of whatever paint I had lying around plus a Cadillac hubcap followed by tacking on a few bits that were in the garage and the rear exterior was set.

This is what makes simulated time travel possible — the flux crapisitor. It was also built with random bits and bobs. Sharp eyes will spot a few European style fuses, household electrical box, Toyota speedometer mechanical bits, edge trimmer engine bearing and trailer wiring which all went into this one.

Also on the inside we had an old radar detector (genuine Fuzzbuster II with simulated wood grain finish) and an older trailer brake controller. The time circuit panel was printed up with the 2023 GBC date as well as the date of the very first GBC in 2016.

A car with a special edition trim is worth a few extra points. Luckily our Elantra is a totally legit special edition.

The time machine external bits mounted up reasonably easy with some racket straps to hold it all to the bike rack.

We did a sealed beam headlight conversion with some electrical tape for that authentic Deloran look.

The rear tail lights were also brought into DeLorean specification with a similar technique. As a bonus they could help solve many electrical problems on route as needed.

The legitimate Delorean was produced by DMC, ours was sported a HMC badge.

We just need some extension cords attached to the side to complete the look.


My two younger sons would be coming along with me this year. Costume wise we went with two Marty McFlys and one Doc Brown.

The route was very similar the inaugural edition through the southern portion of British Columbia. For this year the title for the whole event was “Ode to a Paint Tray Hood Scoop” which was a nod to the very first year when our K-car sported a custom hood scoop in an attempt to stop over heating (it did not work).

Unfortunately, I do not have the original scoop but I did have the one from the second year as used on the Honda Civic so it made another appearance but with some extra time machine wiring.

That wraps up the conversion from budget commuter car to movie replica. In the installment we will meet the other teams.

The 2023 Great Beater Challenge Series

The 2023 Great Beater Challenge Series

Back to the Future (and the Challenge) – Vehicle Prep

The Teams

Day One Part One

Day One Part Two

Day Two