Immanuel Kant held that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be traveled. Isaac Newton held otherwise, as did Doc Brown, flux capacitor in tow. Much of my own time these past few years has been spent traveling; a failed drive to Colorado, a two-week drive through southern Utah, even a month on tour with my band. And now I find myself back in Colorado to visit family, staying with my dad again in the house where his wife of forty-eight years, and my mom for thirty-three of those, died eighteen months ago.
48 years. 33 years. 18 months. Where has the time gone?
Traveling, particularly by car, is something I grew up with in St. Louis, Missouri. Mom and dad took many cross-country trips before having my older brother and I, and largely kept up the tradition afterwards. A trip to Disneyworld in our 81 Caprice with mom’s co-worker/best friend Barb. Several trips to Colorado, which I loved, except the excruciatingly dull chunk in the middle known as “Kansas”. (I did, however, learn to highly appreciate night driving from Kansas. It’s an adaptation I employ to this day when covering old, tired ground.) So it was no surprise that dad wanted to spend a few days driving around the southern mountains of Colorado once I got here.
He pointed out the routes of most interest, and I interneted maps and hotel reservations for two nights. The first night was in Montrose, and the second was in a small hamlet called South Fork. I was at the wheel of the Camry, crossing long out of service railroad tracks towards the hotel when the DeLorean gleamed at me from in front of the office. My first thought was a replica, but the collector car plate disabused me of that notion.
Shortly after settling into our room, I went to the office to inquire about the wifi. The managers are a husband and wife team with two kids, and the wife, Dee, gave me the password. An hour later we decided to walk down the road to find some dinner. I went out first and stood by the Camry in time to see Dee open the infamous gullwing door of the DeLorean and climb in and drive off. Yes, it is Dee’s DeLorean. DeeLorean? Anyway, the engine was somewhat throaty and burbly, but pretty quiet. The suspension when she slowly crossed the two sets of railroad tracks was anything but quiet. Go out to your garage and quickly lift and then drop your toolbox. Pretty much what it sounded like.
During dinner, dad complained about the tiny tube tv in our room. The Cardinal game was coming on, and he’s used to hi-def on a 46 inch screen. I remembered seeing a large flat panel tv in the guest area of the hotel office, and suggested he inquire about using it. Success! We spent the next three hours watching the Cards win 4-3. A few innings in, Dee came by and built a fire in the large stone fireplace. I remarked at my surprise at being in a small mining town 8,200 feet in the Rockies and finding a DeLorean. She chuckled and took a seat and told me the tale.
Like a majority of the world, she became aware of the DeLorean watching “Back To The Future” as a young girl. The aluminum sliver struck her fancy, and she simply wanted one. The reality of the car (rarity, build “quality”, cost, etc.) was irrelevant. It was her Dream Car, and it remained her dream car ’til two Thanksgivings ago when her husband sniped one off Ebay as a surprise present. I didn’t even have to ask about the cost, she just offered: 15 grand.
Watching your own mom die has a profound effect on a person. What would I do differently if I could go back in time two years? What more would I say? What less? Would I even do it at all?
My own sands of time are slipping through the glass, just like all of us. I watched mom’s last grain slip through when she exhaled her final breath, at home and surrounded by family.
So now what? Time travel is not an option. The future is up to me, here and now. No shortcuts, no excuses. But…if I could go back. If I had that time machine. What would I do differently?
If you could go back, what would you do differently?
Very nutritious food for thought , Mike.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Mike. I lost my father a little over ten years ago in a similar way, so you bring back some bittersweet memories.
It is funny about the DeLorean. Without the Back to the Future movies, the car would have undoubtedly become an obscure footnote. But it has become one of the famouse failed cars ever, and will be forever remembered for its connection with time travel and the flux capacitor.
Doc Brown chose the DeLorean’s stainless steel body for its direct and influential effect on flux dispersal.
“Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?” “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”
DMC’s coming out with an electric DeLorean in 2013. Or is that 1913?
I wanna see that electric motor put into the rental DeLorean they have here — http://timemachinerental.com/ — that’s totally going green!
I enjoyed your post a lot.
Excellent Mike, truly excellent.
DeLorean – a decent idea in search of a great engine. But back to Mike’s question about doing things differently:
After having gone through many things in life (divorce and foreclosure among them) I take the words of Darius Rucker to heart in his song “This” –
I don’t really know how I got here
But I’m sure glad that I did
And it’s crazy to think that one little thing
Could’ve changed all of it
Maybe it didn’t turn out like I planned
Maybe that’s why I’m such, such a lucky man
For every stoplight I didn’t make
Every chance I did or I didn’t take
All the nights I went too far
All the girls that broke my heart
All the doors that I had to close
All the things I knew but I didn’t know
Thank God for all I missed
Cause it led me here to
“Cause it led me here to
Essentially what I thought while I stared at the car awhile. Here I am, right here and now in this tiny mountain hamlet. Also here and now is this car. Of all cars, THIS exact one.
Words keep failing me this past week, as we’re also experiencing the loss of a loved one here.
But I mightily enjoyed this article, it’s just perfect.
As for the question, it’s one I’ve often pondered. Inevitably, after thinking about it awhile the conclusion that “everything must be just as it is” seems irrefutable to me, no idea why really…
Existential thoughts aside… (I’d write pages probably so best not), NICE WRITE-UP!!
The exhaust had probably rotted out. Two sets of pipes and mufflers on 20+ year old rotted flanges will make lots of awful noise (ask me how I know), especially if the stupid thing sits THAT low, and then if the waffles inside the mufflers are shot, forget it. That would be the dropped toolbox sound effect right there. I wouldn’t be surprised if that exhaust had been serviced only once in the car’s lifetime and still sits on stock flanges and stuff. The “burbling” confirms my diagnosis (exhaust leak).
Hey, does anyone know what other car(s) it shared the pipes with?
I left out quite a lot of the discussion Dee and I had about the car. (Trivia about DeLoreans is often discussed, so I took the inspiration a different route.) Among many other details, she did mention that the car had been lowered (before she got it). So you’re probably correct regarding the crashing noises when going over bumps. It sounded fine once she took off down the road.
Enjoyed the piece. Lost my mom not long ago. If she had lived two more months she would have been 102. Sharp as a tack.
I worked in New Caney, Texas just north of Houston on US59. It may be the only town it’s size with two Deloreans. One sits in the showroom of ET motors which is a little used car lot on the 59 feeder road. I’m not sure who owns the second one. After I retired, I subbed for a while. One of the students fed me the story of his Delorean when he found I liked (and owned) old cars. He told me he had one and sure enough I ran across him arriving in it not long afterwards when I had parking lot duty. I thought it was nice to see a youngster that would rather drive that than a turboed Honoyta.
BTW people from Kansas say that Colorado is just Kansas with a few little zits in the field. I don’t live there anymore so won’t pursue that.
+1 Old cars rock, I hate the new stuff. The thing people seem to be forgetting a lot (those under 30 anyway) is that old cars run and handle and can be smooth and quiet (and reliable) just fine, but you just can’t expect any of that out of a bunch of 20+ year old components, especially if it’s all been neglected and beat to shreds by the previous 3 or 4 owners. It’s like audio speakers, 10 years and you pretty much no longer have it the way it’s supposed to be… 20 years? you gotta swap all the critical stuff or be stuck with a refrigerator on wheels.
With fresh stock components, I outright prefer the way old cars drive and feel (and look) to any new stuff within my lifetime price range.
For some reason, cars pull a lot of thoughts together, and your touching article caused a lot of reflection in me as well, because at 60, I’m no longer young, acting like a 17-year-old notwithstanding.
Seeing your parents slowly slip out of your life is hard, and no matter what anyone says, death is not a “natural” thing for humans, as we were never meant to die in the first place, but that’s a whole different discussion. I lost my dad in 1978, mom in 1993. Hardly a day goes by…you know the rest.
BTW, I’m also from the St. Louis area, originally on the north side – Walnut Park area until Ike took my parent’s house, then Jennings, then Florissant when I married. Now, for the last 19 years, we call the Cincinnati area our home. What part of town are you from?
The DeLorean was always a curious oddity to me, but being a pretty-much-sealed cabin with only tiny vents seemed a serious safety issue, plus I’m an open-window kind of guy, so I wouldn’t own one, but I liked the stainless steel skin, which was unique in so many ways. Too bad the company failed and too much stuff apparently went up DeLorean’s nose to boot.
Lived in St. Peters ’til about 9. Both parents worked at McDonnell Douglas back in the day. They saw the writing on the wall *cough Boeing cough* and decided to move to their dream destination of Colorado. That didn’t quite work, so Oregon became our next stop.
I’ve regarded myself as a Native Oregonian for years. A drive back to St. Louis (from Colorado, no less) last year did not persuade me to own up to my true heritage. *grin*
Most of our little club here are hardly youngsters. I lost my mom last year and my best friend this year. Watching your most trusted and dear friend slip away is not terribly pleasant. Being without parents is a weird feeling. But it is life.
These two losses had a different effect on me than one might think. It made me realise how fortunate I am to be fit, vibrant and healthy. I have a beautiful wife, three really cool kids, I live in a fantastic place and I have a cool car to drive. We do fun things regularly and we have money in the bank.
When my dad died in 1997 I was very upset for a long time. Now when a loved one dies, I am less so. This is because I see death as a part of life, just as how summer passes to fall, and then onto winter. New friendships will blossom, like our little group here. We can look back on the things we have lost and forward to the things we will enjoy. This is the only way I can make sense of the process of life and death.
Death is an interesting process because it is so final. It is an event we all have to deal with on a personal level. One way or another, we have to come to peace withing ourselves when such a traumatic event happens. I am not a great fan of “grief councilors” and other social parasites of their ilk because they only delay what you are going to have to deal with anyway, while dis-empowering you in the process. However, how one achieves peace is completely up to the individual.
And on that note, I have to shower, shave, eat and get ready for a twelve hour work day. A happy and vibrant family relies on me to keep them happy and vibrant.
“…we have to come to peace withing ourselves when such a traumatic event happens. I am not a great fan of “grief councilors” and other social parasites of their ilk because they only delay what you are going to have to deal with anyway, while dis-empowering you in the process.”
You don’t know how right you are, because the answer lies elsewhere, and the grieving process is different for everyone, without a set time limit.
Thanks for the nice comment and perhaps I don’t know how right I am. What I do know is that I know very little in the great scheme of things and nobody is going to stop me from having as much fun as I can.
Years ago I had a Hippie-Chick girlfriend come in an take over my existence. She had lost her husband at a very young age and she told me, “When you are grieving, you are grieving yourself, not the person you have lost.”
I had no idea what she meant until my dad died. When my mom died, I was almost instantly at peace. The long and short of it I had improved myself so much there was little to be sad about.
“If you could go back, what would you do differently?”
That’s a dangerous game to play right there..
After I lost pretty much everything back in 2008 I pondered that question heavily. All it did was feed anger to depression.
Not get married?
Stay at the cozy non union shop and make due with a bit less?
Pull a litle of the “nice guy” out of my persona?
And on, and on..
In the end it’s not about what you could have done, it’s about what you’re going to do that really makes a difference.
Even though I always knew about the DeLorean’s faults, I always wanted one. Just like Dee, it’s a dream car. The PRV V6 would have to be replaced though.. Maybe a Northstar or Aurora? Heck, a Rover/Buick V8 would even be a nice fit!
Now I’m wondering if the engines that work to be swapped into a Fiero would work in a DeLorean.
Quite true. No matter how much we want to, the past is unchangeable and gone forever. Especially when you have a tendency to the sadbrains, (like I do) it just becomes another way to beat yourself up.
I bought a DeLorean hotwheels for my niece, and ended up explaining to my sister DeLoreans in general. (She had seen a DeLorean in a junkyard near here and didn’t know anything about them aside from them being used as a time machine.) The styling still looks good, whatever else can be said about the car. Now I’m contemplating engine swaps, too…
Excellent story. I lost my mom 16 months ago, and yes, time goes by quickly! I have long wanted a DeLorean myself, but now that I have kids, that probably won’t happen. Here in the Seattle area, there are still DeLoreans on the road. We are home to DMC Northwest which is run by a former Boeing engineer who quit/retired to follow his passion of restoring DeLoreans.
I was having a windshield replacement done last year in the same building (an auto service business complex) so I went over and talked to the owner. Also in the same building is Bel-Kirk Mustang which has every single part you’ll ever need to keep your classic Mustang on the road. If you’re ever in Bellevue and have a few hours of extra time, it’s worth a stop to visit either/both.
My mother died in 1985, when I was 16. Tough at that age, but time heals, of course. My dad is still around and has remarried; as of this year, he and my stepmother have been married as long as my parents were. But it’s not my parents’ deaths I’m contemplating right now–an old friend of mine lost her husband suddenly a week ago; he had a heart attack and passed away on his drive home from work at the age of 40. They had just had their first child three months ago. Seems like only a few days ago (it was about 4 years ago) I was attending their wedding. To bring this back to the DeLorean post, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was reading the initial reviews of the DeLorean and how tail-heavy it was, which makes me think an engine swap might be dicey.
I can identify in several ways with your piece, Mike, being that I’m now the old fart in my family. That is a transition that will happen to most of us, and for all the emotional trauma associated with it, it is at least more the natural order of things than to lose a child. Also my daughter lived in Erie, Colorado for a couple of years so we became better acquainted with that part of the country.
DeLoreans, not so much. I see them around of course – if you go to a LeMay open house in August you’ll invariably see several in the parking lot. But they’re one of just a few cars I’ve just never had any interest in.
The Delorean was an interesting car (and still is) but I’ve never had the inclination to build one. However, it’s basic shape, though rounded in the hind quarters was used as inspiration for a kit car published I think by Mechanix Illustrated back in I think 1982 and used various parts, such as the flush taillights of the 1967 Impala where were set into the soft, rear bumper and was a conventional 2 door 2×2 hatch if I recall and used the turbine stile alloy wheels that were available on the aftermarket and the side marker lights were set into the recessed black groove and was pretty sharp looking too.
As for what I’d do if I were to redo it over would be to have figured myself out years ago (in a variety of ways) and be MUCH further along than I am now. At best I’ve ever earned was $30K a year for 2 months before loosing my job – and that was in 2005. Today, I make less than $13 an hour, but now have skills that can transcend that but need to fine tune what exactly I want to do and begin looking for better work.
I lost my Dad to pancreatic cancer in 1998 and my one remaining grandmother (maternal) in the early 90’s and my Mom is 79, will turn 80 in Dec and still is doing very well.
I have 2 sisters who have both survived cancer (brain), one is terminal but still lives a semi normal life, and the other sister’s wasn’t so it was treatable and so far, she’s been fine. I’m the youngest of my sibs (at 46) and thus this is a very real thing for us all.
So my goal now is to improve the job situation so I can actually AFFORD to pay bills, rent etc and have some funds left over for a little fun and take chances in life, which is why I’m set on buying that Fiat 500 if at all possible, cause, after all, life’s short and you only have one crack at it.
A cheap old hot car is maximum excitement per dollar. Nothing like it to put a smile on your face. I hope you can go for it soon.
(Yes, skeptics, I consider the Fiat 500 a hot car. Drive an old Fiat and you’ll understand.)
Been there, done that and drive an almost 20 YO truck now with lots of miles and will need to be replaced.
I’m so over cheap and old right now. Late model used or new is where I’m at and I don’t have a place to do that kind of wrenching anyway as I live in an apt and park on the street.
Still, that Fiat intrigues me and it’s new!
Oh yeah, “Fiat 500” means a new car now! 🙂
I used to see them around here, because the man who liquidated DMC lived a couple blocks away. That was a while back, and he passed a number of years ago, although his son still lives nearby.
I haven’t seen a DeLorean in years. As I recall, it a lot of issues. An underpowered Renault motor, and difficulty of doing body work, were just 2.
An outstanding reflection.
As it happens, a few days ago I was going through some old computer files…found an old essay I did for another blog, much the same sentiment. Something that day had taken me back…and when I got home, late that night, I’d just typed it out.
Not about cars except incidentally. I may submit it anyway…but I guess you could say, I’m amazed that you seemed to be reading my mood.
(cue up “100 Years”, by Five For Fighting)
OK, I see that the clue for this CC now has disappeared, but where on the DeLorean was the picture for the clue taken? Perhaps on the rear where the engine cover is?
You guessed correctly. I snipped it from the second to last picture. Click to embiggen. 🙂
Very nice article. Everyone has regrets and second-guesses the past, myself included. If you want to dwell on the past, remember the good times, not the bad ones. I had a major life-changing event about 15 years ago, and the net result was to consider every day a gift.
On the DeLorean front, we do have one in the area I see regularly at the cruise-ins. Its owner even has a homemade flux capacitor in it.
Good story, and thought provoking. Love the design of the DeLorean. I hope Dee gets a little more work done on hers before it’s too late.
What would I have done differently?…probably nothing as the benefit of hindsight is not an option we have.The past is in some ways as much of a mystery as the future so we must live in and value the present.
On a simple nuts and bolts level though I can think of a few car purchases I would have done differently …