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Great Scott! Branson Auctions brings movie(-ish) magic to MO with a damn-near perfect BTTF DeLorean

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On: Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 3:56PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Great Scott! Branson Auctions brings movie(-ish) magic to MO with a damn-near perfect BTTF DeLorean

When it comes to car-nerd-ery, I’m a 100-percent Christine Plymouth person, but I can see the appeal in owning a sorta-kinda Back to the Future DeLorean like the one not sold at Branson Auctions’ Spring (April 11-12) 2014 sale in—you guessed it—Branson, MO.

These kinds of cars seem to run a traditional route from private listings to eBay Motors and then to places like this, a medium-sized real-time auction in the Midwest. Heck, you can even buy one “new” from several places that I will mention later. And apart from the $541k—yes, you read that right—one-and-only authentic-and-in-private-hands movie-used DeLorean extant, there's a pretty established market with an equally-established average price.

At $62,500 this lot was smack where it should have been price-wise. Why didn’t it sell? I can only assume—as I will in a second—but I'm cool with that if you are. As for now, know this: I think that the owner of this BTTF replica would like to go back in time, take that bid and run. Then again, that would mean his DeLorean time-machine actually works, which would make even half-a-million bucks seem worth less than .01 jigawatts…

[Italicized model info set within quotations is taken directly from the auction company’s own information, printed, online or otherwise. Cars are listed in the order of their predicted sale date. Also, ALL photos except #2 were taken—as indicated—from other sites.]

Lot 553 “1981 DeLorean” [$62,500 no-sale]

“The “Back to the Future” trilogy is one of the most iconic movie series of the past 30 years. And the one thing that everybody remembers from those movies? The DeLorean time machine built by Doc Brown, of course! Prominently featured in all three films, the DeLorean has become one of the most recognized movie cars of all time. Only six DeLoreans were used in the filming of the movies and only one of those six is in public hands (the remaining cars are still owned by the studio). This replica features every detail exactly as it was in the movie including the Flux Capacitor, time circuits, Mr. Fusion, smoke machine, and even a replica of the clock on the dash. The car runs and drives extremely well. Nothing on the road anywhere will get this much attention!”

It seems that despite all our advances in vehicular technology—like hydrogen-powered and autonomous (self-driving) vehicles—we are lagging WAY behind where the filmmakers thought we’d be back in 1985. Consider: the “future” to which they travelled in BTTF Part II—released in 1989—was October 21,2015. Do you think we’ll have a "Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor" or “hover conversions” in the next 19 months? Um… no. We won’t even have bar-coded license plates by then!

Then again, this replica doesn’t have any of those things, despite what the auction text says. As you can see from the images I’ve provided, the “Mr. Fusion” looks like a giant white shark fin stuck atop the rear of the engine compartment. And while I can’t—or just won’t because it’s boring for both of us—go through the many, many variations of BTTF DeLoreans, it’s as plain to see that there’s no such device on this car as it is to see that it doesn’t have locomotive wheels.

[Ironically enough, that’s one of the few commercially-available bits of kit as it’s a Krups "Coffina" model coffee grinder with a sticker on it (plutonium not required).]

NOTE TO BRANSON BTTF BUILDER: Whilst looking in my pantry for something wholly unrelated, I discovered that I actually OWN one of the aforementioned Krups grinders (see photo)! So if you’re the guy who built the Mr. Fusion-free DeLorean at Branson and want to bump-up your future bid prices by making your machine more authentic, send a note and we’ll talk turkey. [Actually, if you’re ANYONE who wants a Krups coffee grinder/Mr. Fusion for ANY reason, let’s run the numbers; this isn’t exactly the highest-paying career around…]

Anyhoo, as with any modified vehicle, the chances that you’ll get your money back when you sell it is slim to none. Movie cars can be the exception—like any 1958 Plymouth is worth more when it’s painted Christine red—but the “value” of a car that’s famous for its gadgets—like a James Bond-ish Aston-Martin, Ghostbusters’ ’59 Cadillac ambulance or BTTF DeLorean—is based on the quality and completeness of its film-specific, non-OEM bits.

[As I’m limited to what I can see in the photo provided by the auction company, it’s hard to tell anything about what is or isn’t recreated here. But if the car I found images of on the web is this car—pure supposition on my part—then it looks pretty damn authentic, down to the one-digit-too-many California license plate. But the “lack” of a Mr. Fusion is only correct in one instance, and that’s on the “original” BTTF movie-style DeLorean. And it then should technically have a “lightning rod” fitted instead, unless it's a replica of the "mall parking lot" DeLorean, in which case... You know what? Forget it. It is what it is, people. This isn't aBTTF message board, and I'm already ashamed enough about my encyclopedic knowledge of this trilogy's ultimate prop(s).]

Back to semi-reality, according to the pre-owned/for sale part of the website for DMC—the official/unofficial continuation of the company—prices for a quality stock DeLorean range from $31,500 to $54,000, depending on year, condition, etc., while eBay Motors’ sold listings tend to hover on either side of $20k.

[Incidentally, most price guides say that prices on the average, a “#2” (well-kept and ready to roll) DeLorean—of which 8,583 were produced from 1981 to 1983—should range between $14,500 and $24,500, so it seems eBay’s is the “truer” bet.]

BTW, the original MSRP—$25k in 1981—of a DMC-12 would be almost $65k today, so you can see just how high the price of a DeLorean was then, and why it was such a hard sell. You can also see why it makes so much sense for people to create BTTF replicas, as the darned things hold (relatively) little-to-no comparative value in “stock” configuration.

Speaking of which, if we assume that the builder of this “homage” started with the absolute best DeLorean the folks actually at DMC had—one somewhere in the $50k+ category—and subtracted that from the top bid here, that would mean that, at minimum, bidders were valuing all the custom parts and labor at around $13k. But I’m willing to bet that this true-to-fake-life vehicle’s creator—even if it was one of the "professionals" I'll get to in a sec—started with a twenty-grand car and spent at least that on researching, engineering, fabbing and installing everything that makes this car so desirable to just about anyone, be they Back to the Future, DeLorean or just regular car fans.

And while I’m pretty sure the no-sale $62.5k would cover the build cost—you can find these, naturally, at places like deloreansforsale.com, including one that looks almost just like this for under $50k or can order them built “from scratch” by notable builders like deloreantimemachines.com for a few (or three) grand more—this is one of those typical gotta-have-it-now-type deals, wherein the buyer can’t wait the weeks or months it would take to get another constructed (even if that one was better, more accurate, etc.), so they’re willing to pay more “up front” to take it home right away.

Speaking of paying more, according to auction firm Profiles in History’s site, seven cars were used over the three films, and only three still exist (contrary to Branson’s info). This meant the firm apparently sold one-third of the entire “real” BTTF fleet at its sale in 2011, and seeing as how the winning bid price was $541,200, I’m willing to bet that there’s more than one propmaster in Hollywood kicking him- or herself for not doing whatever it took to take home any of the original “Doc Brown” DeLoreans.

[Though a letter from “Kevin Pike, Special Effects Supervisor and Delorean [sic] Time Machine Builder for Back to the Future” submitted a letter to authenticate the accuracy of the creations of another “professional” replica builder—BobsPropShop—so it seems as though you can “officially” get pretty close to the real thing for nearly half-a-million bucks less. And Bob’s doesn’t just offer DeLoreans; they’ll build (or rent) you a Knight Rider KITT, an A-Team Van, the aforementioned Ghostbusters Caddy re-pop and more!]

That same regret, of course, is even more painful for the props department that turned 24 1958 Plymouths into the 17 cars used in the movie only to see three survive. Sure, the number of "real" cars is the same, but you can't find a '58 Plymouth Belvedere Hardtop repop on every streetcorner. Hell, the “Christine” at the freaking LeMay—the self-dubbed “America’s Car Museum”—isn’t even one of the real three! [It is an authentic “publicity tour” car, but still…]

So forget going back to the Branson sale. I want that thing to go back to 1983 and grab up all those “Christines”, regardless of what condition they were in. They might not be worth as much as the plutonium it would burn going back-and-forth in time over and over to shepherd them all safely to today, but seeing as how I already have that Mr. Fusion “prototype” just sitting in my kitchen cabinet, it might just be doable…

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