We Actually Bought A DeLorean

We’ve bought the coolest car in the world
Imthishan Giado

Our Delorean DMC12 

I own a DeLorean. An actual, real one. This one, in fact. That’s sitting in my garage this very minute. It feels absolutely bloody, goddamn surreal. If surreal were a zipcode on Mars, in another galaxy, in a faraway dimension, that is.

Reading this, I imagine you have many questions. Where does it come from? How did I find it here in the UAE? Does it run properly? Is it as bad as the legend persists? Does it have a flux capacitor? (I get that one a lot.)

Our Delorean DMC12

Really though, there’s only one question that matters. Why would I buy a DeLorean? We’re nearly the same age. She – of course it’s a she – was born in September 1981, and I’m about to turn 35. So I’m far too young to have been around when this car emerged into the pop culture zeitgeist, blazed across the automotive landscape and then blinked out like a dying star.

I’m also too young to have seen Back To The Future, of course. A mere five years old when Robert Zemeckis’s time travel classic came out, it’s etched itself into the history books, a magical, perfect film that is truly blessed lightning in a bottle. Not only did it make a star of Michael J Fox and Lea Thompson, it permanently etched a failed, forgotten automobile that was one man’s crazy dream into the hearts of millions of people around the world.

Our Delorean DMC12

Act 1: Wait, you haven’t seen back to the future?

No, I didn’t see the first film first. We didn’t watch movies in the Giado household – we were bookworms, through and through. Not to say that I didn’t imbibe; TV, that was our poison of choice. And I lapped up every super vehicle show the 80s churned out: StreetHawk, Airwolf, Knight Rider….admit it, you’re hearing the theme songs just reading those titles.

But not movies. That lasted until the early ‘90s when satellite television came to the UAE. Suddenly, through the miracle of STAR TV, we were awash in uncensored programming…which meant…Baywatch. Still we were suddenly watching a lot more TV, with a lot more interest.

And that’s how I ended up on Abu Dhabi 2 early one Ramadan morning, flipping channels, waiting for Suhoor to start – and coming across the last twenty minutes of Back To The Future Part II. Only the penultimate chase through the tunnel, mind; to a 12-year old brain, it was absolute nirvana. A plucky hero, an eccentric scientist father figure, a totally hateable villain, a mind-blowingly cool car – that could fly! – and the mother of all cliffhangers.

Our Delorean DMC12

How had I never seen this before! How could that be? I had to find the third part and find out what happened next. Did Marty find Doc again? Did they ever get back to 1985?

You know that they did; unfortunately I wouldn’t for another two years. I searched high and low, but our capital’s video shops were more interested in renting cam-copies of Demolition Man, not some obscure ‘80s film. Then, a twist.

“Look,” said the video store manager, “I don’t have the third one, but I do have the first one…”

Faster than jumping jiminy cricket, I snatched the tape out of his hands and bolted home. Popping it into my aged VCR, I squealed with delight at the sight of those iconic credits…and then grew puzzled as the film played out. Silently. Very silently.

Our Delorean DMC12

Act 2: Piracy is very, very bad

Turns out, this was the absolute, shittiest copy of Back To The Future that money could rent. The print was so dark it must have been shot with a pinhole camera, the colors were faded to nearly black and white, and the sound so muted Spinal Tap’s amplifier couldn’t save it. In short, it was a horrendous experience.

Yet it didn’t matter. I watched that crap tape about five times in a row, and then when I finally got my paws on a copy of the third film from a hapless friend, I didn’t return it for two years. As a matter of fact, the only reason I gave it back was because he had to leave the country!

Our Delorean DMC12

So I’m a true BTTF geek. I’ve memorised every scene, every note, every line, and most of all, by God, I wanted that goddamn car. I wanted to be Marty, to escape this pedestrian experience and fly to strange futures and familiar pasts. But how would I ever find one? Me, a mere Sri Lankan, so far away in the dusty Middle East. It seemed impossible.

Well, to quote another famous film character, “life finds a way.” Was it really four years ago that I first saw this car at the Emaar Classic on the Burj Boulevard? You probably saw it too. The generous owner – of the magnificent Tomini Classic Collection – chatted with me, while occasionally letting people sit in chassis #3899. I must have spent four hours standing there, sometimes transfixed, sometimes acting as a unofficial tour guide. To one car. I left with one phrase: “let me know if you’ll ever sell it.”

It was a foolish thing to say really. How could I afford such a mint condition vehicle – just 10,000km on the clock? We eventually shot it, but to actually own it – what a foolish dream. I’ve visited Tomini many times since, always keeping an eye on the DeLorean on the corner..hoping somehow, someway, it would be mine.

Our Delorean DMC12

Act 3: When you wish upon a star

Now let’s smashcut to this year. To a smoky shisha café in faraway Tokyo, where I sat on holiday, contentedly puffing away on a grape-mint. My reverie was broken by a friend’s inquiring Facebook message: have you seen this DeLorean on Dubizzle?

Yes, the same car. #3899. And it was for sale. At a price that didn’t immediately make my head spin.

I honestly don’t remember much after that. I remember sending an email to my Tomini contacts and making an appointment to see the car. I remember landing in Dubai’s hot, muggy summer evening, sleeping for six hours and then driving straight across to view the car. I remember taking one look and agreeing to buy it without so much as knowing if it even ran. Nope, not even a test drive.

Now, you might think me mad. What a risk! But honestly, it wasn’t. I believe that every car has a soul, and as soon as I walked onto that shiny showroom floor and laid eyes on this stainless steel-wrapped goddess….well, it’s like we were two starcrossed lovers, reunited across time and space. There was never even the slightest question, the slightest hesitation. It waited for me patiently all these years, and now I had to step up and prove myself worthy of its faith.

Our Delorean DMC12

The rest is of course, details. No, don’t ask me how much it cost! A man must have some secrets, and the value of these cars go up every day as fewer survive to the next. Not that I intend to cover it in cling film and preserve it my underground vault. No, I’m going to share it with all of you. It’s going to drive around Dubai, it’s going to be fully documented, it’s going to be driven every day, and it’s going to prove that John DeLorean’s impossible vision can survive and prosper in 2015.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering? The first time I drove it was after having handed over a considerable sum of cash. That’s a brave moment – had my gamble been foolhardy? Not at all; the DeLorean started up first time, ran beautifully and the air conditioning absolutely froze my ass off on the trip home. Though it’s a 34-year old sportscar, to drive it’s no more taxing than a modern coupe. And impossibly cooler, impossibly characterful.

As far as I’m aware, this is the only DeLorean in the UAE. There are a few more scattered around the GCC in various private collections – I know of at least two that survive in Oman. Believe it or not, DeLoreans were officially imported to Kuwait and the UAE in 1982. Almost all have since departed for Europe and the US; #3899 is an American import, and the clever amongst you will be to easily look up its history.

Our Delorean DMC12

Act 4: Your future is whatever you make it

I still don’t actually believe it’s mine. Some days I wake up and wonder if a man will come to take it away. Some days I wonder if I’m living a dream. If the dream looked exactly like reality, how would you know which was real, and which was the dream?

But in my dreams, the future looks a whole lot brighter.

Very special thanks to Isidora Bojovic Photography for these stunning images – check out her website to see more from this amazing portfolio

Thanks to Tomini Classics for making this story possible!

4 responses to “We Actually Bought A DeLorean”

  1. Roger says:

    Imagine what other vehicles Delorean Motor Company may have made in an alternate timeline in which the company prospered!

  2. Douglas says:

    You did an amazing job with these images, absolutely love the DeLorean! I’ve been enjoying mine since ’96. I created a brand inspired from the passion I drive everyday. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

  3. I do not know of child of the 80s who has seen Back to the Future and not wanted a Delorean.
    I even dreamed of owning one of my own.. specifically a BTTF one.
    I know that with age comes certain sensibilities and soon you realise that driving around in an actual BTTF customer car isn’t ideal.
    But name one guy who can say No to a car with jet thruster in the back.. haha…

    The PRV is wheezy asthmatic hack; barely worth the DMC’s sporting looks. But this engine has a sporting pedigree. Although I would go with exchanging it for an Alfa V6 like JZD wanted.
    I planned to build my own version of the BTTF car.. something that made the vents functional as well as aesthetically beautiful..
    the plan was to get DMC shell and an EV-ER using jet turbines to extend the range just like Jag’s new supercar.
    The interior would be customised to give it a bit of class. I wanted the BTTF LEDs on the car so that when it hit 140kph, they would light up.. that if anyone sees me in the rear view mirror it will look like they’re being chased by a UFO.

    But I scrapped the idea for something more classier and almost unheard of… the Mach 5 from the 1993 Speed Racer series.

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