The DeLorean isn’t coming back. And Mr. Fusion was never here.
The car that was the star of the Back to the Future movies was a stainless-steel-bodied gullwing coupe designed by John DeLorean, a former GM engineer and executive who was among those responsible for developing the 1964 Pontiac GTO, the car many consider to be the first muscle car and which without question inspired the creation of the dozens of other muscle car concept-emulators that followed.
The car just unveiled by the current owners of the DeLorean name is a gull-winged electric car. Which means it is just the same as every other electric car and thus – unlike the original car created by the man, DeLorean – it isn’t anything new.
When DeLorean – the actual guy – designed the 1981 car that bore his name, gullwing cars were exotic . . . like the Benz 300 SL of the ’50s. And stainless-steel-bodied unpainted cars, unheard of. No one had done both before and so the result was not only new – it was unlike anything else.
It is what made the 1981-1982 DeLorean stand apart from the crowd.
Also the man, who is among the few who spent their working years designing cars whose names are remembered today.
The car being produced under the DeLorean name is, however, merely an imitator of the audacious original. Sans the audacity. It is of a piece with the use of another brilliant man’s name – Nikola Tesla – to sell cars that are not powered by free energy or wirelessly transmitted electricity. Like the “new” DeLorean, Tesla – the car – is just a rebranding of a pre-existing thing.
Right down to the font.
Back in ’81, DeLorean spelled out his name in the car that bore his name’s grill, using backwards-forwards elongated and scrunched lettering that was as distinctive in its look as the car, itself, looked.
Today? It’s just another reboot.
It all begins to seem the same – again.
Adulatory press coverage, of course – even by the automotive press, once manned (exactly the proper term) by men who knew cars and could smell bullshit better than the average man. The current man who heads up the company that bears the name of the man says: “The Alpha5 is for people that love to drive.”
Really? In what way, exactly?
There is not much driving to be done in any electric car, which requires next to no driving – beyond the pushing of an On button and the pushing down upon a ”gas” pedal that feeds data about the degree of pushing to computers that cause the electric motor to spin faster.
Not much to do – nothing to hear. It sounds like time for a nap.
There is about the same degree of “driving” going on inside an electric car as inside an electric elevator. Plus also the indisputable fact that electric cars are connected cars – and not just to their physical umbilicus, the power cord. There is also the telemetry connection. The sending and receiving of new programming – of “updates” – which is what ultimately controls the electric car. The end goal being total control, re-branded more appealingly as “autonomous” or “self-driving” . . . driving.
Meat-sacking, in other words.
Leaving that aside – as well as the “skateness” of all electric cars, which differ only in size and shape, having the same underlying function – there is another thing this car has in common with all electric cars.
It its exorbitant cost – which will apparently be in the range of $175,000 – putting this car far out of the price range of almost all men (and women, too). It is three times-plus the inflation-adjusted cost of the actual DeLorean, back in ’81 – which was around $40,000.
The man who designed it had trouble selling his cars – because $40,000-plus was a lot of money back in ’81. And back then, gas was only about $1 per gallon.
His company eventually went bust – because back in ’81, the government wasn’t forcing people to buy his cars, nor bribing others to buy them. The man ended up being “busted” for desperately trying to transform arbitrarily illegal “drugs” into cash, in order to save the company that bore his name. The company that bears the man’s name now uses government to transform other people’s money into revenue.
It’s apparently a more successful – because legal – business model.
The Alpha 5 – as the car that bears the name of the real McCoy is styled (it’s interesting to observe the correlation between the currently fashionable uber-macho brand-marketing of vehicles and the general decline in actual alpha-ness) goes a lot faster than the 88 MPH speed the movie car needed to achieve in order to travel through time. But – like the actual car used as the basis for the movie car – it actually goes only as far as the “fuel” it stores in its “tank” – which is of course its battery pack.
The car in the movie relied upon the conversion of almost anything into fuel – via Mr. Fusion, the small reactor that could be fed beer, banana peels, half-eaten burgers and other table scraps and thus disconnected the car from any kind of centrally-controlled connection, virtual as well as physical and financial.
One of the may key allures of the car in the movie was that it was free – literally – in terms of what you needed to make it go. So long as you had some beer, banana peels, half-eaten burgers, left-over salad (and so on) you were free to go – without any charge.
Now something like that would be new – and more in keeping with the using of the names of great men like DeLorean and Tesla.
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