The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

A car to take you back in time

Ryan Alter of Missoula says you don't drive a DeLorean if you aren't prepared to be noticed.

Alter, who owns the custom IT firm Alter Enterprises, Inc., came up to Ovando last Wednesday in his 1981 DeLorean DMC 12 to spend time with his former co-workers at the Blackfoot Challenge Block Party. Alter explained that he worked with Elaine Caton to develop the Challenge's trumpeter swan database, invented an automatic bear trap used by Jamie Jonkel, the bear specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and also worked with Seth Wilson, the Blackfoot Challenge's incoming executive director, back when he was the organization's wildlife specialist.

The car wasn't necessarily meant to be an attraction at the Block party, but Alter knows full well how the iconic stainless steel sports cars, with their distinctive gull wing doors and sleek wedge shaped body, tends to draw attention.

Anyone who's paid any attention to American pop culture since the 1980s will recognize the DMC 12 as the basis for a Doc Browns time machine in the "Back to the Future" movies, and Alter was ready for the inevitable photo requests, with a puffy orange vest, a multicolored plastic ball cap and a replica of the Hoverboard on hand for props. The DeLorean Alter drove to Ovando isn't a replica of the movies' time machine, he said he's taken it to comic cons in the past and had up to 2000 people a day ask to have their picture taken with it. That number is likely to increase. Alter has a second DeLorean he is converting to a replica of the time machine.

Despite being an unmodified DMC 12, it is nevertheless pretty unique as DeLorean's go. In addition to an automatic transmission rather a standard, and an all-black rather than gray, interior, Alter pointed out that it also has a feature coveted by DeLorean aficionados: a flap in the hood near the driver's side windshield for the gas cap. He said the cost of installing the caps there proved too costly and was abandoned fairly early on in the two years DeLoreans were built.

Alter explained the DeLorean is such an icon of the early 80's that even without the use of a flux capacitor, it has an ability to warp time in its own way.

"When you sit in it, you feel like you're in a time machine," he said. "You feel like you're in the 80's."


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