Towing with a DMC-12 Time Machine

A foundation of a time-traveling tow-truck does exist, but where's the flux capacitor and the Mr. Fusion?       
Photo Credit:

Its one of those days where I'm sitting here thinking about pie-in-the-sky ideas. I've been driving my wife Sarah nuts lately with thoughts that go absolutely nowhere. Such as the random thought that if I had access to a time machine, it would have to possess a large enough towing capacity to bring an old car back with me each time I defied the laws of physics. If there's anything that Back to the Future taught me, its that the DoLorean's main weakness was the lack of a trailer hitch.

Low and behold, someone in Washington state solved this problem by creating the world's only DeLorean tow truck. Check that website out, its one of the most bizarre sights you'll ever see. I applaud his efforts in stainless workhorse creation, but the car still needs the touch of Doc Emmet Brown and some time circuitry, otherwise how else would I be able to stockpile my favorite cars from yesteryear?

Think McFly, think! What started all of this crazy talk about DeLoreans?

My buddy Clint recently posted something that gave me pause on a Facebook picture of an old Detroit junkyard. Clint is a long-time car builder, machinist, mechanic and appreciates all types of cars from classic rides to turbocharged imports. I've known him since high school. He gets it, just as you & I do. The photo he commented on was taken sometime during WWII.

Here it is below.

Photo Credit: The HAMB

Clint wrote:  "I want to go there. Fire up the DMC."

Thinking more about this subject, I concluded that I would love to snag Doc Brown's plutonium-powered DeLorean DMC-12 time machine from Marty McFly and go back in time to when so much style and thought went into everyday items such as pencil sharpeners, tractors, and the family car.

I'm also a materialistic self-indulgent type, so I'd want to bring home a few mementos of my trips through time.  So its time to throw a trailer hitch on that DMC-12 and bring back a few beauties with zero miles on them. These acquisitions would not be for monetary gain, although I'd imagine a showroom-fresh Deusenberg Model J would rock the house at Barrett-Jackson. Instead, I'd do it just to have a nice corral of vintage cars that I couldn't afford today, and skip the aging process that they'd otherwise endure naturally.

In an effort to prepare for such an impossible project, I've compiled a list of 5 automotive specimens that I'd load onto a U-Haul car trailer and yank behind the DMC-12. I know that the DeLorean's Peugeot-sourced 2.8 liter V-6 would have one heck of a time towing some of these home, but as long as we get to 88 miles per hour, I think we're golden. Here's my list.

A Short List of Cars I'd Be Willing to Disrupt the Space-Time Continuum For


5. 1940 / 1953 GM Futurliner

Photo Credit:

These massive streamlined "Futurliner" (not a typo) trucks were designed for General Motors' Parade of Progress, or traveling automotive displays, by legendary designer Harley Earl. Like most every automobile he designed, he knocked it out of the park with these behemoths in 1940. Powered originally by a 4 cylinder diesel, they received a makeover for the 1953 parade as well as new GMC-sourced 302 cubic inch inline six cylinder engines. GM used these to display new automotive technologies that would make our future motoring experience better, safer, and more efficient. After they toured the show circuit in 1956, GM retired and sold the 12 trucks and they all met a series of fates. Some were eventually restored, others turned into advertising props, and another was used as a stage for Oral Roberts Ministries. One restored Futurliner recently fetched north of $4 million on the auction block, so the remaining 9 or so today are highly prized.

Two Futurliners as seen from US Route 41 in North Chicago, early 2000's       Photo Credit:

The personal connection I've got with these is that I used to commute to work on US-41 about 13 years ago, and noted concept car collector Joe Bortz had somehow acquired a few of these old things and used to store two of them in a gravel lot just off the road in North Chicago. I pulled off the highway more than once on my way to work to stare at the 11-foot tall, 33-foot long monsters, and wonder what would become of them. The $4 million dollar restored model? I believe that one is the red one pictured in the front in the above photo. What a herculean restoration effort I'm sure that took. Another was painstakingly restored by a group and documented on the wonderful website and its well worth a read if you'd like to learn more about these machines. With such a unique truck, owning one of these would make the ultimate statement: I'm large, and in where is the nearest gas station?

I just leaned that the Futurliner tips the scales at 13 tons, so I may need to throw some nitrous on the DeLorean to get it up to 88 with this behind it.


4. 1930 Chevrolet Universal Phaeton

This fine example of the Phaeton was on display at a recent VCCA Meet. It appeared perfectly capable of a long trip through the country. Photo Credit: Throwin' Wrenches

Why a 1930 Chevrolet? Because in my mind, this is as elegant as Chevrolet got. I know some will say a dressed-up '32 Confederate Coupe, or '41 Special DeLuxe Cabriolet would take that honor...and you'd be right to say that those cars were equally stylish. To me, the clean lines of a '29 or '30 Chevrolet with those giant headlamps and full disc wheels have an air of Cadillac or Packard to them. There's not a lot of trim to distract your eyes from the paired-down design. The phaeton body style allows for a large group of friends or family to join in the open-air fun and the car would surely give a supple ride. Powered by a 194 cubic inch inline six, this car would sip fuel and have plenty of torque for rolling hills. I'd be proud to own one if I could fit it on the trailer.

3. 1970 Datsun 240Z

The 1970 Datsun 240Z     Photo Credit: Motor Trend

A friend of mine, Jay and his brother both dabbled with a few Z-cars in high school, and ever since then they have appealed to me. With inline six-cylinder power and independent rear suspension, the 240Z made their US debut in 1970 and looks-wise didn't get better thanks to larger 5 mile per hour bumpers and larger tail lamps as the decade wore on. Still, the sloped nose and short tail meant the car was not for a family, it was a true sports car. A 2.4 liter six-cylinder brought the 2,300 pound car up to speed with just 151 horsepower, and the chassis made it hug the road better than most competitors of the time. While they didn't have the unrefined power that a big-block Corvette had, the Datsun Z models appeared as a smarter alternative to GM's sports car. Its still a smart buy today, if you could get one without major structural rust. That's why I'd go back to 1970 to get a solid one fresh off the boat from Hiratsuka.

2. 1954 Buick Roadmaster Skylark

Here's why the '54 Skylark matters, those tailfins are sculpture any way you slice it.    Photo Credit: Throwin' Wrenches

While the 1953 Roadmaster Skylark gets the attention of many classic car aficionados, its their sophomore effort that would find its way onto the teleporting trailer and into my garage today. Buick's celebrated 'factory hot rod' Skylark convertible was plopped onto a new chassis for 1954 with smaller dimensions. The result was a stubby rear end with radically different styling and giant chrome tail lamps that the public didn't go for. In fact, most of the folks disliked the redesign so much that Buick killed the Skylark name after the '54 cars came out until they recycled it for their new 1961 intermediate series. What appeals to me is the rear end, the Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, and the 322 "Nailhead" under the hood. I liken a '54 Skylark to a beautiful Chris-Craft Cadet: A well-crafted package with tight lines with some muscle hiding underneath its skin. With only 836 built, its rare to come across one today, so that's why I'd plot a course to 1954 and head to the nearest Buick dealership for a test drive under an alias.

1. 1953 Cadillac Eldorado 

The long, luxurious Eldorado.      Photo Credit:
Words cannot describe my feelings for the first-year Eldorado. Much like my 5th pick, this flagship model was penned by GM design chief Harley Earl. The Eldorado, or "gilded one" was part of a trio of special convertible models that year, the others being the Buick Skylark, and Oldsmobile Fiesta. But this model, especially when finished in Alpine White, showcases low-slung design with a wrap-around windshield and nearly every option in the catalog...standard. The 331 cubic inch V-8 could haul all 5,000 pounds of Cadillac around, but wouldn't win any races. This car is all show and no go...and I'm okay with that. Heck, the Eldorado was good enough for Dwight D. Eisenhower to cruise around in 1953.

With only 532 models assembled that year, these cars don't come up for sale much today. Completely restored, the "Eldos" commonly command top dollar, and even basket cases are known to sell for $20,000 and up. The Eldorado is the automotive equivalent of a slice of French silk pie. Its stunning, its grandiose, and its way too rich to be enjoyed...nevertheless you crave it. Above all, this would be the one car that I'd go back in time for.

Honorable Mentions, Should the Plutonium Supply Hold Out

-1916 Chevrolet 490 Touring

-1939 Mercury Eight Sport Convertible

-1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Pace Car

-1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429

-1987 Buick GNX

"What happens to us in the future? What, do we become a-holes or something?" -Marty McFly

Photo Credit: National Geographic
Old stuff is cool, and now you know what vintage tin I'd scope out. Some of you, however, may be wondering if I'd leap ahead to the future to see what people would drive in the year 2525, if man is still alive*. Well, I'm a pessimist at heart, so I really don't think we'll have anything exciting or collectable in the years to come. As I grow older, the more discouraged I get with the automotive industry's offerings. Sure, there's exceptions. The new Corvette ZL-1 is amazing. The newer offerings from Audi such as the A7 and Jaguar lineup gives me some hope.

As for the modern everyday ride, technology has trumped the overall driving experience. A Chevy Sonic with Pandora-equipped entertainment systems and in-car Facebook updates are more important than how much horsepower the engine makes or what your car looks like. I believe we'll soon have automated driving appliances rather than automobiles. It'll all work out as its supposed to, I assume. Automated cars would leave us with more time to blog about old cars on the way to work. That could come in handy. For now, I'm going to stick with going back in time instead of back to the future.

How about you, what would you bring back with you if you borrowed the DMC-12 time machine tow rig? Leave a comment and share your "Top 5" picks.


*Didn't think you'd get to read a Zagar & Evans reference today, did you? 


  1. Just five?!?
    Impossible. And I can't supply pics, thanks to being the only person alive still on dial up.Just as well, I get frustrated and offline, which means back to the shop sooner.. I'll try.
    1) 1953 Corvette. Not because of its value, just because it was such an awesome little car that started the ball rolling for one of my infatuations- the Fiberglass Wonder. And to add to its good looks, it was powered by my favorite engine of all time, the 235 inline six. The Powerglide is a minor detraction. If I win the lottery, I'm buying two of them- one to drive and one to drool over.
    2) One word- Tucker. Why? It was a failure, parts would be outrageously expensive, and you'd be scared to drive it because of its value. But it is an incredibly sexy car, to me anyway, and I've been fascinated with it every since I learned that one was driven regularly in my county "back in tha day" Another outrageous ride I 'd drive constantly regardless of the value
    3) Auburn. Any year, any bodystyle. An absolutely beautiful car. We have one- a roadster- in a local musuem that I cry every time I see it. That beautiful old girl should be driven not locked up in jail....
    4) Mid to late 30's Packard sedan... Was there ever more class than what was displayed by Packard, with that beautiful upright grille? I think not. Even today, the sight of one screams money and good breeding. That, and incredible lust for me. I'd take mine black, of course, preferably a 1937 model. Any options or other details, such as engine size, are negotiable.
    5) 1928-31 Model A. What?!? A lowely A on the same list as these other, arguably higher class automobiles? Yes. Although I'm not usually a Ford fan, Henry Ford knocked it out of the park with the T's replacement. They are simply beautiful, everyone over 50 has a story involving one, they are inexpensive, and simple. One day, Rusty the '46- my beloved '46 Chevrolet pick up- will have to share his tiny shop with an "A". While I'd probably prefer a coupe or a little closed cab pickup, family requirements dictate a sedan. Or a tub. Who am I kidding, I'll take the first one that crosses my path when I've got the means to acquire it...

    And great Blog. Glad to have found it!

    1. Wow, thanks Bob for the kind words & for sharing your great list of cars. A first-year Corvette, Tucker, Auburn, Packard and Model A sound like a nice collection to me. I wholeheartedly agree that the Tucker is a sexy car that would be a blast to drive around in, no matter its value in today's market. Hope you'll find that nice Model A sedan to keep Rusty company. I'm sure they would look nice on a family Christmas card someday. Have a great holiday and stay in touch. Keep up the great work on your Facebook page!


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