What you don’t fully anticipate about driving a DeLorean is the jokes.
Sure, you expect some stares. You expect some “Back to the Future” chit-chat. But, great Scott, the joking movie references.
“Better keep it under 88 mph!” “It’s got 1.21 gigawatts under the hood, right?” “Does that thing even need roads?”
Oakdale resident Joshua Tigner has heard them all, and then some, in his five years of owning a DeLorean just like the one in the time-traveling Michael J. Fox trilogy. Interest, and jokes, have gotten particularly heavy recently with the arrival of the so-called Back to the Future Day. Wednesday marked the date Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to in the future in the second film in the franchise. Nostalgia for the series and all its futuristic predictions has become an international phenomenon and locally groups and theaters are screening the films.
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Tigner brought his DeLorean out for the day to help promote his church’s free screening Wednesday evening of “Back to the Future Part II,” the installment set on Oct. 21, 2015. The event is part of a effort by the congregation at Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene to do more community outreach and host more family events. When talk of doing something tied to the films came up, Tigner offered his car.
“When people think of church they think of going there and hearing a sermon,” he said. “But that’s not what it’s really about. Something like this shows we’re about family. So when the idea came up I said, ‘Hey, I just happen to have a DeLorean.’ ”
Though that makes it sound a little like Tigner just happened upon the car in a field and decided to take it home. Instead, the 31-year-old has been a lifelong fan of the films – having worn out all three of his VHS tapes from the movies when he was younger. He remembers, despite being only 5 years old at the time, going to see Part II in what is now the Regal theater up on McHenry when it came out in 1989.
“When I was a kid, I never knew what the car was. I thought it was just a time machine,” Tigner said. “But when I got older I thought it would be neat to have one.”
Neat is an understatement, especially on a week like this. People stop and ask to take pictures with the car. People stop to talk excitedly about the car. One guy on Highway 99 on Wednesday morning screeched his car to slow down while passing Tigner and his DeLorean and proceeded to film him – while they were both speeding down the freeway – with an iPad.
“I was like, it’s cool you want to take a video, but please don’t destroy my car,” he laughed. “People remind me all the time that I own a movie car.”
Tigner parked the DeLorean at Oakdale Family Church throughout the day Wednesday to raise awareness about the free community screening. He also filmed a fun promo, using the car, with his pastor that was shown during a service and posted on the church’s Facebook page.
People pulled into the church parking lot throughout the day to gawk and snap photos of the car. Parents posed their kids – most far too young to have been alive when the movies were released – in front of its iconic stainless steel body. Tigner was happy to let people open its famously winged doors and pop into the driver’s seat. Many reveled in the sentimental thrill of seeing a car that was so cool from their childhood.
Oakdale resident Gunnar Garrett parked to take photos with two of his daughters, Anika age 9 and Sophia age 6.
“It’s just a car to them, they don’t know,” he said with a smile while taking photos with his phone. “But I figured it would be cool for them because we’ll be watching the movie tonight at home. So they can be like, ‘Oh, now I get it.’ ”
The region actually already has a significant claim to the “Back to the Future” franchise glory. Large parts of the third installment, when Marty and Doc travel back to the Wild West of 1885, were filmed in Tuolumne County and used the local railroads. Tigner is keenly aware of the connection, and good-naturedly plays things up with a slew of ’80s and movie-related memorabilia he keeps in the car.
They include a replica of the multi-colored cap Marty wears in Part II, a USB drive shaped like a flux capacitor and an old Sony Walkman. So, don’t worry, Tigner is ready for your jokes. And he is happy to help keep the fond memories of the film alive for a new generation.
“The DeLorean is 30-plus years old, but it still looks futuristic,” Tigner said. “And still pulls kids in today. Which is fun.”