Behind the Wheel: DeLorean is primed to go back in time

By: Jennifer Sigouin | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 19, 2017


Roseville resident Mike Bilski, 41, saw the movie “Back to the Future” on the day it opened in 1985, and ever since, he said, he’s been obsessed with the DeLorean — the film’s car-turned-time-machine.

Now, he has one of his own — a 1981 DeLorean that he purchased around 15 years ago. In an email interview, Bilski explained that when he first bought the car, it was in “rough mechanical shape,” and he never intended to convert it into a replica of the famed time machine. That all changed with the addition of one key item — the flux capacitor.

In the film, the Y-shaped flux capacitor is the core component that makes Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean able to travel through time. Bilski added a replica of the flux capacitor to his DeLorean as a novelty, and the rest of the transformation took off from there.

“When I would light it up, people would flip out,” Bilski said. “So I started researching the time machine. … Because even with just the flux capacitor, people would always yell lines from the movie. Might as well go all the way.”

Bilski works as a plant manager at a shop that manufactures paint tools for the auto industry, but in his spare time, he builds replica movie props and costumes as a hobby. Getting the DeLorean up to Marty McFly and Doc Brown standards was the ultimate project.

Bilski has studied the “Back to the Future” DeLorean extensively, and he spent 12 years finding just the right parts in the same makes and models as those used in the film. Then, with the help of a few other builders, he started adding all of the features to the car, with careful attention to every detail.

“I realized that there was no one around me that had done as much research and prop collecting for this car as me, and I just had to figure out the challenges and do it,” he said.

Bilski’s DeLorean now has functioning “time circuits” that change dates and make sounds; a functioning digital speedometer; and a “Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor” unit.  

“All the bells and whistles light up just like the film,” he explained. “Even turning the props on is done with the ‘Y’ handle, like in the movie.”

Bilski noted that with the exception of shocks, springs and some steering work, the restoration of the car itself is almost complete. However, he still needs a few more time machine props to make the DeLorean more accurate to the film version.

“Back to the Future” fans who see the car, though, don’t seem to mind that it’s still a work in progress.

“People are usually so happy to see it, they don’t notice the missing items,” Bilski said.

While Bilski has taken the DeLorean to a few car shows here and there, he said he rarely takes it out for casual drives because it can be distracting to other drivers.

“As fun and attention-getting as it is, it’s kind of nerve-wracking to drive,” he explained. “Because now everyone has cellphones; they want to ride alongside of you and take video and pay more attention to the car than the road.”

When Bilski does show off the car, though, the reaction is always positive, he said, noting that it puts smiles on people’s faces and inspires them to yell out their favorite movie lines.

And even after working on the DeLorean for so many years, Bilski himself still gets excited about it, especially when he flips on the time circuit switch.

“Turning that switch to turn on the car, followed by the movie sounds with all the lights coming on, never gets old,” he said.

Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history or a special meaning to you? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.