Back in the 1980s, when Dr. David Delman was a medical resident at Stony Brook University, he suffered serious car envy — and the condition was chronic.
One of his professors drove a DeLorean, the sports car known for its starring role as a souped-up time machine in the “Back to the Future” film trilogy.
“I fell in love with it but never could afford one,” Delman says.
So he saved up. Now a physiatrist living in Jericho, Delman bought his first DeLorean — “a fixer-upper” — in 2002. He now owns two (one gas-powered, one electric), which set him apart from most in the crowd when he recently attended the premiere of “Framing John DeLorean,” a new movie (part-documentary, part-dramatization) from directors Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce, and starring Alec Baldwin in reenacted scenes as the legendary maverick auto executive.
The film, which hits select theaters and video-on-demand Friday, June 7, shows DeLorean as “an ambitious free thinker, but also shows the dark side of his ambition,” Delman notes.
Before Elon Musk and his Tesla, there was DeLorean, a renegade GM exec who in the 1970s started his own auto company. His slick vehicle looked like no other, with gull-wing doors and a stainless steel body. Despite hype, the firm went bankrupt in 1982, and DeLorean was arrested on charges of cocaine trafficking. (He died in New Jersey in 2005, at 80.)
But the car’s mystique lives on. The Long Island-New York DeLorean Motor Club (founded by Delman and Huntington Station engineer Tom Neiland) boasts some 50 members.
“The DeLorean has held up well over the years compared to most cars from the ‘80s,” says Rob Grady, of PJ Grady’s, a family-owned auto shop specializing in DeLorean repairs. Current price tags range from the low teens to $80,000 or more, says Grady, who loaned one of his own DeLoreans to the production. (That car, seen in promo shots with Baldwin standing beside it, goes for about $75,000.)
“Most owners love the way the car feels on the road, and the clean uncluttered look of the instruments and dashboard when they're behind the wheel,” says Grady.
Still, the car’s not for everyone.
“It helps to be an extrovert when you stop for gas, as there’s no lack of attention,” he says.
The question Delman gets asked most? “Hey, man, where's the Flux Capacitor?” a reference to the (alas, fictional) time-travel unit in the “Future” films.
“I answer, ‘In the back, between the seats,’ ” Delman jokes.
He may not pass through the space-time continuum, but he looks good driving away.