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So it can’t quite reach 88 miles per hour, but this DeLorean can fly. OK, it can’t quite fly, but it can hover. Matthew Riese, a grad student from San Francisco, California, has created a hovercraft that looks like a DeLorean, the rare gull-wing door vehicle from the 1980s made especially popular after it was featured as a time machine in the Back to the Future movie franchise. The craft has now been featured in Make magazine and has appeared at the 2012 Maker Faire and a Giants-Rockies game.
The DeLorean isn’t even a real DeLorean. Matthew Riese used the blueprints for a popular kit hovercraft and adapted it to look like a DeLorean. Riese began work on the project in 2008, though he dreamed of doing something along these lines ever since he saw Back to the Future as a child. It took him only four months to create a “rough draft” that hovered and looked DeLorean-esque, but was “rickety and unsafe.” Over the next two years, Riese rebuilt the hovercraft but ran out of funding. He started a Kickstarter to fund the rest of the project, surpassing his $5500 goal in July 2010. The project was supported by 150 backers, anyone who contributed more than $4 would have their name written on the inside of the DeLorean.
Hovercrafts function with a giant fan underneath the middle of the craft pushes air up under the craft. A flexible inner tube around the perimeter (think of it like a bed skirt) traps the air under the hovercraft, the pressure of which pushes the craft up. Another giant fan on the back pushes the craft forward. There are rudders on the back of the rear fan that allow the craft to be steered. It can hold people, but the steering wheel is in the middle of the vehicle. There is no windshield, which might make things a little bit wet when out on the water, but it does have a marine stereo system.
Riese says that the hovercraft can hover on just about anything flat: asphalt, sand, water, etc. While it can hover on roads, it’s not street legal. It is registered with the California DMV as a boat. While it has appeared at Maker Faire, it is most commonly in the San Francisco Bay among its fellow boats. It can reach top speeds of 45 miles per hour, so it will never reach the 88 miles per hour required to travel through time like Doc Brown. At least that will keep Riese’s plutonium costs down.
After it appeared at San Francisco’s Maker Faire in May, photos and videos of the creation appeared all over the internet. It made it’s most public splash when it was cruising through McCovey Cove during a Giants baseball game. CSN cut between shots of the game and shots of the hovercraft floating over the water, all lit up from underneath. The game announcers described it as “a DeLorean on skiis” (Make magazine thought of it more as a DeLorean on a hoverboard) and said they would like one.
Want a ride in the hovering DeLorean? You should have thought of that two years ago when Riese was looking for funding. Anyone who pledged $50 or more and would be in the San Francisco area could take a five- to ten-minute ride in the craft. No one took Riese up on his offer to pledge $250 for a 30 minute lesson on how to drive the DeLorean.