At the very end of the first Back to the Future movie, Dr. Emmett Brown utters the immortal words: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” The previously grounded DeLorean DMC-12 car he’s driving then lifts off the ground, and flies halfway down the street before turning around and rocketing directly at the camera. Cue the audience bursting into fits of wild applause and Hollywood execs avariciously rubbing their hands together at the prospect of a high-grossing movie sequel. Or two.
It’s a great scene, and one that sticks with you long after the film has ended. It obviously stuck with Paul DeLorean, nephew of the founder of the unfortunately short-lived DeLorean Motor Company — because 32 years after the first Back to the Future, he’s setting out to launch a flying vehicle under the DeLorean brand. And this time a DeLorean could have got it right!
As Paul DeLorean told Digital Trends, DeLorean Aerospace’s DR-7 isn’t technically a car — because it can’t drive on roads — but it doesn’t exactly look like a plane, either. Instead, the two-passenger electric vehicle sports a carbon composite, monocoque structure body, similar to that of an F1 racer. It’s designed to be flown with minimal operator training, courtesy of an autonomous flight control system that can also be used in manual mode for the “performance flying enthusiast.”
The DR-7 is maneuvered using a pair of 360-degree thrust-vectoring electric ducted fan units. The results will reportedly make it capable of hovering or forward flight, with a top speed of 240 miles per hour. It will also boast a range of 120 miles, which should make it more than capable of covering your commute to work. Then, at the end of the day, you can neatly store it in your garage, thanks to its smart folding wings.
Paul DeLorean is aiming high with the vehicle. When Digital Trends asked whether he was envisioning this as the next luxury yacht or the next mass-market car, he told us: “We aren’t targeting only general aviation customers; we see much broader market potential, extending into other transportation segments. Our target price point will reflect that, ultimately. However, we have not established our launch pricing yet.”
At present he said DeLorean Aerospace is seeking additional funding for prototype development, which it is hoped will be completed within the next year. After that, we just have to wait to see which of the various competing flying cars (or, well, “vertical takeoff and landing personal air transport vehicles”) we’ve heard about will take off first — in all senses of the word.
With the original DeLorean DMC-12 having become a cult classic, despite selling nowhere close to enough to stay afloat during its original production run, it would be kind of great to see the DeLorean finally become the mass-market transportation technology its creators always dreamed it should be.
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