So we see that it's clearly evident the production team behind Back to the Future struck gold in creating the DeLorean time machine. So how exactly did director Robert Zemeckis and his crew develop the original idea and look of the famous time traveling vehicle?
Interestingly, the original idea for the time machine in the film wasn’t for a DeLorean, or for a car at all for that matter. The very first form of the time machine used in the original draft of the screenplay was a laser device that was attached to a refrigerator. The refrigerator was then transported to a nuclear bomb site. Ultimately, however, the idea of the time machine being a refrigerator was abandoned, as Zemeckis stated that he feared children, after watching the film, would start climbing in refrigerators and get trapped. After the refrigerator, Zemeckis next came up with the idea of the time machine being a vehicle, as this would end up making the machine mobile (Back to the Future DVD).
After deciding on the machine being a vehicle, the question became, “What kind of car?” Ultimately, the decision landed on the DeLorean DMC-12. The specific reason for the DeLorean was mostly for the sake of the plot of the film. In the beginning, Marty (Michael J. Fox) travels back to 1955. Upon “re-entry” from 1985, he crashes into a barn. When the residents hear the crash and investigate, they see Marty (still with his radiation suit on) opening the characteristic “gull-wing” doors of the DeLorean, and as a result they believe the machine to be an alien spaceship. This is particularly why Zemeckis needed a "futuristic" looking vehicle with gull-wing doors, as the DeLorean sported (Back to the Future DVD).
Written by Anthony Watkins
Back to the Future. Screenplay by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Prod. Neil Canton and Bob
Gale. 1985. Special Edition DVD. Universal Pictures, 1985.