'Absolute Time Capsule' Found in Wisconsin Barn

1981 DeLorean like one used in 'Back to the Future' discovered with just 977 miles on it
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2023 9:31 AM CDT
Marty Didn't Drive It, but This DeLorean Is Pretty Special
A photo of a 1981 DeLorean owned by Bradley Despaigne, 36, seen on Nov. 16, 2020, in Clearwater, Florida.   (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

A pair of Illinois car restorers didn't have to go back in time to stumble upon their latest big find, though they did have to cross state lines. WTVO reports that Michael McElhattan, who owns DeLorean Midwest in Crystal Lake, and employee Kevin Thomas struck a deal earlier this month with a 90-year-old man in Wisconsin, whose Waukesha County barn was housing a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, like the model used in the 1985 film Back to the Future. It wasn't just the novelty and nostalgia that appealed to McElhattan, however: The stainless-steel vehicle had just 977 miles on its odometer, per his company's Oct. 9 Facebook post about the car.

"We believe it had been parked for around 20 years, so long it had began to sink into the ground," the post notes of the DeLorean, seen covered in dirt and dust. "The pictures don't do justice for how filthy this thing is." McElhattan tells CBS 58 that he was tipped off to the car by a phone call from New Mexico, and that despite its grimy appearance, it was probably a blessing it had been hidden away in the barn all those years. "The condition of the leather, the condition of the instruments ... and a lot of places where you see sun damage—and that's one of the big killers on this—this car virtually has no sun damage," he says.

Most of the DeLorean's parts seem to be original, according to McElhattan's assessment. "It's an absolute time capsule," he tells USA Today, which notes the car had first been in the possession of a Milwaukee car dealership for a decade, before being purchased by the Waukesha County man, who'd owned it ever since. "He said he would go out in the barn and just look at it, because he thought it was a really cool car," McElhattan tells CBS 58.

story continues below

Restoration is now the goal for the DeLorean, models of which were only made in Ireland between 1981 and 1983. It's expected the interior will need to be completely torn out, as mice had been living inside the car, and some mechanical work will be required as well. McElhattan believes it should take about six months to prep the car for sale, and that while DeLoreans typically sell for between $65,000 and $85,000, this one could fetch an even higher price—maybe even into the six figures. "We're excited to get working on this gem and get it back on the road," DeLorean Midwest noted in its social media post. (More DeLorean stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.