The DeLorean wouldn’t nearly be as deeply etched into our hearts if it hadn’t been for Back To The Future. The film has inspired plenty of replicas of the movie car, and most of us have seen one at a car show in our lifetimes. But recently, a workshop in Florida went an entirely different route, building a tribute to Doc Brown’s time machine based on a Tesla Model X. And the thing actually leaves strips of flame on the road as it goes!
This futuristic machine is the work of Robert Selby and The Shop, an auto shop based in Bradenton, Florida. He’s been sharing his builds on Instagram for a while now to show off what his team can do. “I’ve always been a big pop culture and movie fan, and I’ve always been a car guy,” Selby told The Autopian. He’s built a variety of modern tributes to classic movie cars, including his impressive Mad Max interceptor based on a Dodge Hellcat. He figured that after a few ICE-powered builds, it was time to go electric. “Most EV owners see them as appliances,” he says. “I decided, let me get an EV and do something really stupid with it just for fun.”
In place of a DeLorean DMC-12, a Tesla Model X Plaid was selected as the basis for the build, thanks to its rear gullwing doors that ape the function of the DeLorean’s own. From there, it was just a matter of fitting the EV SUV out with the hallmarks of Doc Brown’s legendary time machine. Visual mods include a silvery wrap, a nice 80s grid on the tail lights, and various pipes and wires strung along the bodywork. There’s also a set of “TMC” badges, a faux Mr. Fusion, and a flux capacitor inside (the build is called “TMC-12X,” replacing DeLorean with Tesla and adding an X to denote Model X). Purists will note that while it’s inspired by the DeLorean as seen in Back to the Future Parts I and II, there are no whitewall tires or valve electronics on this build.
Selby doesn’t just save the car for special occasions or trips through time, either. “It gets dailied and driven all over,” he says. Despite all the fancy accessories hanging off the bodywork, he’s had no trouble with local law enforcement questioning the vehicle’s modifications. “If you’ve ever heard of the notorious Florida Man, it’s a thing,” he says. “Things that might terrify normal humans, in Florida… they’re pretty chill.”
Oh, and don’t let us forget. The plates? “OUTAGAS.” You gotta love it. Mild language warning on the video.
The coolest feature of the build, though, is the dual flamethrower rig on the rear bumper. It sprays a trail of flames behind the car when engaged, which is a pretty solid simulacra of the flaming tire tracks left by the DeLorean when it travels through time. By virtue of squirting from behind the tires on this build, it’s not a perfect representation, but the way the burning fluid pools on the ground and burns looks remarkably like the effect in the film.
“No one had ever turned a Tesla into a time machine before, and the DeLoreans that I’d seen, no one had ever made one with flame effects,” said Selby. His build sets a new bar for replica time machines, if we’re honest, because those flame trails are just everything.
The flamethrowers use parts from Exothermic Pulsefire units, modified to fit under the Model X’s rear bumper. They work in a simple manner, using a set of racing fuel pumps to squirt a stream of gasoline from a racing fuel cell through a small atomizer nozzle. An igniter not dissimilar from those used on barbecues is used to set the fuel aflame on its way out the back of the car.
There were no trips to the burn unit today so i’d say our flamethrower testing on the Tesla Time Machine here at The Shop was a success! Now to go set autopilot at 88mph and see what happens… #theshopfl #modelx #plaid #bttf #delorean #timetravel #greatscott #docbrown #fluxcapacitor
It’s actually kind of amusing, in a way. On a regular car, you could just tap into the fuel system, but on a Tesla, you actually have to add a tiny little tank of gas. How times change.
We shouldn’t forget the giant rear metal louvers on the back, either. In the temporal transportation world, they’re called “time vents.” In this case, they’re fitted with a set of CryoFX nozzles spraying carbon dioxide. As the cold gas leaves the vents, it condenses moisture in the atmosphere into a thick fog, creating an amazing visual effect.
nstalled new cryo FX nozzles and on the TMC-12X, our Back to the Future inspired time travelling Tesla Model X Plaid to replicate the orignal DeLorean special effects from the film. #specialfx #bttf #teslatok #carsoftiktok #moviecars #bradenton #theshopfl
The car also has an extensive external audio system with speakers stashed under the front and rear bumpers. It can play a variety of sound effects or engine noises as desired, or even entire songs. Selby demonstrates it playing an obscure track called Never Gonna Give You Up, which we assume is some kind of Tesla theme song. If we’re honest, we’d have it playing the Back to the Future theme every time we mashed the gas pedal and the flame thrower on our way up to 88 mph.
[Ed Note: You can see a big red toggle for the audio on the left side of the Tesla’s gauge cluster. “It has a liquid CO2 tank that does the plumes of liquid CO2 out the back,” Selby told me. He says there’s a manual switch to energize fuel pumps, there’s a momentary option for flamethrowers, the “Jets” switch is for the rather thorough illumination, and that white keypad to the left of the steering column is a replica of the movie keypad in which doc input the dates for time travel. The 88mph speedometer abvoe the cluster and the gauges above the screen are meant to emulate those from the movie, as is the time-travel equipment below the screen. -DT]
Selby notes that his creation is often beloved or despised, with seldom few people finding an opinion in between these two extremes. “If you go into any car forum, if it’s the typical Tesla crew, they hate me, because the car spits fire and has funny lights. The typical combustion crew, they say it’s just an appliance.” Selby notes that, whether traditionalists like it or not, customized EVs are only going to become a bigger thing in the future. “It’s amazing the kind of reactions it’s inspired, both good and bad,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s the most fun car I’ve ever built.”
View this post on Instagram
It may not be a DeLorean, but the Model X is setting a high bar for unofficial remixed movie tribute vehicles. Expect this to be a growing category at car shows across the nation. In any case, we don’t want to see another Back To The Future theme build unless it’s capable of spraying massive flames on the roadway. Just don’t drive it by a gas station. Please. We’re begging you.
All Images: Bob Selby