By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
When Back to the Future first came out 30 years ago, Justin Sookraj was just a five-year-old kid. Now, 30 years later, Sookraj makes his living restoring the vehicle made famous by the film.
Sookraj was at the Canadian Automotive Museum on Oct. 22 – the day after Marty McFly, the star of the Back to the Future trilogy played by Michael J. Fox, came to the future in the second film – to speak on a special vehicle in the museum’s collection.
However, instead of watching the Chicago Cubs play the Miami Gators in the World Series, or riding his hoverboard around, Sookraj was in Oshawa to help pay homage to the car made famous by the trilogy: the DeLorean DMC-12.
“I was about 5 when (the first movie) came out,” Sookraj says. “My first time seeing the movie and seeing the car wasn’t too far in between, and I was blown away that it was real.”
The car Sookraj was looking at was donated to the Oshawa museum back in 2011 by a Whitby dentist who had purchased it on a whim in the 1980s, and had more or less let it sit since.
“There was only one previous owner, and he didn’t enjoy driving the car,” says Alex Gates, the museum’s curator. “So it stayed in storage, so it’s pretty much in original condition.”
Gates added that Oct. 21 – dubbed by many as “Back to the Future Day” as it was the day McFly travelled to the future in the second film – was a busy one for him and the museum, swamped with interviews to talk about the car in the museum’s collection, as well as people wanting to see the car the movie made famous.
The DeLorean DMC-12 first went into production in 1981, with a little more than 8,500 vehicles produced in Northern Ireland and in Texas. The car is notable for its distinctive gull-wing doors and unpainted, stainless steel body.
The company went into receivership in 1982, with cars being produced until the owner of the company, John DeLorean, was arrested for cocaine trafficking. Although he was found not guilty, the company was bankrupt and the production facilities liquidated.