Back to the Future (1985) – ripper car movies

He's the only kid ever to get into trouble before he was born


Hill Valley high-schooler Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) is living his best 1980s teen life to the power of rad – he’s hot with a guitar, can handle a skateboard, and has a lakeside rendezvous planned with his favourite girl, the spunky Jennifer (Claudia Wells).

First published in the November 2023 issue of Street Machine

Marty dreams of rock ’n’ roll stardom and slipping behind the wheel of a spankers black HiLux Xtracab, but he has a couple of hurdles in his way: his parents, the awkward George (Crispin Glover) and well-meaning Lorraine (Lea Thompson); and the constant derision of overbearing school principal Strickland (James Tolkan).

Marty shares an unusual friendship with the local wack-job, Dr Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown (Christopher Lloyd), who summons him to a nearby shopping centre under the cover of darkness to unveil his latest invention. It seems the good doctor has been busying himself building a time machine – out of a near-new DeLorean, no less – and is keen to have Marty document his achievement with the promise that “when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious shit”.

Unfortunately, a slight hiccup involving stolen plutonium and missile-launching terrorists sees the doc gunned down and Marty driving for his life in said time machine, accidentally sending himself back in time 30 years to 1955 in the process.

It seems Hill Valley in ’55 was a place of hope and prosperity – a stark contrast to its run-down 1985 guise – and soon Marty accidentally becomes acquainted with his youthful parents on the cusp of their blossoming relationship. Unfortunately, the teen version of his mum soon has the hots for Marty, which upsets the space-time continuum and begins to erase Marty and his siblings from existing in the future. It is up to Marty to reconnect George and Lorraine for their first kiss at the local dance, all the while fending off the thuggery of local tough guy Biff Tannen (Tom Wilson) and his wanker pals.

In the meantime, Marty connects with a youthful Doc Brown and enlists his help to harness a historical lightning strike at the local clock tower in order to give the time machine enough juice to send Marty back to the future.


It had been a solid two decades between watches of Back to the Future for me, and I’d forgotten how much of a simple pleasure this movie is. It has an incredible energy and excitement that rarely lets up, and the comparisons drawn between the 80s and the 50s offer some great laughs. The film is well-written, beautifully executed, and gave Fox and Lloyd the roles of their lifetimes. Be sure to check out parts two and three of the trilogy, too, if you haven’t already – you won’t be disappointed.


  • 1982 DeLorean DMC 12
  • 1946 Ford Super De Luxe
  • 1947 Chevrolet Thriftmaster
  • 1985 Toyota HiLux
  • 1975 Volkswagen Kombi
  • 1981 Jeep CJ-7
  • 1949 Packard Custom Eight
  • 1981 GMC Value-Van
  • 1972 Ford Courier
  • 1955 Chevrolet Nomad
  • 1984 AMC Eagle


  • Michael J Fox
  • Christopher Lloyd
  • Lea Thompson
  • Crispin Glover
  • Tom Wilson
  • Claudia Wells
  • James Tolkan


Robert Zemeckis


A tyre-smoking, drifting DeLorean is a rare sight to behold and looks a treat all dolled up in its time machine guise. Biff’s Ford convertible cops a workout, too!


A 17-year-old high school student is sent 30 years into the past by a mad scientist, and must re-establish his parents’ courtship to avoid irreversibly altering his future.


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Following the film’s release, DeLorean head honcho John DeLorean contacted writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis to thank them for immortalising his car.