SEATTLE – Arnie Brandon always prided himself in driving something different. In the early 1980s, his car of choice was something called a Renault Gordini.
It was during his search for a new ride that he laid eyes on the car that changed everything.
“This thing came up alongside of me, and I said, ‘Man, I don’t know what that is, but that’s what I want,’” Brandon recalled.
Before long, he was the proud owner of a DeLorean, a futuristic car known for its gull-wing doors and stainless-steel finish.
Brandon bought the car in 1982 for $26,175, according to the original window sticker, which is framed in Brandon’s office. It cost thousands more than even a fully loaded Corvette at the time, he said.
The car was mostly unknown, until 1985, when the DeLorean played the role of time machine in “Back to the Future,” launching it into super stardom.
In the movie, the DeLorean was able to travel time by going 88 miles an hour, a feat that has not been repeated in the real world.
“Let me tell you: going 88 miles an hour didn’t do a thing for me!” Brandon said. “I’m still here.”
But lack of time travel did little to douse his DeLorean flame. It became a bit of an obsession, as evidenced by his license plate: “OBSESSD.”
Over time, Brandon has owned seven DeLoreans, selling all but his original. He recently shipped one to Australia.
His office doubles as a mini DeLorean museum, filled with auto manuals, toys and a framed picture of Brandon meeting John DeLorean, the car’s creator, in 1985.
“He would charm you right out of your shorts in a second,” Brandon recalled.
During the DeLorean Motor Company’s short tenure, about 8400 cars were produced, with an estimated 6,000 still around today, Brandon said.
At least 100 of them are in Northwest region alone. In fact, Brandon started the Pacific Northwest DeLorean Club in 1983. Today it boasts about 100 members.
Many of those cars were parading through Seattle last Saturday during the Comicon Convention. Twenty-three DeLoreans drove from the convention center to the Uptown Theater in Lower Queen Anne before a screening of “Back to the Future.”
Hundreds waiting in line outside of the theater, many dressed in their favorite “Back to the Future” costumes, cheered as the cars drove by.
When the final car pulled up the theater, Lea Thompson, one of the movie’s stars, stepped out.
“The ride was awesome,” Thompson said. “It’s the best car ever made.”
The large turnout blew Brandon away.
“This is unbelievably wild,” he said. “It’s a scene that will not soon be repeated, I’ll tell ya.”
DeLorean parts are still available to keep the iconic cars running. In fact, Issaquah is home to DeLorean Parts Northwest, a full-service repair facility.