'Back to the Future' fan realizes lifelong DeLorean dream
CAMPBELL RIVER – There's a TV commercial from the 1980's that shows a family in a video store wondering about buying Back to the Future.
"Yah! Let's get this!" says the son with a smile. "We've only rented it about a dozen times," says the dad.
When Benjamin Coyle was a kid, he didn't need an ad to persuade him to own the Back to the Future movies. He and his dad watched them way more than a dozen times.
"We watched the VHS tapes until they wore-out and didn't play anymore," Ben recalls with a laugh. They ended up upgrading to DVD and Blu-Ray.
Although he and his parents were different, Ben says they could always connect through Back to the Future.
"Finding something that was a common thread – for us – was very cool," he explains.
Ben shows me a picture of his four-year-old self beaming in front of his first skateboard.
He got it after watching Michael J. Fox riding one in the first movie. When the actor rode a hoverboard in the second movie, Ben pretended his skateboard could fly too. But what young Ben really dreamed of driving was that time-travelling DeLorean car.
"My uncle had a car that didn't run in his garage that I put a big [cardboard] 'Y' in the back," Ben remembers. "I pretended it was [the DeLorean's] flux-capacitator."
Almost three decades later, Ben regularly streams the movies on his phone. Although technology has changed, Ben's passion for the DeLorean is permanent – he has a tattoo of the time-travelling car that covers his entire forearm.
He also spent years searching for one of the 6,000 DeLoreans left in the world. So you can imagine how Ben felt when he finally found one for sale – through Facebook – in Florida.
"It's like driving a celebrity," he says in front of his iconic car. "Everyone wants to see it!"
Ben's 1981 DeLorean is parked on the lot of his Island Owl auto dealership in Campbell River.
The experienced salesperson shows off the classic gull-wing doors and the contemporary hoverboard resting on the passenger seat.
He mentions the 130 horsepower V6 Peugeot Renault Volvo engine, the many upgrades, and the "only 42,000 original miles."
But Ben knows, what those who know the movie, really want to know: "I want to actually make a card that I can hand out to people," Ben laughs. "Speedometer goes to 85, no it doesn't have a flux capacitor, no I haven't gone back to try to get my mom and dad back together."
Ben also knows to tell the truth about the "daily driver."
"It drives like a 38-year-old refrigerator!" he laughs.
But then again, this was never really about driving for Ben – this was about realizing a dream. "As soon as I secured it, I called my dad," Ben says. "Started crying on the phone."
When his parents finally got to sit in it, they said how proud they were. "It was a very connected feeling," Ben says with a deep sigh. "Very emotional for sure."
It was almost like travelling back in time to those priceless moments wearing out the VHS tapes.
Although Ben's been selling cars for years, he says the DeLorean is too priceless to let go.
"If somebody wanted to come make an offer I couldn't refuse," he says. "I'd just go buy another one."
But that hoverboard in the passenger seat? "Well, that's negotiable," Ben smiles. "Just like anything!"