That amazing homemade DeLorean hovercraft is up for auction
[Editor’s note: The hovercraft sold for $44,088.]
If Matt Riese could go Back to the Future, he wouldn’t change a thing—not when it comes to the DeLorean hovercraft he has obsessed over for years. He only wishes his creation would have found a new home by now.
Riese, a 36-year-old San Francisco artist, decided last year to sell the hovercraft so he could “move on to other things,” including paying off his student loans.
The unique hovercraft may look like a DeLorean, but it is made of sculpted Styrofoam with a fiberglass shell and metallic paint. Lift comes from a 24-inch fan powered by a 6-horsepower lawnmower engine, while thrust is provided by a 36-inch fan powered by a 23-hp Briggs & Stratton twin-cylinder utility engine. Riese says the hovercraft has a top speed of 31 mph, well short of 88 mph required for time travel. (In case you’ve never seen Back to the Future, that’s a joke.)
When Riese decided to sell the hovercraft, he generated media attention by creating a website and highlight video. The DeLorean has since been featured in numerous newspapers and on television, including The Discovery Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science and an ABC News segment of Bartell’s Backroads, whichwon an Emmy Award.
But the dang DeLorean didn’t sell. Riese thought he had a buyer on eBay at one point, but the deal fell through. Subsequent attempts to sell it were also unsuccessful.
Riese has made the most of his additional time with the hovercraft, however. He took it to San Francisco Giants baseball games and cruised around McCovey Cove. He hovered to a deserted island. He tooled around with a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle. He even made a few bucks by renting the DeLorean for use in a couple of music videos, including Electric Guest’s Dollar (warning: there’s profanity).
After appearing on Jay Leno’s Garage in September, the hovercraft—along with its custom trailer—is on the block again, this time on Bring A Trailer. Bidding is currently at $6666, which is nowhere close to what Riese has put into it, so naturally he’s a little nervous about what that number will be when the auction ends Monday, November 4.
“I’m worried about that,” he tells Hagerty, “but it’s kind of impossible to know what it’s worth since nothing like this has ever been sold before. So I’m fine with letting the market decide and then moving on.”
As Riese said in his appearance on Leno, “moving on” would include creating a “flying Batmobile” based on a UH-18SW Hoverwing. Just don’t expect to see it anytime soon. “I’ve been dreaming about building the 1989 Batmobile for a long time,” he says, “but I might have to wait until my retirement to tackle something that big.”
Regardless, Riese will continue to create. “It feels very natural and obvious,” he says. “Part of what motivates me when I’m feeling stuck is to do something that I’ll remember for my whole life. Sometimes the effort it takes to create something doesn’t seem worth it—until I look at it that way.”
The DeLorean hovercraft definitely qualifies.