This 827,000-mile DeLorean Time Machine replica is a star in its own right
Oliver Holler shouldn’t be here at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance—or anywhere else, for that matter. Not if the doctors had been correct. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2001, he was given six months. And with what little time he thought he had left, he wanted to fulfill a dream and build a replica of the DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future.
Perhaps that car helped save his own future. It certainly is helping to save others.
It’s been 20 years since Oliver’s fateful diagnosis, and for nearly almost as long, he and his wife Terry have been faithfully raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research by displaying their beloved Time Machine at events. It’s hard to tell who has benefited more.
“We were getting a lot of attention because of the car, so we thought if we could direct people’s attention to the foundation, that would be more useful than just giving them an Instagram picture,” Oliver says. “It certainly has changed our lives.”
The Hollers’ connection to the Michael J. Fox Foundation isn’t difficult to decipher. Fox starred as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, Oliver’s favorite movie, and Fox now suffers from Parkinson’s.
“I saw the movie in the theatre in 1985, and as a young high school student I was almost the same age as Marty McFly was,” Oliver says. “It made an impression on me—a lasting impression.”
After Oliver’s cancer diagnosis and the removal of a tumor in 2001, he began thinking about the most important things on his bucket list, and building a Time Machine replica jumped to the top. First, he had to buy a DeLorean DMC-12.
“I won [a 1982 model] in an eBay auction, and it was in better condition than they described it,” he says. “Then we went to work.”
The Hollers built every piece that was added to the DeLorean. “Today you’d have a decent chance of finding a replica or information about how to build one, but we had to make it all from scratch,” he says. “We watched the movie over and over on an old VHS tape to figure out how everything should look.”
Terry says they had something going for them: “Our background is in theater, so we propped it out.”
How long did it take? “From DeLorean to Time Machine was about 3 1/2 months,” Oliver says, “but it took 20 years to reach perfection, and we’re still working on it.”
He says the most difficult part of the build was bending the conduit—“the flux capacitor coils,” to those in the know—because they’re so tight to the car. “You can’t buy those at Walmart,” he says with a laugh. Most people ask about the flux capacitor, even though they often mispronounce it.
Oliver estimates that he and Terry have seen Back to the Future “more than 100 times, probably closer to 200 times,” often because an event they’re appearing at is also showing the movie. “It had such a strong impact on us, and we found out that we weren’t alone—it was worldwide. So it’s fun for us to see the car bring people joy.”
The Hollers took part in the Hagerty Amelia or Bust Tour that ran from Maryland to Florida, but first they had to drive from their home in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to the start. All told, the trip covered 2000 miles. That’s nothing for the Hollers, who have driven 827,000 miles in the DeLorean over the past 20 years and have averaged almost $1 per mile in donations to the Fox Foundation.
The two were awarded “Worst in Show” at Saturday’s Amelia Island Concours d’LeMons, a tongue-in-cheek car event that is the antithesis of Sunday’s prestigious Concours d’Elegance. Terry says that thanks to the generous support from the new friends they made on the Amelia or Bust Tour, and the more than $1500 that was donated at LeMons, “We’re well on our way to $1 million.”
Oliver says it’s rewarding to not only help a great cause but also bring smiles to people’s faces.
“People come up to me and tell me that I just made their day, and all I did was drive the car to the store or to the gas station. How cool is that?” he says. “This is my bonus round. Doing this is easy.”
The Hollers definitely make it look that way.