Northern Ireland

DeLorean: Queen's University Belfast students build all-electric iconic car

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe DeLorean car at the centre of a Queen's University project

An iconic DeLorean car built in Belfast in the 1980s is the centrepiece of a special project by students in the city.

The DeLorean was made famous when one featured as Marty McFly's time machine in the Back to the Future films.

Instead of a flux capacitor, students at Queen's University are aiming to give a highly-charged boost to the iconic vehicle.

They have embarked on a year-long project that will have them looking back... to the future. Their mission is to restore and electrify the DeLorean.

The vehicle was brought back to Belfast from a cow shed in County Leitrim.

It had been built at DeLorean's Dunmurry plant on the outskirts of the city in the early 1980s and shipped to the United States.

After spending years on the sunny roads of South Carolina, it was eventually returned to Ireland by a car collector.

Now the gull-winged stainless steel car has been stripped down and the task is about working out how to bring it roaring back into the 21st century.

Undergraduate Jake Mercer is a member of the project team. He said the car was getting an electrical makeover.

"It'll have cool speedos and you will be able to Bluetooth your phone to it. This is all part of a learning project. However, the restored DeLorean will have just as much charisma as the old car," he said.

Another member of the restoration team is Nikki Jackson who has a close family connection to the DeLorean motor car.

"My granddad actually worked for DeLorean at the time they were being built, so I felt it would be a good idea to work on one of the cars myself. I never pictured myself doing something like this when I started studying at Queen's," she said.


Fellow student Niamh Tohill is equally excited by the project.

Image caption The vehicle was brought back to Belfast from a cow shed in County Leitrim

"It was a real wow factor when I first walked into the garage and saw the DeLorean sitting there. It was like... it's real... it's there," she said.

Dr David Laverty, a lecturer in electrical engineering at Queen's, is overseeing the project. He said using a DeLorean was a "no-brainer" once they were offered the chance to get their hands on one.

"The purpose of the project is to encourage school kids to consider careers in electrical engineering," he said.

"I was a big Back to the Future fan when I was growing up. The car remains iconic and well known amongst people of all ages. So when we were looking for a project I thought, wouldn't it be really cool to build an electric car out of a DeLorean."

They aim to have the car "electrified" by October 2015.

So it is pedal to the metal for these students, and as Dr Emmett Brown in Back to the Future might say: "Where they're going, they won't need roads."

More on this story