More than a week after “Back to the Future Day,” when Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to October 21, 2015, in Back to the Future Part II, Bob Moseley is still getting calls about his custom-built DeLorean time machines. Perhaps you’ve seen them at car shows or on Moseley’s REELZ reality TV show. If you haven’t, just know this — they look just like the car from the movie, and even better, all of the features actually work.
Moseley, known widely as “Video Bob,” got his start in the video production business. Over the past two decades, Moseley estimates he has directed between 300 and 400 music videos for local and national music acts, most notably Pantera. Moseley began working closely with Vinnie Paul in 2005, producing videos for his side-project Hell Yeah. Before that, he owned a restaurant in Deep Ellum and built camera trucks for a local independent news station.
Opening the restaurant came at a pretty bad time for Moseley: He was in the process of divorcing his wife, and consequently, liquidating his assets, which included a couple of pretty unique custom cars. Moseley had built replicas of the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future and a carbon-copy of KITT, the Trans Am from Night Rider, and he had to sell them both. “That’s what happens when you get divorced — you have to give away everything you own for no fucking reason,” says Moseley.
In the process of selling the cars, he’d placed ads in national car magazines. After the cars sold, people kept pestering him about building custom DeLoreans. “This guy called me and said that no one in the world was making these cars. What would it take for me to build one?” says Moseley. “I decided to close the restaurant and build these cars. I would usually just ignore the emails, but this guy paid me a ton of money to build him a DeLorean.”
And thus, a business was born. At this point, Moseley has restored 23 DeLoreans and counting, for everyone from bored rich nerds to the San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker. When he first started the business, DeLoreans could be purchased relatively cheaply, for about $15,000. As time inched toward 2015 and nostalgic interest in the film began to swell, though, prices increased sharply. If you want to buy one of Moseley’s custom DeLoreans, the car will cost you about $40,000, assuming you can find one. Then, you’ll need to shell out $50,000 for Moseley’s “conversion fee.”
To begin building the DeLoreans, Moseley had to get up close and personal with the actual car. He drove to California, rented a motel room and headed to Universal Studios. “I asked the maintenance guy for the park who had the keys to the DeLorean,” says Moseley. “He said ‘I do.’ I asked what it would take for me to check it out, that I needed a few intimate moments with a tape measure, a camera and this car. I flashed a couple hundred dollar bills. He told me to meet him on his smoke break.”
Before that, Moseley was using his VCR to pause stills of the film on VHS. He’d created a website, which he used to crowdsource information on the car’s parts, and brought photos to experts in a variety of fields — electrical, mechanical, engineering — and asking them to identify parts. Then, the technology improved to Blu-Ray discs and HD televisions. “You can take screenshots and read the writing on each of the buttons,” says Moseley. Later, he would meet with the actual team that designed the original on-screen cars for the Back to the Future films.
They weren’t really much help. “They said they went to a junkyard, grabbed some junk and just threw some shit on the car,” says Moseley. “They said that they didn’t know that this was going to be such a huge movie, otherwise they would have made some moves. We had to reverse-engineer every single part.” In that process, Moseley wanted to make sure that everything that “worked” in the film “worked in real life." Except for, you know, that whole time travel thing.
“These things do everything that they did in the movie. You can change the dates on the calendar clock and the flux capacitor lights up when you go 88 miles per hour. There’s a GPS computer unit that tracks your actual speed,” says Moseley. “It makes all the sounds — it really does everything except go back in time. It goes forward in time, one second at a time.” His hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed — according to Moseley, the film’s original special effects team and director have praised the car as the best replica they’ve ever seen. “They say it’s even better, actually, because everything on it works,” he says.
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With the help of a little viral video success, Moseley landed his reality show with REELZ, which is currently slated for European distribution after completing its run in the United States. He does worry, though, that the Back to the Future frenzy might have peaked in 2015. “2015 might have been the precipice of this thing and it might be downhill from here, but I still get tons of inquiries,” says Moseley. “A lot of my customers recently have been corporate, but usually it’s a hardcore fan. They already have a DeLorean, but having a DeLorean and having the Time Machine is two different things.”
Fortunately, Moseley doesn’t just rely on Back to the Future nostalgia to make a living. He’s also reproduced the Ghostbusters wagon, Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine, Scarface’s Cadillac, and an A-Team van. He knows, though, that the DeLorean is probably what he’ll be the most well known for, and he’s okay with that.
“This was not the legacy I had planned for myself. Never in a million years, when I was watching that movie at 9 or 10 years old, did I think that I would ever see one of these cars, much less own one,” says Moseley. “Back to the Future has changed my life in ways that I could never imagine. Something that was just a hobby has turned into a crazy business.”