Aaron Gum can tell you several movies he loves, but ask about the one—the film that he most associates with his childhood—and his eyes sparkle. The clock tower…the electricity…the burn marks from the tires of Doc Brown’s DeLorean as it travels Back to the Future.
“Nothing really sums up a decade, as far as pop culture goes, as much as a DeLorean,” says the freelance producer of commercials, music videos, and other media around Omaha.
As a kid growing up in the 1980s, Gum always wanted a DeLorean, but he never expected to fulfill the dream. The DeLorean DMC-12—the only car ever produced by the DeLorean Motor Co.—had a limited production period between 1981 and 1983. Around 10,000 vehicles were made, and less than 7,000 are still in existence.
While perusing social media in April, a photo of the vehicle on a flatbed in a Facebook post by a friend of a friend changed his mind. The car was headed for Woodhouse Auto, which had taken it on trade for an Alpha Romeo.
Gum, also the synthesist for the local new-wave synth duo Glow in the Dark, originally wanted to borrow the vehicle for a photo shoot. As soon as he saw the DeLorean on social media, he called the marketing director at Woodhouse Auto Group, with whom he worked on commercials, and asked about it. The vehicle, at that time, was not running and he was not able to use the car.
Two months later, Gum visited Woodhouse to shoot commercials and asked about the vehicle. Yes, it was still there, and yes, it was now running. Gum bought the vehicle for around $30,000. It was a whim for the normally frugal Gum, whose high-ticket purchases tend to be more career-focused, such as film cameras or synthesizer equipment.
The vehicle has become his promo car for the band, taking him to gigs around the city.
Gum goes overboard in his devotion to hobbies, and he soon began making the futuristic-looking car even more 1980s in style. The fuse was out on the lights, so he replaced the lighting with LEDs. He acquired such movie props as a flux capacitor, hoverboard, a Mr. Fusion home energy reactor, Marty McFly jacket, and a 1/6 scale DeLorean time machine.
Gum isn’t a “car guy,” but the car—and what it symbolizes—has captured his heart. In July his friend Scott called and told him to get down to Quaker Steak & Lube in Council Bluffs. A second DeLorean, one Gum knew nothing about, was participating at the Wheels of Courage auto show taking place at the restaurant’s lot. Gum quickly drove over to check out his vehicle’s twin, parking outside the show’s perimeter near the other DeLorean.
“It was kind of crazy,” Gum says. “I had no idea there was another one in the area, but there it was, right over in Council Bluffs.”
Gum’s is a 1981, the other was a 1983, so the two men compared parts. The 1983 was more authentic to the one in the movie, having no aesthetic grooves or fuel door stamped into
But the thing about owning a DeLorean that makes Gum smile most is his encounters with movie fans.
“This kid came up wanting to sit in it,” Gum says. “Afterwards his father said, ‘you made his day,’ and I thought that was pretty cool.”
“You know,” he says, “you see a classic Lambo or something, it’s really cool, but you don’t just go sit down in it. People do that all the time with this car. They sit down and then go, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I should have asked. But I was so excited to see it!’ ”
They are fellow movie buffs, fellow obsessors over Marty McFly and his travels back to see his parents as teenagers. The affable Gum doesn’t mind (although it would be nice if people asked before plopping themselves down).
The DeLorean appeared as a featured vehicle in January’s Midlands International Auto Show alongside brand-new, high-end vehicles such as Corvettes and Lamborghinis. It was another chance for local fans of Back to the Future to interact with, and dream about owning, the iconic vehicle.
As for Gum’s DeLorean, it is a frequent prop in Glow in the Dark’s photo shoots and was used onstage at an August concert at OutrSpaces. Gum jokingly asked about bringing the car onstage and—to his surprise—was told, “You know, if you drive it around the back, you can probably get it in the door.” He did, and the car was positioned between Gum and bandmate Lawrence Deal during
Since then, he hasn’t worked on making the car more movie-authentic because he’s been working on restoring another piece of movie-themed nostalgia, a Back to the Future pinball machine that was manufactured for only four months in the summer of 1990.
“How many people get to have a pinball machine with their car in it?” Gum says.
Visit @glowglowdarkdark on Facebook for more information about the band, including images of the DeLorean.
This article was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.