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West Richland man nabs dream car: a DeLorean (aka the 'Back to the Future' car)

Most guys dream of owning a sports car -- Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche.

Steve Critchlow of West Richland fell in love with the DeLorean DMC-12 the first time he saw it in 1981, when it premiered at a state fair in Massachusetts.

When the car became the iconic time machine in the film series Back to the Future, that only made Critchlow's fondness for the vehicle more endearing.

"I wanted that car the minute I saw it, long before the movie came out," Critchlow said. "But I didn't buy one until 1997, when I found one I could afford."

He paid $8,000 for his 1981 DeLorean, and it didn't even run. But that didn't matter to this retired jack-of-all-trades.

"I love to tinker on things, and it didn't take much to get it running again," he said. "I've redone the upholstery, too, and a few other things. There's always something to do with an old car."

His son, Adam, loves the car as much as his dad, and would love to buy.

"Dad bought the car while (the family) was on vacation in a small town on Puget Sound," Adam told the Herald in an email. "We were all on a walk around the neighborhood. As we turned a corner, my father saw something that caught his attention. Soon enough, we realized he was looking at two DeLoreans in a driveway, one of them for sale."

At first, Critchlow talked himself out of buying the car, but after mulling it over with the family, he bought it and made arrangements to have it transported to the Tri-Cities.

Father and son worked on the car together for the next few years.

"I had the privilege of taking it to my senior prom," Adam said. "I was the only one in the family to take it out for anything other than a short drive around the block. And, I was always too paranoid to take it out without my father's permission. But it was always fun to drive.

"It's a special feeling to drive a one-of-a-kind car like that. It's one of those cars you feel completely in control of -- no computers or electronics between the driver and the car."

The elder Critchlow admits he spends more time tinkering on the classic than actually driving it, which he's done about a dozen times since he bought it.

"I love the car, but I'm really more a people person than a car person," he said. "There's something about this car I love and would hate to part with it. Maybe because it's unique and so few of them are even left today. I've seen one other DeLorean in the Tri-City area, and talked to the owner once, though I can't remember his name."

A recent back injury put a damper on how much time Critchlow can spend working on the DeLorean, which has a 2.85 liter V-6 rear-mounted Peugeot Renault Volvo engine.

When he does drive the car, he does his best not to exceed the posted speed limits. However, he feels confident the sports car can achieve the 88 mph required for time travel.

"But first I need to locate the required flux capacitor," he joked.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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