Introduction: Delorean DMC-12/BTTF Time Machine 3D Printed RC Car

About: I am passionate about racing cars and racing technology. I build designs that hopefully shock and amaze the 3d printing world, in an attempt to push the limits

Almost everyone loves Back to The Future and the Delorean Time Machine. It earned a place in my heart the moment it ran over McFly's trash cans. When Doc Brown refueled the Mr. Fusion reactor before he, Marty, and Jennifer jumped in and took flight, going into the future in front of Biff Tanner—I was hooked. For me, this is by far the most iconic movie car to have ever existed.

I designed the car in Fusion 360 years ago planning to turn it into an RC car, but that never happened. The project was mothballed until recently. When the world ended with COVID, I decided to build the car to try to help put a smile on people's faces.

Download and build your own, and remember "Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads." —Doc Brown.

Step 1: History of Project

Back in 2017 I felt that we were actually living in Back to The Future II with Biff Tanner. So I started designing a Delorean.

I released renderings and CAD design of the car in 2017. It was a hit and I received many comments and requests to use the car for company projects. Although I always had an idea to transform the car and make it a 3D printed car.

Some of the challenges to make a Delorean RC car was that a passenger car's shape in 3D printing would require fine parts around the door sills and window areas. In a real car at normal size, these areas could be strong—especially for the Delorean made out of stainless steel they could be thin, but at 1:10 the size, these areas would be thin and needed an integrated roll cage to thicken and strengthen the thin design of these pillars.

Also you cannot make a Delorean without making its gull-wing doors functional. That was especially challenging being that without the doors opening, that would eliminate the problems with the thin A-pillars, but now you have a situation where those thin A-pillars will have to support the weight of the wheels and the force of doors slamming down.

Renderings can be solid blocks that are only nice on the outside, bringing the Delorean to real life would require gutting the model and developing multiple components that had to work and exists near each other while also factoring in the body roll and bump of suspension parts.

I'm also big about detail (especially if you have checked out my previous projects of motorcycles and race cars). All of that equals multiple components and multiple 3d printed parts so that we create as lifelike a Delorean as we can.

I started converting the car in 2019, but never finished it. Because of Quranatine, I decided to finish it to release it in this competition so it can put a smile on people's faces.

Cover Story in RC CAR ACTION March 2021

Step 2: Schematics

The Back to the Future Time Machine was based on a 1982 Delorean DMC-12, and just like the movie car my RC car is based on a DMC-12 RC car. Our first step is to build the DMC-12—bumpers and all, then we will attach the Time Machine parts to make the Back to the Future Time Machine RC car.

The benefit of this two cars in one is that you get to choose your own path: if you're a Delorean DMC-12 fan, then you can build that and have an accurate recreation of this iconic car, and if you want the Time Machine, then you add the Time Machine parts and relive your childhood fantasies of driving the car that defined a generation.

Building this model is definitely expert level. Don't let that discourage you. Take your time, and build it carefully. Most of the parts require supports.

All of the holes are pre-treaded in the STL file, but it is still good to have an m3 tap available to clean up any threads.

Tools needed are Allen wrenches, pliers, drill, hot glue gun, 5-minute epoxy, and a razor blade or knife.

Step 3: 3D Printed STL Files


Step 4: Print Body Sections

Filament Colors: Light Gray, Aluminum (dark gray), Black, Red, White

Supports are needed on most parts. Print at 20% settings for body parts and 80%-100% for suspension parts.

Body sections are bolted together as well as glued together. The Delorean is a unibody, so the body forms the chassis. set the gray sections aside, and we will start assembling the chassis in the next section.

Step 5: Sourcing Parts

After building many cars, I've learned from people that sourcing the parts starts to become a burden. Mainly because RC manufacturers quickly come out with new models and the part numbers quickly become obsolete. To address this, instead of giving a list of part numbers that will only give you spare parts, I now recommend buying a kit.

The kit that I bought for parts to build the Delorean is the Tamiya F104 Pro II.

This kit retails for $200 new, and cheaper for assembled cars. This kit is widely available and easy to source.

In that kit you have almost every single bolt and RC component that you need to complete the build. It even has extra screws included in the kit can also be used to assembly the Delorean body.

The rear pod, rear differential, front suspension, tires, and rear shock will all be used form the kit. We use the T-bar from the kit.

Electronic parts that will be needed are a 1:10 RC motor, ESC, battery, and RC car controller

Step 6: Assembling the Rear Axle and Rear Damper

Rear Axle/Motor Cage

1. Assemble the Tamiya rear motor cage with m3 x8 screws

2. Install Bearing Holder with 6x10x3 bearings.

3. Assemble F104 rear axle following the Tamiya manual.

4. Install axle into motor cage.

5. Install Motor with appropriate screws for the motor.

6. Install motor cage onto the Tamiya F104 Pro II T-Bar with (4) m3x8 flat head screws.

7. Install Tamiya D12 (plastic part) onto the T-Bar with an O-ring from the Tamiya kit in the F104 Pro II Manual step 1.

Step 7: Rear Damper

Rear Damper

1. Attach the T-Bar mounts to the D12 with the Tamiya supplied M3x35 bolts.

2. Screw into the Upper Suspension Deck, at the hole that is at the centerline of the part, an m3x20 screw. Place a washer and an m3 nut on the screw as in step 13 of the Tamiya manual.

3. Attach the Upper Suspension Deck to the top of the D12 Tamiya plastic piece, and screw it in with two m3 nuts.

4. Assemble the Tamiya Damper according to the Tamiya manual step 18.

5. Screw the Damper into the motor cage with two m3x10 screws.

Step 8: Building and Installing Front Suspension

Steering Rack

1. Assembly the steering rack by placing two m3 turnbuckles from the F104 kit and screwing them into the steering rack 3d printed part.

2. Attach two ball cups onto each end.

Assembling the Front Suspension Bridge Assembly

1. Place the upper and lower suspension arm together around the suspension bridge.

2. Install Front Suspension with (2) m3x12 flathead screws.

3. Place the Tamiya F104 uprights between.

4. Slide in the m3x30 rod, placing a clip on the top.

5. Slide in the front suspension spring and attach a c-clip to the bottom.

6. Install a ball end onto the servo arm.

7. Install the steering rack onto the servo arm

8. Install the servo arm onto the servo. Make sure the servo arm is tight.

9. Slide the Brige Assembly into the car so that the front slips into the slot on the front lip and the rear slides into the box on the black bottom chassis.

10. Affix with (3) m3x8 bots.

Step 9: Install the Rear Pod Into the Chassis

Install the Rear bod into the chassis

13. Screw the rear pod into the chassis by first screwing the T-bar into the black chassis with two m3x8 screws. Affix with m3 nuts.

14. screw the T-bar mounts into the chassis with (4) m3x10 nuts.

15. Place two m3x35 screws through the chassis and the Upper Deck Mount. Place two o-rings from the Tamiya kit on top of the screws and place the4 Upper Suspension Deck's holes over the bolts, locking the o-rings into place and affixing them with nuts. This is in the Tamiya manual in step 14.

Step 10: Installing Electronics

1. Install Hitec HS-77BB Servo into servo holder and install with (2) m3x8 Flathead screws.

3. Install servo arm onto servo.

4. Install battery into the center of the car, attach it with a piece of double-stick tape.

5. Install Ball stud onto battery cage.

6. Place the battery cage over the battery and screw it in with two (2) m3x12 flathead screws and (2) m3 nuts.

7. Install ESC and Receiver with automotive double stick tape.

8. Using pliers, attach the rear shock to the ball stud on the battery cage.

Step 11: Assembling the DMC-12 Body

1. screw in the body sections with (6) m3x10 flat head screws.

Step 12: Installing the Gull-wing Doors

1. The door hinges use (1) m2x20 pin that slides into the door hinge.

2. attach the hinge to the door with (2) m3x8 screws and (2) m3x8 nuts.

3. place the door on the roof, so that the m2 pin fits into the roof and screw in the pin holders on each side, bolting them to the roof with (4) m3x8 screws and (4) m3x8 nuts.

4. Door holders should be glued into the bottom floor and the door. A 3/8 n50 magnet 🧲 will hold the door shut when you are driving.

Step 13: Turning the Delorean Into a Time Machine

The Time machine parts attach to the outside of the DMC-12 body. The parts are glued on. Use a hot glue gun to first attach the truster, then the center mount, and then the center tank.

Step 14: Wheels

1. Place Tamiya F104 Pro Tires to the wheels

2. Glue the tires onto the rims with superglue/CA glue.

3. Attach the front wheels with m4 lock nuts

4. Attach the rear wheels with m4 flanged lock nuts

Step 15: Optional: Add EL Rope for the Time Machine Blue Effect

Buy Blue EL rope. Nine feet of EL rope is okay, but longer is better.

1. Drill two holes in all of the time machine parts. You will make two passes of the cable. For the front I drilled a 4mm hole (first going smaller drill size and then working up to the 4mm drill bit).

2. starting at the driverside front bumper, I routed the rope through, weaving it through the other side, then front inside the body, outside the roof ont passengerside, then through the holes on the bottom by the bumper on the time machine part, then back out the other side and back through the roof.

3. Repeat for a second pass to widen the light bar.

4. Once you have it all situated, glue it onto the 3d printed parts with the hot glue gun.

5. Use a razor and a flat head screwdriver to remove any hot glue excess.

6. Place black electrical tape over wire in the crossover sections so that those areas will be blacked out.

7. Place the battery unit inside the car with tape so that it does not roll around in the body.

Step 16: Finished RC Car

Step 17: Get Out There and Hit 88 Mph!

Disclaimer: Not responsible for any damage to the space-time continuum or any fire damage to buildings or streets.

3D Printed Contest

First Prize in the
3D Printed Contest