Like all children of the Back To The Future generation, we can vividly remember the moment Marty spies his nemesis Griff Tannen in his hover BMW during the second installment of the futuristic trilogy — though we were never huge enough fans to track down the original movie car, buy it and attempt a complete restoration. Jeff Chabotte on the other hand, did just that. The fan of all things McFly bought the BMW 633-based "hover craft" from a fellow BTTF fanboy. Chabotte then restored the car to movie condition — obviously, and sadly, without flight capabilities. Like our other hero of the week who built a Lamborghini in his basement, Chabotte spent his blood, sweat and tears on this project strictly for the love of the car. We get that.
We are, of course, big fans of BTTF-related automobiles and have visited the new Delorean HQ to test drive a refurbished Delorean DMC-12. That being said, we're not quite so committed as Jeff. A funny sidenote to this story, the events that occur in the film involving the BMW are to occur almost exactly seven years into the future from this post. The story of his work below.
In late 2004, I was presented the opportunity by a fellowBack to the Future collector to acquire a huge piece of memorabilia from the films. That piece turned out to be the BMW used by the character Griff Tannen in the future sequence in the Café 80's and hoverboard chase sequence. After making my way down the east coast from Connecticut to Georgia with my dad, we were soon in possession of the car. We ended up hauling it on a u-haul trailer on the back of a Jeep and smack-dab into the center of the blizzard of that December, right on the D.C. Beltway. We finally made it home safely and the work began. What you're probably interested are the details. It's a 1976 633 CSI. This was the first year of production for the 6-series and this car was one of the first 400 off the line. From what I gather and during my restoration I found that it appeared to be originally silver. The car is a Euro-spec model with less than 75K miles on it. This was the model that BMW introduced the status panel to the left of the steering wheel. Also, that beautiful shark nose has always been my favorite BMW styling cue. The car was a gray-market import, but the paperwork has long-since been lost. Going through the car, was quite a rush. I had approximately a month to hunt down missing parts from the movie, replace the interior, fix previous bodywork, fabricate missing bodywork and paint the car and get it ready for a car show in early February. After contacting another car guy who had some available space to work on it, the car was hauled to his garage and work was quickly started. As you can see from some of the pics, there is a lot of one-off fabrication done on this car. The roof was chopped off and steel beams welded to the undercarriage to obtain the roadster look, without having the car fold in on itself like an accordion. Replacing where the rear window sat, was a custom deck lid that had long since disappeared. A temporary job had been put in place, but I decided to hack it to the core and build a new one out of fiberglass and bondo that more closely resembled the screen-used version. Some hover conversion parts were scattered all the way up to New Jersey and I was able to locate those and then get them to a prop house in New York for reproduction as the originals were badly damaged. Speaking of originals, 3 of those tires are still original from the film, along with the broken taillight lens. A few long and excitement-filled weeks later, the car was ready for showing. Think of the high-pressure you see on "American Chopper" and multiply that by like 10, remove the jerk attitudes and high-budget shops and tools and there you have it. Currently, I'm hoping to find a dealership here in the northeast (or anywhere) that would like to display the car in exchange for working on it. There is still a lot to be done with the car, like getting the drive train straightened out, along with wiring the 320i taillights in, and making it roadworthy. Oh, that's right, I don't NEED roads.
If anyone knows a BMW dealership in the greater New England area don't hesitate to drop a note in the comments. Thanks to Jeff for sharing this wonderful and weird story with all of us.