From the soft, reclined driver's seat, you notice nothing of the distant 90-degree V-6's uneven firing interval (it lacks split crankpins), only how superbly mellow it is. Like all Bosch K-Jetronic fuel-injected cars, the De Lorean is a delight to drive smoothly, and the five-speed manual transmission's shift action is surprisingly precise. The steering is modern-car quick and lacks power assist -- unnecessary in a 2800-pound car with little more than a third of its weight up front. Not much feedback comes through the wheel, but the Lotus backbone's meager torsional rigidity allows the steering column -- and the rest of the interior -- to rattle around over bumps.
The interior of Christopher Kiss's 14,500-mile 1981 De Lorean is finished in the optional gray, which relieves much of the claustrophobia that bothered original road testers. Compared with modern cars and their high sills, visibility from inside the De Lorean is surprisingly good. Airflow through the tiny side windows? Not so much.
We had to restrain ourselves from asking if the paint was original, because, as we know, the De Lorean isn't painted. Kiss gives his car an annual once-over with Ajax, just like he's cleaning his kitchen sink -- touch-ups are done with a scouring pad. And we were careful not to fondle his car too much during the photo shoot -- if you think your stainless-steel fridge is hard to keep free of fingerprints, imagine a whole car in sunlight.
We couldn't, of course, stop ourselves from trying to hit 88 mph. Dense traffic and the laid-back V-6 conspired against us, but in retrospect, hitting that speed -- and inducing time travel -- was unnecessary. Now that the De Lorean itself is as old as the 1950s cruisers in Back to the Future were, we already know that John De Lorean's creation lived up to one of its main goals: being truly timeless.