- "He [Doc] looked around his workshop, which was nothing more than a garage filled with the detritus and equipment that had been accumulated over a forty-year period. Some of that gear included a jet engine, piles of circuit boards, enough automobile parts to build at least two cars, a short-wave radio, Seeburg jukebox, workbench with welding equipment, the remnants of a robot, a working refrigerator, and dozens of clocks."
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 25 and 26)
- "Doc led the way into his lab — or at least what was left of it. / The place had been trashed. A lot of Doc's gizmos had been torn apart. Pieces of experiments and bits of broken glass littered the floor, crunching underfoot as they walked. The windows had all been smashed, and most of them had been boarded up. The electricity was gone, too. Doc had lit a pair of candles when they entered, and handed one to Marty. He then proceeded to walk around the edges of the lab, lighting other strategically placed candles from the first one's flame until the entire room was filled with a warm glow. / It didn't matter, though. It could have stayed dark for all Marty cared. His father — dead?"
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 122)
Initially, the garage served primarily as Doc's laboratory, but when the mansion burned down in 1962, the garage became a free-standing structure that was eventually built around as Riverside Drive became John F. Kennedy Drive; by 1985, it was adjacent to a Burger King restaurant. It served as Doc's home from that point on.
In 1955 and 1985, Doc kept the key to the garage under a potted plant outside the door. In 1985, when Marty McFly pointed out to Doc — who had called Marty to ask him to stop by the garage on his way to Twin Pines Mall and pick up the video camera — that this was the first place a burglar would look, Doc said he hadn't been robbed yet and nobody would ever suspect the garage contained a billion dollars' worth of research due to its looking somewhat dilapidated.
In 1955, Doc stored his Packard there. It was fairly clean, though some areas were set aside for experimentation. The garage also had a separate room which apparently served as Doc's study, with an armchair where he could sit down, and in which were displayed four portraits of famous scientists — namely Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.
When Marty McFly arrived in the past, they used it as a test bed for the DeLorean time machine and Doc built a demonstration model of downtown Hill Valley. Being a responsible scientist, Doc kept a fire extinguisher in the garage in the event that one of his experiments should go wrong, which it did on this occasion when an explosion on the model table caused the windup toy car used to represent the DeLorean time machine to catch fire; the burning car then shot straight off the edge of the table, rolled along the floor and set a large cloth on the other side of the garage ablaze. Doc quickly grabbed the extinguisher and put the fire out.
By 1985, the garage had become a mess. Inside was a large CRM-114 amplifier, over sixty clocks all set at exactly the same time (though exactly twenty-five minutes slow), a television set, an automatic dog feeder, and a stolen case of plutonium that Doc obtained from Libyan terrorists.
In the alternate 1985, the garage was abandoned after Doc was committed into a mental institution. Items were disheveled and had gathered dust and cobwebs, while the garage itself had been trashed by vandals.
Due to young Emmett developing a better relationship with his father, a new present was created in which Doc and his family stayed in the present. As a result, the estate sale was now just a garage sale.
Behind the scenes
- In the first film, sixty-three clocks can be seen, including one digital, and one that shows Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock tower from Safety Last, foreshadowing the events later in the film. Initially, they all read 7:53 a.m., just before Marty enters, except for the one closest to the box of plutonium that had the correct time of 8:18.
- The actual garage for the Gamble House in Pasadena served as the exterior for the 1955 scenes. A replica was constructed for the closeups and set up adjacent to the Burger King in Burbank for the filming of the lone exterior scene in 1985. The interior shots were filmed on a soundstage.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future Part III
- Back to the Future: The Game