- "He [Doc] pointed to a new switch on the dashboard labeled MR. FUSION HOME ENERGY CENTER, hit it and grinned with satisfaction as the DeLorean rolled about a hundred yards down the street, blasted off into the sky trailing a thin flume of silver smoke, and then disappeared."
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 248)
- "He [Doc] reached out to the dashboard [of the DeLorean time machine] and flicked a switch that Marty didn't recognize. There was a sound just outside the car. Marty leaned over the top of the door just enough to see that the wheels were rotating ninety degrees to flatten beneath the bottom of the car. / That meant the tires were no longer touching the ground. / That meant they had to be flying! / Doc gunned the car into the sky. / Marty and Jennifer looked at each other. / Nobody would ever believe this."
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 11)
A hover conversion was an application to a ground vehicle to enable it to fly.
The popularity of hover conversion led to problems like great trash storms, where many people would drop their trash from their hover cars while in flight. The excess of trash led to one hundred million Mr. Fusion units being sold, which were powered by the trash.
On October 21, 2045, Griff Tannen uploaded a virus to the popular social network created by GriffTech, ThingMeme. It was supposed to flash the word butthead on every object on Earth, but instead, the virus causes a short circuit in the Mr. Fusion network, causing a nuclear explosion in all one hundred million of the tiny nuclear reactors present in every unit.
On October 21, 2015, Dr. Emmett Brown traveled to the past to prevent the invention of hover conversion technology by 2015 in order to prevent the nuclear holocaust of 2045. He was successful, so the use of the technology in 2015 that he had originally witnessed never came to pass.
Hover conversion in the original timeline
In the original 2015 timeline, the hoverwheels of the DeLorean time machine, and the 2015 police car would fold down when in flight. Exclusively on the DeLorean, the rims and the rear louvers would glow when the car was hovering, or accelerating while in flight. Flying circuits were inserted into the vehicle. It is unknown if there was another source of lift other than thrust, such as anti-gravity or magnetism. Considering the loads that some vehicles produced, and that thrust was not always applied when a vehicle first lifted up, it is feasible that these alternatives could have been used. In Hill Valley in 2015, a basic hover conversion only cost around $39,999.95. Goldie Wilson III was a car salesman who converted ground vehicles into "skyway flyers". The skyways used hovering lane dividers and signage in order to keep airway travel safe.
On August 8, 2015, Doc won first prize at the Hill Valley 1980s Car Expo with his DeLorean, which was 10% off a hover conversion worth $3995.00 at Goldie Wilson Hover Conversion Systems. To get the money he needed for this and the Mr. Fusion, which he had spotted in a store window for $8200 and considered ideal for solving all his electrical energy needs, Doc searched the internet for the best investment to make, then traveled back to April 18, 1938 to pick up several new copies of Action Comics issue #1.
He sold one in 2015 or beyond to get the money he needed, and then traveled to 2015 or beyond, and sold another at Southby's Auction House for $2.5 million dollars.
It would appear that at some point afterwards Doc discovered Marty McFly Jr. and his sister Marlene were sent to jail for being involved in a robbery plot. The Jules Verne Train Doc built after becoming stuck in 1885 was also hover converted in 2015. It can only be assumed that Goldie Wilson Hover Conversion Systems also carried out the work in this case.
A group of individuals, led by Maynard Hornbuckle III, vice president for consumer affairs of the auto watchdog group Edsel Inc., had begun to boycott automakers and refuse to buy a new automobile for the next three years, because Hornbuckle felt that car owners were not getting the value they deserved and the cost of owning and operating a family car was "absolutely astronomical". An article titled CAR OWNERS REVOLT was billed in the Newsline column in the October 22 issue of USA Today, and a news story titled Auto rebels form organization appeared at the bottom of the front page.
A Newsline column of the October 22 issue of USA Today also billed an article titled MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK FLYING HIRES NEW LOBBYIST, which mentioned that Katie Pearson was leading a campaign to install kill-switch breathalyzers in flying cars.
In 1931, young Emmett Brown invented a process to make a flying car, using his future pet Einstein as the first test pilot. But he abandoned any plans to proceed with the experiment after the test flight landed Einstein on the roof of City Hall. Thus, stirring up trouble with Edna Strickland. This and the discovery of the technical principles behind Goldie Wilson III's product may simply be coincidental. But during the short flight, some visual similarities to the thrusters on the test vehicle and the DeLorean's flight mode can be observed.
Behind the scenes
- The $39,999.95 cost of a hover conversion is most likely a reference to Earl Scheib's television commercials in the 1980s. As the owner of the largest chain of low-cost auto body repair shops in the U.S., his well-known tagline in the 1950s originally stated, "I'll paint any car any color for only $29.99", but by the 1980s his price had increased to $39.99. The extra nines in the price of a hover conversion are a comment on the inflated prices expected in the future, and the marketing tactic of quoting prices just five cents less than a round number.
- The closest we have come to hover technology that would be small enough to put in a machine the size of a traditional automobile are unmanned aerial vehicles, although they currently lack the ability to hover in place without propellers. Advanced Tactics of El Segundo, California is developing a prototype VTOL aircraft for the military that has driving capabilities but uses eight propellers and is 25 feet long, much larger than the hovercars in the movie.
- Flying cars are expected to hit the commercial market in 2016 from a Massachusetts-based company named Terrafugia with a propeller-and-jet based car with collapsible wings.
- Back to the Future trilogy
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- Back to the Future Part II & III
- Back to the Future: The Ride
- Back to the Future comic series
- Back to the Future: The Pinball
- Super Back to the Future Part II
- Universal Studios: Theme Park Adventure
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Doc Brown Saves the World
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)
- Special "front page wrap" for real life October 22, 2015 issue of USA Today (see 'External links' below).
- "Multicopter meets monster truck: The AT Transformer roadable VTOL aircraft" - New Atlas (see 'External links' below).