A DeLorean found in a Dousman barn captured international interest. Find out if it runs.

Covered in two decades of dust, a 1981 DeLorean with 977 miles was unearthed from a barn in Dousman in October.

It sat for so long the tires were sunk deep into the dirt.

Mike McElhattan of DeLorean Midwest and his business partner Kevin Thomas dragged the auto into the sunlight for the first time in 18 years.

Days later, back in the shop in Crystal Lake, Illinois, the duo tried to start the dirty DeLorean.

The starter clicked, but the engine remained silent, reminiscent of the first “Back to the Future” movie when Marty McFly couldn’t get the time machine started and yelled, “please, please.”

But McElhattan, unlike McFly, got it running without having to headbutt the steering wheel. He did have to smack the starter with a hammer, however.

The engine seemed to run smoothly.

“That was a big hurdle,” he said. “We had to make sure the engine was good and not locked up.”

The DeLorean NATION YouTube channel, run by McElhattan and Thomas, is chronicling the progress of this famous barn find. Things seem to be going smoothly as the team takes its time going through the vehicle, checking spark plugs and replacing the battery.

“This one seems like it’s going to come back without a heck of a lot of fight,” McElhattan said.

Not much has happened with the car since a Nov. 2 video posted to the YouTube page showing the car running briefly. McElhattan said he’s working to “get the right detailer” to come out and clean the DeLorean. Filled with mouse droppings and dirt, the inside needs a lot of work.

McElhattan has obtained more paperwork on the car since purchasing it, including the original bill of sale from the dealership, Hall Chevrolet on North Avenue in Milwaukee. The dealership owned the car from 1981 to 1991 and put on about 630 miles, according to a plate transfer document. Dick, the 90-year-old owner who sold the car to McElhattan, brought the odometer up to 977 miles where it sits today.

“Now we know the car all the way back to when it was new,” McElhattan said of the documents, adding this confirms the mileage is genuine.

Not across time, but this DeLorean has reached across space

The story of this barn find has reached an international audience, McElhattan said. He’s done interviews with the BBC of Northern Ireland and has sent photo rights to Germany, Australia and Norway.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” he said. “The recognizability of the car because of the “Back to the Future” trilogy is really widespread.”

Three people have called wanting to purchase the car, but McElhattan said he and Thomas want to see the DeLorean drive under its own power before they sell it.

“Kevin and I are somewhat falling for the thing,” he said.

McElhattan was also contacted by someone with his same last name.

“They emailed me wanting to know if we might be related,” he said with a laugh.

Not just buyers, but sellers have also contacted DeLorean Midwest since the story spread. McElhattan is coordinating more possible purchases in the future.

He did pick up another DeLorean in Madison this month.

“It’s not a barn find, it’s a car we’ve known for a long time,” McElhattan said.

After about 17 years in the business of buying, fixing and selling DeLoreans, McElhattan said it can still be hard to pass some of these limited cars along, but “you can’t keep them all.”

“I’ll be like the old cat lady but with DeLoreans,” he joked.

McElhattan does own one car he will never part with ― the first DeLorean he ever bought which he did sell at one point, but was able to buy back years later. He said it’s not the lowest mileage, not the nicest he’s seen, but it’s his and always will be.

Contact Erik S. Hanley at erik.hanley@jrn.com. Like his Facebook page, The Redheadliner, and follow him on X @Redheadliner.

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