The Delorean Hovercraft auction is now LIVE! It will run for 7 days, until Monday, November 4th, 2019!
The auction is hosted on specialty vintage car auction site BringATrailer.com
Link to the listing: https://bringatrailer.com/listing/delorean-dmc-12-hovercraft
What you get:
Hand-built hovercraft sculpted to look exactly like a Delorean
Custom flatbed tilting trailer built specifically for this hovercraft
Miscellaneous spare parts and supplies including spare engine parts, fans and propellers, nuts and bolts, cloth cover to keep it out of the sun, etc.
Free phone consultations with me for any technical questions you might have.
The Hovercraft is based on the blueprints for the Universal Hovercraft UH-13PT. The basic shape of the hull, skirt, and fan ducts come from those blueprints, but pretty much everything else is customized. The Delorean body is made out of styrofoam wrapped in fiberglass and painted with metallic paint. The 36” thrust fan is powered by a 23hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard riding lawnmower-style engine. The 24” lift fan is powered by a B&S 875 Professional Series push mower engine. The hull of the craft hovers about 6-8 inches over the surface, and can hover over anything relatively flat: land, water, ice, snow, sand, asphalt, etc. The top speed with the current thrust configuration is 31 mph on the water in ideal conditions.
I have spent the last year remodeling and upgrading many of the systems on the craft, including:
New stronger skirt (is translucent, not totally transparent like the last version)
Brand new thrust engine (installed summer 2019). Same 23hp Vanguard twin cylinder model, but with high performance head gaskets and camshaft, and a hi-rev kit so it can safely run at higher RPMs. Also potted the alternator in epoxy resin for corrosion protection.
New fuel line, fuel pump, water separator fuel filter
Patched and strengthened deck where water leaked into hull
New LED lights in the tires, under the hull, and in cockpit
All new wiring with waterproof switches and connectors
Repaired thrust engine cover
New more convenient lift engine cover
New lift engine
New lift engine air intake system
New stainless steel lift supports for doors
Patched fiberglass delaminations in bodywork
Fresh coat of metallic paint
New stronger rudders
The point is, the hovercraft is in the best shape of its life! I’ve taken all the lessons I’ve learned from 7 years of hovering this thing and made it into something I can confidently pass on to another adventurer.
I think the video footage speaks for itself, but I really think this is the most fun watercraft you could possibly own! It’s ridiculously fun just to drive and to play with, and it’s fun to see the joy in all the people around you when their minds are blown and they beg you for rides! This craft has given me the time of my life, so many amazing memories, new friendships, and opportunities, and I’m excited to see what it can do for you!
Dimensions: The hovercraft itself is 76.75" x 172.75" (plus 2.5-8" for the rudders, depending on their position. But the whole rudder system can be easily removed if necessary). The rectangular hull is 71" x 162.5". The trailer is 82.5" wide. The trailer deck is 166" long. The whole trailer is 193.75" long when the hinged tongue is retracted (a nice space-saving feature!) and 217.75" when the tongue is extended and locked in place for trailering. The hovercraft weighs about 580 lbs.
Limitations: the performance of a hovercraft is influenced by weight, wind, surface conditions, and water currents. The more weight in the craft, the slower it will accelerate. The top speed is only marginally affected by weight. Going up wind will slow you down, doing downwind can speed you up if the water surface is still calm. Big chops or wakes will slow the craft down. It will just hover over smaller chops, but calm water is obviously best. A common scenario for me has been driving with about 325 lbs between the two passengers 10 knot winds, light surface texture (maybe 6" chops), and was still really fun. I don’t know what the hard limits would be, but generally if the water is whitecapping it’s better to wait for calmer winds or find a more protected spot. It can drive on land but you would need a huge flat area free from obstacles or other vehicles, so it’s pretty much always driven on the water.
Hovercrafts are not allowed in National Parks. Bummer.
It’s pretty loud, roughly as loud as 2 lawnmowers. Passengers never have minded the noise as long as they have earplugs.
You will get wet in the cockpit when hovering on water. If you install the optional windshield (and keep the doors closed while hovering) you will stay mostly dry, but water still drips through around the edges of the doors. The windshield limits visibility, so extra caution is required. There are new hydrophobic coatings that seem to be even better than Rain-X at helping with visibility. I recently used one called TopCoat F11 and the visibility was great! All coatings tend to wear off and need to be re-applied after a full day of hovering.
There is no way to reverse the thrust on this hovercraft, which I originally thought would make things difficult but has actually been a non-issue, once I got used to the craft’s style of maneuvering. If I get into a tight spot (this is rare), I can shut off the engines and use the oars to back out of it.
If you will be hovering on salt water, it’s important to wash the craft down with fresh water as soon as possible after hovering. Lawnmower engines are not designed to withstand salt spray. I have protected them as much as I think is possible, but some corrosion is inevitable.
The thin plastic of the dashboard can warp if it gets too hot.
Moisture in the hull: When I made the hull of the craft (the flat slab of styrofoam that everything is built on top of), I used 1/8" door skin plywood as the decking material (covered in a layer of fiberglass). This plywood is not waterproof and sometimes if a crack develops in the fiberglass coating, water will seep into and dampen the plywood. Eventually, especially if left in the hot sun, damp areas of plywood will delaminate and you will notice an air bubble in the deck. It's pretty simple to just cut it out and replace it with Coremat/Baltek Mat (a kind of thick fiberglass that won't absorb water) and fiberglass. Over the years I have replaced many patches of the deck with this better material, and I would expect that delaminations could continue to happen, especially if the deck is cracked or punctured at all. The hull is made of white beaded EPS foam ("styrofoam"), which actually can absorb small amounts of water. It's just inevitable that the hull and body panels will have some moisture content. And there are some parts of the decking that are damp underneath the fiberglass, but just aren't noticeably delaminated or are too hard to get to to make it worth replacing. As far as I know, none of this matters or will inhibit the performance of the hovercraft, beyond the slight addition of weight from the added moisture spread throughout the material.
Maintenance costs would totally depend on how it's used. If you only took it out occasionally and drove safely and didn't crash it, maintenance costs could be pretty close to zero. I've done a lot of work and upgrades on it to make it reliable. If it's driven on salt water, corrosion will happen faster than on fresh water. The more frequently it's used, the faster engine components could wear out (lift engine has about 22 hours on it, the new thrust engine has about 8. They should have plenty of life in them). If something did go wrong with an engine, the cost would depend on if you want to send it to a local lawnmower shop or do the repair yourself (repairs are generally simple and easy and all parts can be bought online). Or if you crash and need to do fiberglass repair, you could pay a boat repair person to fix the fiberglass or you could do it yourself. The skirt can and will get holes in it from wear and tear, but it's easy to patch with vinyl glue. After a few years of hovering, especially if it's used frequently, the skirt should probably be replaced. The other maintenance issue I should mention is that the brass bushings of the carburetor valves have seized up before (3 valves seized in 7 years). This has not happened since I used a special high-heat anti-seize on them, but I still am including an extra already-modified carburetor for each engine, just in case. In general, I would say the maintenance needs are pretty similar to a regular car or boat (if you don't crash it, maintenance costs should be minimal, but a significant failure could cost hundreds or more to fix).
I use a 4 cylinder Tacoma truck to trailer it, you don't need a big diesel or anything. But a truck would be nice, to carry the supplies (like the "tires", the dashboard, oars, trailer ramp, etc). When I arrive at the boat ramp it takes about 35-60 minutes until I'm ready to launch, depending on how many bells and whistles I'm using that day, and how much I want to engage with all the fans who come up and want to talk about it.
You will need to register the hovercraft as a boat with the DMV. The hovercraft comes with the basic safety supplies the coastguard requires. It also comes with fenders, although tying up to a dock or another boat is tricky because of the shape of the Delorean body.
I tested all the metallic paints I could find and found one that looks convincingly close to stainless steel! But the finish is fairly fragile, so be careful to not smudge it or use harsh cleaners on it.
Located in San Francisco, CA 94116. Buyer arranges pick-up. I can take you out hovering when you pick it up and teach you how to drive it!