Ok, in November 12, 1955 Marty watches the leap to 1885 of Doc Brown (the lightning bolt), then immediately receives the letter from Doc, and travels back to 1885 to save him.

Marty arrives on September 2, 1885. The fuel tank is broken and Marty hides the car inside the cave and all that.

Then, since Marty is in a time when the Doc arrives first in the DeLorean, then this doesn't imply that there are two cars from September 2, 1885 to September 7 of the same year, the one where Doc leaps, and the one where Marty goes back to the 1885.

This could simplify a lot of things, for instance the gasoline leaked from the tank.

  • 19
    Some of the plot is getting scrambled in your question. Doc gets hit by lilghtning and jumps to 1885. He hides his DeLorean in the cave, and sends the letter, allowing Marty to find the cave and take the DeLorean that's been sitting for 70 years back to 1885 as well. Which is when Marty leaks all the gas out. There are two DeLoreans... but one is sitting in a cave waiting for Marty to find it 70 years later, and is therefore out of the plot. (I'd swear this has been asked before as well, but I'm having trouble finding it).
    – Radhil
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 14:30
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    A better question might be "why didnt he just buy some gas...?" as it was generally available from 1870 onward :) The additives needed for a post-WW2 engine were easy enough to get hold of as well...
    – Moo
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 17:46
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    I remember watching this I the cinema, and saying to the friend I was there with “Why don’t they just take the part off the other DeLorean?””What other DeLorean?” He replied. “The one in the cave.” I said. “Errr - my head hurts” he said.
    – Steve Ives
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 18:42
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    @Draco18s In 1985, there were several thousand. But only three of them were time machines.
    – Ray
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 23:42
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    @SteveIves They couldn't take the gas tank off the one in the cave because Marty needed to find that DeLorean intact in 1955, in order to go back to 1885 in the first place. If you dismantle that DeLorean, Marty can't get to 1885.
    – vapcguy
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:40

2 Answers 2


Yes, for as long as Marty is in 1885, there are two versions of the DeLorean there as well. However, that doesn't simplify things for them like you might think.

First, the gas. Couldn't they just get the gas from Doc's DeLorean and put it in Marty's? No, because when Doc hid the DeLorean in the cave, he expected the car to sit for the next 70 years. Because of that, he drained all the gas from the car (and probably all the other fluids as well).

But what about the other parts. Could they replace any broken parts from Marty's DeLorean with a part from Doc's? Again, no.

You have to keep in mind that, in reality, there is still only one DeLorean. Let's say they borrowed a headlight from Doc's DeLorean and put it on Marty's. Well, that means when Marty removed the car from the cave in 1955, it would be missing a headlight because it had been removed in 1885.

Headlights are a trivial example, but it shows that they couldn't touch Doc's DeLorean at all because if they started cannibalizing Doc's DeLorean in 1885, Marty wouldn't have had a working time machine to use in 1955 to travel back.

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    Plus gasoline & diesel won't last 70 years,,,so there's that.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 16:26
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    So what stops Doc and Marty from taking the blown intake manifold from the one in the cave and leaving instructions in the car for 1955 Doc and Marty that they need to put a working intake manifold into the car before using it to time travel? It's a gnarly looking loop, but it should get them out of that pickle. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 18:56
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    Yes, they could do that...and the result would be a really boring movie. :)
    – Alarion
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:02
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    @JesseC.Slicer Yes, they could've taken the fuel injection manifold from the cave DeLorean, but it wouldn't do much good. They already know that the whiskey they were trying to use as fuel wouldn't work - it would just blow the manifold again, and they'd be back where they started. Yes, given some time they probably could have come up with an apparatus to refine crude oil into petrol, and made use of the other manifold - but the whole point was that they didn't have time.
    – Werrf
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:33
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    "Marty wouldn't have had a working time machine to use in 1955 to travel back" It depends on whether the parts they removed could be replaced in 1955.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 22:00

It is the same DeLorean.

  • Doc jumps to 1885, taking the DeLorean with him.
  • In 1885, Doc writes the letter and hides the DeLorean.
  • In 1955, Marty receives the 70 year old letter, and find the Delorean that has been hidden for 70 years.
  • In 1885, Marty arrives in the Delorean. This DeLorean is the 70 year older version of Doc's DeLorean.

So yes, there were two Deloreans physically present in 1885. However, they represent the same DeLorean.

Remember how Biff went back in the past to his younger self, and talked to him? In that scene there are two Biffs, an old man and a teenager. They represent the same man in different stages of his life.

The same is true of the DeLorean, but the car doesn't show its age as well as Biff does, so it's harder for us to realize one is considerably older than the other.

  • 1
    This accepts an unclear, non-physical definition of identity. The older version is different in details than the new. it has more wear on the engine. Some of its material has been affected by things such as cosmic rays and other forms of radiation. The rubber in the hoses and tires will have oxidized, the paint will have faded, the upholstery will have stiffened, etc. The two DeLoreans, if placed sided-by-side, would be distinguishable on close inspection, so they are not "the same" Deloreans. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:57
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    @Wildcard - There is a decent chance I read it before you were born. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 1:04
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    @WhatRoughBeast, well neener neener for you. But you weren't the same person then as you are now (unless you use unclear non-physical definitions of identity), so you should obviously read it again. :P
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 1:06
  • 3
    @WhatRoughBeast: This is a semantics discussion. I call Doc's DL and Marty's DL the same, because they are the same car (the only DL that Doc ever converted), barring a difference in age. For the same reason, I consider young and old Biff the same man, even though they are vastly different from each other if you look at their physical properties and not their identity. Also, from my answer: "but the car doesn't show its age as well as Biff does" I acknowledge that the car is different, but most of the differences are not visible to a viewer. I was only justifying OP's confusion about the cars.
    – Flater
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:38
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    @WhatRoughBeast: Extending your suggestion, you're also not the same person you were when you wrote the first comment. If you consider the two DLs as not the same; do you still consider yourself the same person as you were yesterday? How about five minutes ago? There's only two options here: Either you consider nothing the same, even if only 5 minutes (or microseconds) apart. Or, you consider two items the same if they are the same entity with a different age (i.e. the older one used to be the younger one). Where would you otherwise draw the line of what is the same and what is not?
    – Flater
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 7:42

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