"You built a Transformer... Out of a DeLorean? - Marty McFly

Well, no Marty, it's not quite like that. Let's start from the beginning...

What is PROJECT: STEELSKIN?

Project Steelskin is my quest to build a to-scale G1-Style Transforming DeLorean as well as if Takara/Hasbro had made one back in 1984. This includes the figure, packaging, tech specs, and instruction booklet.

Why did you do this?

This project is a synthesis of my love for Transformers and my obsession with DeLoreans. I was 6 in 1984 when I got my first Transformers for my Birthday, and in 1985 Back to the Future came out and I was forever taken with the DeLorean sports car. I've collected everything there was to find about DeLoreans in the past 16 years, and I am lucky enough to have Grandparents that live very close to an original DeLorean dealership that still had their sign posted up even more than 8 years after the company went defunct.

The first pic is me at age 11 by the sign, the second is of me at age 16 by the same sign. They have since taken down the sign. It's been a lifetime obsession for me.

What is a DeLorean?

The DeLorean is a stainless steel bodied rear engine two seater sports car made between 1981 and 1983. The most prominent features are its gullwing doors. It is the star of the Back to the Future Trilogy (along with some great actors). The company was founded by John DeLorean in 1975 and they made just over 8500 cars in the 3 years of production. The company went out of business in October, 1982 but cars were made from leftover parts well into early 1983. Learn more about them HERE.

What's the story?

I had sort of forgotten about my Transformers for several years and my sophomore year of college I discovered eBay. I started selling off all sorts of toys and such, and I brought my entire TF collection to college to get rid of. I discovered how cool they were again and I began to collect them. It was through eBay that I met my good friend Tommy who is also a big Transformers fan. He told me at some point that there was a Toyfare (action figure magazine) contest for building your own Transformer. I dismissed the idea at first but it began to grow on me. I decided if I was ever to make my own Transformer it would have to be a DeLorean. I drew my first tiny sketch of Steelskin (to be so named more than 2 years after that) in the margin of one of my notebooks. A year later I sketched a slightly larger version in a notepad, following some of Sideswipe's transformation sequences.

In December 1999 I was buying/trading some Transformers from one of my old friends and I came upon this:
While I was thrilled to no end that they had actually made DeLorean Transformer, it was a Micromaster - These are just barely Transformers if you ask me. Plus they named him Swindler, which is a slam against John DeLorean and his beautiful marque. I liked the way the legs transformed, but I wanted to make the door seams as close to the actual fender seams on the real car as possible.

I had pretty much decided that I was going to build Steelskin out of an existing framework of an old Transformer, and I liked how Sideswipe's arms came out of the sides and how his hood folded down completely. I had originally considered the Omnibot named Overdrive (and I had even purchased a second one to disassemble) but I decided that wasn't going to be good enough since they are smaller than G1 cars, and his hood didn't fold down in front. I sold off the second Overdrive and made $6 in profit. Gotta love eBay! In mid-November 1999 I purchased a thrashed Sideswipe figure for a mere $10. It was missing the doors, stickers, and a lot of paint. It did have what I needed: 4 wheels and good joints.

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