Pastor's Transport Choice Takes Him Back to the Future

 08/17/2017 - 07:09
Chris Jarrett, pastor of group life and connections at Keystone Church, and Saline area resident, stands aside his 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 at the old train depot in Saline on Monday. Jarrett said half the fun of owning an original copy of the famous car comes from seeing the smiles it puts on people's faces.

You might have to do a double take one day soon if you happen to see a shiny DeLorean rolling around the streets of Saline.

Its occupant won't be a forlorn, lost teenager from 1985, but instead a local church pastor who purchased the car less than a year ago after a lifetime of admiring the time machine made famous by the Back to the Future franchise.

Chris Jarrett is the pastor of group life and connections at Keystone Church, a position he's held for nearly two years after spending seven years at a church in Ludington.

He and his family now live in the Saline area just north of the city.

To anyone who sees them, Jarrett and his DeLorean make quite a pair. The car's retro cool factor draws people in the instant they see it, and Jarrett's quick smile and friendly manor invites the usual flurry of questions about all things DeLorean.

Jarret said his own interest in DeLoreans is solidly rooted in the film series, too.

"I guess, like a lot of people, it was from seeing Back to the Future. I was a teenager back in the '80s and once you see the car in the movies, that's what kind of kicks it off," he said. "I just have always loved them since then. As a kid I didn't keep up with what was happening with the company, I just knew there were these cool cars out there."

While on vacation a few years later, Jarrett saw the famous car in person.

"My parents lived down in Florida before they passed and I remember being down there as an adult," he said. "My brother and I were driving around some place and a DeLorean pulled up next to us and I just about flipped out. You hardly ever see them. They're just such an interesting shape and design and with the stainless steel and all of it, it just really stands out."

Jarrett said all of the factors finally fell into place a year or two ago for him to start seriously considering purchasing a DeLorean of his own.

As a longtime, avid motorcyclist, Jarrett said one of the downsides of moving to a more populated area was that he no longer felt safe on his motorcycle.

"We moved here a couple of years ago and it just felt a little more dangerous riding a bike,'" he said, citing a fatal accident very close to his house as the final straw. "I said, 'You know what, it's time to sell the bike.'"

Jarrett said he consulted with his wife about potentially buying a DeLorean to replace his bike as his leisure vehicle of choice, and was surprised to find she was actually on board with the idea.

"She was like, 'Well, I can see doing that.'"

From there, it was just a matter of searching for just the right DeLorean online. Only about 9,000 were made between 1981 and 1983, and numbers vary as to how many still exist nearly 35 years later.

"I found it listed either on eBay or Autotrader, I really can't remember now," Jarrett said. "But I'd been looking and there's always cars out there, DeLoreans out there for sale, in various states of repair. You can get pristine, ready-to-go cars or ones that would take years to restore."

Jarrett said he was after the former.

"I wanted to drive and enjoy one that didn't need a whole lot of work. This one was out in Colorado," he said. "The previous owner had had it for eight or ten years and enjoyed it. He was an older guy and wasn't driving it as much, so he just felt like it was time for someone who would enjoy it and use it to have it."

The deal was largely shaped over the phone and with the help of a family member.

"We talked several times on the phone, and I have a brother-in-law who lives out in the Denver area who's a total car guy and I called him up and said, 'Hey, would you be willing to go look at the car?' He didn't know anything about DeLoreans, but he took a look and said he loved it and that it's in great shape," Jarrett said. "I flew out to see it myself and bought it and had it shipped back and that was just last October."

The car has slightly more than 48,000 miles and is a 1981 model.

"For the most part it's stock," Jarrett said. "Some of the lights have been upgraded to LED on the inside and things like that. I upgraded the sound system to something more modern, but otherwise it's pretty well stock."

The originality extends to the factory mechanics, he said.

"It's got the original stock V6, which is called a PRV," he said, referring to the engine's mutual development between Peugeot, Renault and Volvo. "

With horsepower figures around 130, Jarrett said the DeLorean was never known for its acceleration and speed.

"It's one of the original drawbacks and criticisms of the car that it's just really underpowered for a sports car," he said.

Also, the sight lines can be cumbersome, according to Jarrett.

"The visibility is not great because it's low to the ground and the angle of the seat and the hood," he said. "That takes some getting used to, and you just have to be really aware of what's around you all the time because it's sometimes hard to see, especially for maneuvering and parking."

Otherwise, Jarrett said his DeLorean rides and handles very smoothly for a car of its age.

That said, Jarrett only tends to take it out when the weather is on his side.

"In some ways the DeLorean just replaces the motorcycle," he said. "It's a two-seater, summers only, good weather-kind of riding, so it's obviously not a family car."

While Jarrett said his wife was pretty quick to come around to the idea of owning a DeLorean, his children reacted a little differently.

Jarrett paraphrased their thoughts as, "It's kind of cool, but we're kind of embarrassed at the same time."

He said his son actually loves cruising Downtown Ann Arbor with him, and that his daughter recently scored some credibility points with fellow Saline High School friends when she told them her dad owns a DeLorean, much to their excitement and awe.

As for himself, Jarrett said he's really happy riding around the greater Saline area in his DeLorean, and simply living here as well.

"We love it," he said. "Ludington is a wonderful little town, especially in the summer time, but being here there's just a lot more to do and a lot more activity all year round."

Jarrett said the proximity to a big college town is a real plus.

"Being outside Ann Arbor with the university there's just a lot more things to do, especially for our daughter in high school," he said. "There's just a lot more for her."

Jarrett said his parishioners get a big kick out of his DeLorean as well, after all only a handful of people can claim to have a pastor who owns a time machine.

"They think it's a hoot. 'My pastor drives a DeLorean,'" he said with a big laugh.

In general, Jarrett said he's thrilled to witness the excitement his DeLorean generates amongst the entire community. He said seeing people enjoy it is one of the best parts of having it.

"We were going to a graduation party in May and my wife and I took the DeLorean," he said. "This lady came running down the street chasing me and it turned out we were going to the same party so we talked. Turns out she's with the Foundation for Saline Area Schools.

Jarrett said she told them that the primary fundraiser this February for the FSAS is a 1980s theme, and asked if he'd bring the car.

He told her, weather permitting, it would be his pleasure.

"It's just fun," Jarrett said. "The car just makes people smile."

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Steven Howard
Steven Howard is a veteran community journalist who lives in Saline. He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Reach him at 734-635-7979 or

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