The real-life running costs and admin of the top 10 most iconic on-screen cars

DMC DeLorean with parts added and inspired by the movie trilogy "Back to the future"

It would cost more than £5million and 45 days of road-related admin a year to drive Doc Brown’s iconic DeLorean from Back to the Future, according to experts.

SIXT UK has investigated the real-world costs, admin and paperwork needed to get the top 10 beloved on-screen cars road ready. From the hours spent signing contracts and NDAs, and filling in government paperwork at MI6 to contracting lawyers, the amount of admin is downright painful. For drivers looking for a faff-free and cost-effective solution, a SIXT+ subscription service means a premium car without the tedious admin, with MOT, servicing, insurance, breakdown assistance and road tax all part of one monthly cost.

The international mobility provider conducted research which revealed that 27% of drivers would love to own KITT, the indestructible supercar from the Knight Rider series – despite 60 days a year needed for running, maintaining, and insuring the car, with an annual cost of over £600,000. It comes after research of 2,000 motorists found 30% have pondered the delights of owning one of these fantasy cars.

Many would struggle to deal with the upkeep each of these iconic cars requires, as the average respondent carries out 10 life admin tasks per month, and puts off two a day – like paying bills or filing important documents. Top admin tasks sitting on drivers’ ‘to do’ lists include arranging their car’s MOT or service, renewing its insurance, or arranging a visit to the car workshop.

Reasons for procrastination include finding these chores boring to complete (15%), it’s difficult to find the time (13%) – and they ‘just can’t face’ dealing with them (12%). The research found 32% struggle to keep up with all the life admin they have – and 21% would like to do as little of it in their day-to-day lives as possible.

Stuart Masson, editor of car advice website The Car Expert crunched the numbers and revealed the flying, time-travelling DeLorean would be ‘challenging’ mainly because of the £15,000 pilot’s license. Maintaining its nuclear fission reactor, also known as the Flux Capacitor, would cost more than £100,000 by itself while insurance would amount to £50,000. James Bond’s Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me would come in at £370,000 a year – including recruiting specialist engineers from MI6 to maintain the vehicle – and 30 days of mundane admin to make it operate underwater.

Managing Director of SIXT UK, Andrew Smith commented: “It may be fun to daydream about owning one of these amazing vehicles, but the real-world strain would probably see the novelty wear off quite quickly. In our time-poor world, who has the time to hire nuclear scientists or MI6 mechanics to make sure you don’t blow up? A premium car without faff and hassle is what you’ll get with a SIXT+ subscription.”

Andrew Smith added: “Any car owner knows that there is a certain amount of upkeep, costs and admin that comes along with owning your own ride. But all too often, life admin can get in the way of the things we’d rather be doing. Cutting out the upfront costs and faff, a car subscription with SIXT+ gives you the freedom of a car for however long you need it, without mountains of paperwork.”

A modern alternative to buying or leasing a car, a SIXT+ car subscription offers the latest premium models for a monthly fixed price without a long-term commitment. No financing costs or depreciation to worry about, but rather maintenance, comprehensive cover and roadside assistance is standard as part of a customisable subscription plan. With the option to swap cars up to once a month and cancel at any anytime, subscribe to the real-life car of your dreams and have the freedom and flexibility to always be on the move when needed.

Top 10 movie and TV fantasy cars people would love to own – and the estimated annual running costs and admin time (with commentary from Stuart Masson on behalf of SIXT UK):

1. Knight Rider: KITT (1982 Pontiac Trans-Am)

“Apparently, KITT was quite an efficient machine to run, making the running costs reasonably low. However, insurance is very high and is largely David Hasselhoff’s fault, since he seemed to cause most of the carnage. KITT had a mobile support team in a custom lorry to look after his every need, so maintenance is taken care of. Operating outside the law all the time requires some good lawyers to keep you out of jail.”

Running: Low – £5,000
Insurance: Very high – £100,000
Maintenance: High – £500,000
Admin time: Very high – 60 days/year
Total annual running cost: £605,000

2. Back To The Future: Time Machine (1982 DeLorean)

“Plutonium is hard to come by, pushing up the running costs of the DeLorean, and separate policies for every year you travel to in your flying time machine means high insurance costs. The admin time would be high too because doing all the work yourself takes a lot of time, however, on the plus side, maintenance would be low as Doc Brown seems to handle most of the work himself.”

Running: Enormous – £5,000,000
Insurance: High – £50,000
Maintenance: Low – £5,000
Admin time: High – 45 days/year
Total annual running cost: £5,055,000

3. 007: Submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me (1976 Lotus Esprit)

“Unsurprisingly, rockets and missiles don’t come cheap and given 007’s penchant for causing destruction, insurers will be wary of covering you. The Lotus Esprit wasn’t reliable to begin with, let alone one modified to become a submarine so maintenance would be a headache. Admin would be up there too, there’s presumably a whole division of MI6 assigned to filling in government paperwork.”

Running: High – £20,000
Insurance: Very high – £250,000
Maintenance: Very high – £100,000
Admin time: High – 30 days/year
Total annual running cost: £370,000

4. Batman Begins: Batmobile (Tumbler)

“There is no sugar-coating it, rocket fuel is expensive. And you’d need specialist technicians to maintain the rocket boosters and update the guidance software. When every trip is a destruction-fest, you can expect insurance to be sky-high. You’d need a lot of time for all those painful confidentially contracts and NDAs.”

Running: Very high – £50,000
Insurance: Very high – £100,000
Maintenance: High – £50,000
Admin time: High – 30 days/year
Total annual running cost: £200,000

5. The Dukes of Hazzard: General Lee (1969 Dodge Charger)

“That 6.3-litre V8 engine is thirsty, and it will only run on premium unleaded petrol. More than 300 Chargers were destroyed making the TV series and movie so you know insurance will bump up the cost. It must be a full-time business repairing the General Lee after every adventure, but you can rest assured that you’ll save time because an illegal moonshine operation is unlikely to worry too much about compliance issues.”

Running: High – £10,000
Insurance: Very high – £100,000
Maintenance: High – £50,000
Admin time: Low – 3 days/year
Total annual running cost: £160,000

6. Transformers: Bumblebee (2008 Chevrolet Camaro / Volkswagen Beetle)

“What fuel do these robots even run on – unobtanium? Huge insurance costs are a given because no public landmark is safe when there’s a Transformers battle going on. Specialist technicians and classified military technology in secret labs result in extremely high maintenance. And the admin? Congressional oversight hearings are time-consuming.”

Running: Very high – £100,000
Insurance: Enormous – £1,000,000
Maintenance: Very high – £250,000
Admin time: High – 45 days/year
Total annual running cost: £1,350,000

7. Fast & Furious: Dom’s Charger (1970 Dodge Charger)

“For you and me, running costs would be high, although Dom probably gets a bulk-buy discount on nitrous oxide. Because the car gets written off in almost every movie insurance and maintenance are going to be high. However, admin is almost non-existent as no one watches Fast & Furious movies for the paperwork.”

Running: Very high – £50,000
Insurance: Very high – £150,000
Maintenance: High – £100,000
Admin time: Low – 3 days/year
Total annual running cost: £300,000

8. Thunderbirds: FAB 1 (Rolls-Royce)

“Fuel and ammunition costs, plus a chauffeur, plus the London Congestion Charge and ULEZ charges make running this car a fortune. And a bespoke Rolls-Royce worth millions of pounds is going to be pricey to insure. There’s a good reason most cars don’t have six wheels, as it makes them complex and expensive to maintain. A secret rescue organisation is going to require logistics and NDAs to run its operations and vehicles so there’s no cutting down on admin time.

Running: Very high – £100,000
Insurance: High – £50,000
Maintenance: High – £50,00
Admin time: High – 30 days/year
Total annual running cost: £200,000

9. Ghostbusters: Ecto-1 (1959 Cadillac)

“A V8 ambulance weighed down by all that gear isn’t going to be fuel-efficient. That proton cannon can do a lot of damage so your third-party premium is going to be extreme. Most of the ghostbusting mods are homemade and not well-maintained. Also, the guys aren’t too hot on doing their paperwork, especially when it comes to EPA compliance.”

Running: Medium – £10,000
Insurance: Very high – £100,000
Maintenance: Low – £5,000
Admin time: Low – 3 days/year
Total annual running cost: £115,000

10. Rain Man: 1949 Buick Roadster

“When you have one owner, driven very sensibly most of the time, you have low running costs. And Classic car insurance means this cost is relatively low compared to the rest of the list. A mechanically simple car that’s easy to maintain is another positive. And while Sourcing replacement parts on a 75-year-old car takes a bit of time, you shouldn’t need many hours.”

Running: Very low – £2,000
Insurance: Very low – £1,000
Maintenance: Low – £1,000
Admin time: Low – 5 days/year
Total annual running cost: £4,000

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