Scott Mulhollen's wheels stop people in their tracks.

At a recent fundraiser, passers-by couldn't help commenting and asking questions about the vehicle, or posing for photographs next to it.

It's so cool. Man, they did a good job on this.

I saw the trash compactor when I pulled up -- it's the real deal.

Can you drive it on the highway?

Yes, the 1981 DeLorean -- outfitted like the famed time machine from the "Back to the Future" film trilogy -- can be driven on the highway.

"That's a real Ohio license plate," said Mulhollen, though he lamented the fact that the vanity plate, unlike most other details on the car, doesn't exactly mirror that of its Hollywood inspiration. His reads OTATME; the California plate from "Back to the Future" reads OUTATIME, which already was taken by another Ohio driver.

The visceral reactions that many people have to his car reinforce why Mulhollen decided to track down a DeLorean (made only in 1981 and '82); have it remodeled in the likeness of the time machine (flux capacitor and all); and launch a business, Ohio Time Machine Rental, to share it with others.

"People my age -- men -- have sat in this car and cried," said Mulhollen, 42, a New Albany resident who also owns a self-defense studio. "I did. It's this fantasy world. We remember pretending to drive this car (as kids) with a pillow and stuffed animals."

Since May, when he received the car back from his "Back to the Future" expert (the props specialist has built more than two dozen replica time machines), Mulhollen has taken the vehicle to 10 events, from fundraisers and festivals to comic-con events and corporate parties.

He even was hired by a woman to drive her husband around as a birthday present.

"I'm a firm believer there are more 'nerds' out there than regular people," Mulhollen said.

Jon Glass had a fan-boy moment recently when the time machine pulled up to an event for which he was hired as a DJ -- a fundraiser for the Mother Ship, an organization that supports parents of children with special needs.

The "adult prom" at Worthington Hills Country Club was themed "Enchantment Under the Sea," as was the dance in the first "Back to the Future," starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.

"My wife is going to be so jealous I got to see the DeLorean," said Glass, 37, of Galloway.

The couple rented the second film to watch during one of their first dates and threw a party on Oct. 21, 2015 -- the future date to which the main characters travel in that movie.

As he looked over the car, Glass reveled in the details: the placement of circuits, the dashboard, the fog funneling from the back end. He also loved the props that Mulhollen brought: Nike self-lacing shoes, a hoverboard and more.

"This has to be a labor of love," Glass said. "It's not, 'Oh, let's make some extra cash.' You do it because you love the movie."

Mulhollen acknowledged that the movies -- released in 1985, '89 and '90 -- have greatly influenced him.

As a kid, he said, he was bullied and beaten up, leaving him to feel left out, much like Marty McFly (Fox's character) in "Back to the Future."

"I had low self-esteem, and I had to immerse myself in my imagination," said Mulhollen, who grew up in New York and Georgia with divorced parents. "When I saw this movie, I saw that boy -- who was a bit of a troublemaker but didn't have a lot of friends."

That, together with the film's fashions and music, hooked Mulhollen on it.

A decade ago, he had begun collecting pop-culture items that reminded him of his childhood ("Ghostbusters" toys, Lego bricks), he said, but he wanted something more memorable.

For about a year, he said, he researched both the car and the potential market for a rental business in Columbus. An estimated 50 replica time machines can be found throughout the country, Mulhollen said.

For guidance, he tapped DeLorean time-machine owner Adam Kontras, a central Ohio native living in California. To help him secure a DeLorean and have it authentically remodeled, he reached out to props specialist Bruce Coulombe in Oviedo, Florida, near Orlando.

Mulhollen took a call last October from an employee of Coulombe's saying that he had found a DeLorean on eBay in near-mint condition. With 40 seconds left in the online auction, Mulhollen placed a winning bid. (He wouldn't divulge the price but said he got a "great deal.")

Transforming the vehicle into a time machine took about six months.

Since the spring, the car has traveled to Chicago, Michigan and all over Ohio.

Packages start at $250 an hour at ohiotimemachine-rental.com. Customers cannot drive the car, according to the website: "Due to insurance liabilities we unfortunately cannot have a client drive the car. However, there are special circumstances where a person can drive it a few feet on a private, closed area. This arrangement will need to be discussed during booking."

Scott Gales hired Mulhollen in May for a semiannual sales meeting for Rocky Brands, a Nelsonville shoe-manufacturing company. Gales and his co-workers performed a skit that centered on the past and future of the company, making the DeLorean an ideal prop.

"It's a piece of Americana," said Gales, a vice president and general manager. "It's a family movie -- and a lot at our convention probably saw it as kids."

Plus, he said, the movie's theme still resonates because everyone has moments they wish they could undo.

Mulhollen's passion for the car and the film, Gales said, was evident.

"He knew every word and knew what buttons to push when we told him what we were doing."

Mulhollen often arrives to events dressed in a puffy vest and jeans -- a la Marty McFly. He maneuvers revelers into " '80s poses" for pictures.

"It's a wonderful Christmas card photo op," said Emy Trende, founder of Mother Ship and organizer of the recent "adult prom."

Most important, Mulhollen wants the experience for those visiting with the time machine to be authentic.

"Physically, the car may not take you back in time," Mulhollen said, "but, emotionally, it definitely does.

"Nostalgia is strong."

award@dispatch.com

@AllisonAWard