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Geoff Ombao

The DeLorean Candidate


There’s not much on Geoff Ombao’s resume to hint that he would become a car designer. His curriculum vitae is stocked with creative director positions and projects with the Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, Pioneer Electronics and DirecTV. With a master’s of fine arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York, he’s been an instructor of computer graphics classes for Apple Computer’s New York marketing center and has earned awards for his graphic design work.

Yet Ombao always had a singular passion for his 1982 DeLorean DMC-12, the sports car Doc Brown rigged into Marty McFly’s time machine in the 1985 movie Back to the Future. John Z. DeLorean would only build his futuristic, gull-winged car, with its raw brushed stainless steel exterior and ultralow profile, from 1981 to 1983. But the car captured Ombao’s imagination, inspiring him in 2016 to enroll in the Art Center College of Design’s undergraduate Transportation Design program in Pasadena, Calif. Ombao expects to earn an undergraduate degree this year.

“I considered going to college to learn how to design cars, but it didn’t happen,” he recalls. “I took another route. To a certain degree, I hoped that buying a classic car would satiate this need, and it didn’t. If anything, it kind of pushed me further into this addiction. I’d hit my mid-40s and thought, If I don’t try to become a car designer now, I never will.

Ombao decided that if he got into Art Center College of Design, he would quit his job, leave corporate America and “become a college kid again.” Following through on that vow to himself was “one of the most challenging things I’ve ever been through—and I mean that in a good way.”

Ombao still drives the 1982 DeLorean. The license plate? BKN TYME, a nod to Back to the Future. He says that when he sees the car in his garage, he thinks, Maybe you can be one of the people who creates these beautiful things.

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