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In the first movie, they had the Delorean rev up with the emergency brake turned on and the speedometer revved up close to the magical 88mph. What I'm wondering is why they didn't just have the car do a brakestand to 88mph instead of trying to drive the Delorean to the same speed?

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My guess is that it's related to the velocity of the car, rather than the speed. I always thought that the speed of 88mph had to be accompanied by a direction (Velocity is a Speed and a Direction), that's why Marty always had to drive the Delorean in a straight line. – Jamie Taylor Jul 23 '12 at 8:06
Yes it was not just an odometer reading they wanted, the actual object of the car had to be moving at 88mph. – sanpaco Jul 21 '15 at 17:03
@sanpaco Relative to what? ^_^ – eirikdaude Jun 14 at 9:18
up vote 23 down vote accepted

The car had to reach a velocity of 88 miles per hour. It had nothing to do with the speedometer hitting 88 miles per hour.

In the animated series episode Gone Fishin` Jules Brown (one of Doc Brown's sons) places a spare flux capacitor in a barrel. When the barrel falls over the waterfall and reaches 88 mph, the flux capacitor activites and moves Jules Brown through time (and space) before crashing at the bottom.

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+1, when they push the car with a steam engine in the third movie they don't care of the speedometer at all. – sharptooth Jan 23 '13 at 14:37
@sharptooth the speedometer would work even if the car was being pushed – JoelFan Aug 26 '13 at 21:27
@sharptooth They did in fact care about the speed (and thus indirectly) the speedometer in the third movie. When they tried pulling it with horses, Doc had rigged up an external speedometer for them to read while they were driving the horses, and is why he made the explosive logs, to give the steam engine the extra OOMPH! to get it up to the needed 88MPH. – eidylon Feb 28 '14 at 18:27

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