Great story, great pictures, you may have a future in writing.
Location: Birmingham al
Great story, great pictures, you may have a future in writing.
It's been well over 4 years since that day. 5609 is still in my care and it is no doubt in the nicest condition it has ever been in. During my ownership period I have nit picked and labored away on 5609 to make it into the absolute best DeLorean I could. Some repairs/improvements took days or even weeks. Some took a few minutes, but no matter how small, they were all important.
You may be wondering what could anyone do to a remanufactured car? Isn't this supposed to be perfect? The answer is yes...to most people. Not to someone who regularly waxes his frame, or polishes the water pump shaft, or uses a small wire brush to keep all the bolts nice and shiny. There was just something "off" about this car. I couldn't put my finger on it, but now in hindsight, I think it was not just one thing but a bunch of very small things that never really registered until I started getting anal. It's like someone who is not into cars can look at two identical cars, one nice, and one professionally detailed and they can tell a difference, even if they don't know what that is. The truly detailed car doesn't have dressing caked all over the interior and rubber bits. It has been pampered to make every part look new, and new does not always mean shiny.
First, let me make one thing clear...this car is not something I idolize. It's a car, a bunch of parts built by other men, nothing more. It doesn't have a "soul" and I have no emotional attachment to it. If someone offered me 50k to sell it to them for their museum, and his friend offered me 51k to part it out....it's parts brother, (well maybe not, but you get my point).
I don't think it's healthy to idolize any material thing, so I try not to make it "important" or put it in front of something that is important. Spending time on it polishing things unseen may sound like an obsession, but it's actually a release. Whenever I am restless, bored, or have cabin fever in the winter months, I can always go out to the garage and find something to do on her. It's relaxing, and rewarding. In short, it's not work, it's therapy. It's not my only release, I build scale models, I create artwork, both 2D and 3D, even illuminated artwork. To summarize, I try to keep this owning this car in perspective.
So what on earth did I find wrong with the DMCH reman car? First things first. I wasn't their buyer, so the previous owner may have done a few things that I could blame on DMCH, but hesitate to do so. For instance the graining was all screwed up, especially around the A and C pillars, but more on this later on. Upon my very close home inspection, I wasn't crazy about the liberal use of black silicone in the underbody door cavities. Everywhere there was a rivet, a glob of black silicone was on top. If this was there for water reasons, I didn't need it as this car would only see a gentle spray of water when she got washed. I cleaned out all the old silicone from around the door recesses and now it's spotless. I will not bore you with all the "fixes" but you get the idea. It's just that the entire car felt "rushed" for lack of a better word. Like it was being built on a reality TV show and had to be done by Tuesday for the reveal. Just little things like labels not straight, caulk around intake vents applied haphazardly in the back, more silicone on the door sill plates, small things that for 50k, should have been done to a higher level. Then again, I get the feeling it was indeed being rushed after hearing how the buyer was. Once when doing a detailing I was up in the left fender and saw this written on the inside. Is this the very first documented DMCH cave painting? It's still up for interpretation as to what this says "F%^K this ONE or this DMC, but I get the idea the original buyer who commissioned this car was not easy to please.
Another quality issue I had was the taillight boards were flaky, sometimes they worked, sometimes one didn't work, other times I had no brake lights at all. This car was not even 3 years old and the boards were crapping out? I get it, they are 30 year old NOS, but still, it's 50k and brake lights are something you really really need. PJ Grady to the rescue with their custom made boards. This is one of those investments that needs to be on every DeLorean out there. ..including the rebuilt ones. They are that good.
The P.O., not to be outdone had his share too. Such as ratcheting up the torsion bar tension to fix a weak strut(which gives support to my theory that he didn't know what he was doing...that and Germans love David Hasselhoff) The car had very slight eyebrows which meant it probably sat outside some, but this got corrected by me as well. I also removed a trickle charger from UNDER the car. He had bolted it to the BOTTOM of the underbody and ran the leads to the battery, and left a short cord dangling under the car. Definitely starting to smell like a older gentleman had this car....I'm just glad I got to it before he put the mandatory "calculator in the steering wheel mod" most older people seem to love.
Apparently, the original owner thought he knew how to blend. He did have a knack for following the body lines to a tee, no matter what direction the grain was going. He really messed up the A and C pillars because he followed the lines of the car and not the grain. I taught myself how to grain and it's not hard. I think anyone could grain a DeLorean with just a bit of direction and practice. It's been 4 years, and every time I wash my car, I still make it a point to find some flaw somewhere in the grain and fix it. It is my never ending quest for a perfectly grained DeLorean.
Now I spent time on those little things that nobody notices, but I also spent time on custom mods. When I hear the word "custom" applied to a car for sale, my mind starts conjuring images of neon green double wiper blades, anodized cup holders with cig. lighter plug in lights, and spinner hubcaps. That's why every single one of my mods is 100% reversible, and reversible quickly. Remember, this car is far from stock, so I'm not going to sweat having a "non-concours" mod or two when there is already Alpine head unit and an 8" sub in full view.
My interior mods started out with the LED light kit for the door markers, console panel and interior lights. I added the shifter emblem, the stainless door sill letters, and the hood badge on the passenger knee board. Nothing over the top here, just done to taste. Earlier this year my window switches became more and more dirty. I could clean them, but the emblems were wearing off too so I opted for the illuminated switches. Like I mentioned earlier, there is no sense going crazy to keep it stock, the Alpine/JL sub/Genesis amp pretty much soiled that look, so no harm in taking some liberties with the interior.
The engine bay went through a metamorphosis. First it was a stock configuration stage II, nothing special. I detailed it of course, but after a year or two, I decided to spice it up a bit with the stainless air cleaner that I bought cheap in rough form and re grained myself. I cut finishing plates for the intake, and did a few other custom bits to arrive at this:
In another 2 years I decided to punch it up a bit for the night life cruise in's of Fall, so I arrived at this...bear in mind it's totally reversible in about 10 minutes back to the stock look. No extra holes drilled, etc.
The exterior however, I didn't touch. The only thing I did was replace the missing "DeLorean" hood emblem. I really liked the look the badges gave the later build cars....like it just belongs there.
Before I even had 5609 in my possession, I had placed an order for a LED light package, the DeLorean hood emblem, and a 30k parts pack. I wanted it to be there and ready to go when I got back. It's first day home, I affixed the hood badge in it's proper location. It was like a little crown on her head that had long since been missing.
Although I like what some have done with body kits and color coding the black spoiler to the fascia color, aftermarket wheels, lamp covers and such, I decided to keep it in stock form for one reason. A DeLorean doesn't need any help to look awesome. To do so seems like it pulls it out of it's comfort zone into some mirror universe. If this were 1987, a DeLorean would look very nice with fog lights, aftermarket wheels and a body kit, but not it's no longer the hip young kid. Today a DeLorean is mature, suave, and completely comfortable with the body Giugiaro gave it. A DeLorean is like the Dos Equis guy. Now imagine the Dos Equis guy trying to pull off a backwards ball cap, tank top, shades and sandals. He doesn't need to "fit in" with the youngsters because he is just so much above that. Save the t-shirts and flip flops for the drunk Spring breakers, and the body kits for riced out Civics. After saying that, I did dabble in making a set of headlight covers for my car, the catch is that headlight covers are 80's, so no harm, no foul. I ran them for one year and took them back off for reasons mentioned above...Awesome needs no help.
More fascinating edge of your seat stories about steering rack replacements, strut bars, and stainless label kits to come!
Last edited by Michael; 08-26-2013 at 12:13 AM.
Over the years of owning my car it has went from what I would consider a very nice DeLorean to an exceptional DeLorean. So what does "Exceptional" mean? As far as I'm concerned, it's not original, and certainly not Concours. I have said it time and time again, I wouldn't trust even a concours original car to the quicky mart and back. A original DeLorean was plagued with quirks and problems that would easily leave you by the side of the road...and that was when they were BRAND NEW! I think "Exceptional" probably relates to the owner's intended purpose. If he wants a museum piece to never drive, then maybe 100% original is the way to go, but for me, it's different.
People derive pleasure from these cars in different ways. Some drive, some like to put them on a pedestal and rub on them, some modify, some just drive on rare occasions....as long as they are enjoying the ownership experience, who are we to say what's the right way or the wrong way. The point is to enjoy it and as long as that criteria is being met, then the car is doing its job, no matter how much or little its getting driven. I have driven my car almost 20k miles in the past 4.5 years, so that's around 4,500 miles a year on average. I would say I drive mine more than most...and as much(if not more than) some people who claim to use theirs as a daily driver. I never get it out on anything other than a sunny day, why? because I spend a lot of time and energy keeping the chassis clean, so it would not bring me much joy to drive it in the rain. In fact, no matter what car I happen to be in, it's just not fun to go for a Sunday drive in a downpour and try to enjoy the scenery.
So with that said, in my world exceptional is defined as a immaculately clean car where originality takes a back seat to reliability and cannon steps aside for personal preference. I have turned my car into me...a little outside the box, but one foot still in.
I think my first repair was installing an alternator, pretty easy. I have also over the years replaced my steering rack, fuel pump, one ball joint, replaced rear shocks, ad a few other odds and ends. Probably more than I would have done if I bought a brand new car, but certainly not out of the question for a Delorean....even remanufactured cars need a little love over the years. I did notice the weep hole on the waterpump staying moist last Fall, so I had it replaced early this year...no sense in putting off a waterpump until it starts leaking, they never get better. Other than "nipping the water pump in the bud" the car has been problem free for the last year or two.
Most of my time spent on my car is either cleaning and detailing or doing small cosmetic mods. One thing about doing these things to your car...You do sooner or later get finished. Some people know when that time comes, some don't. They enjoy it so much they keep doing little things to their car until it's just over the top.
Of all the small fixes and improvements I have done to my car, one that I have noticed gets overlooked a lot is the AC panel illumination bleed. At night, the light leaks out from the sides of the AC panel and it just looks cheap, like it hasn't been put back together correctly. One day I removed my Panel and carefully masked the front and back so I could paint the sides black. After, I cut some strips of black self adhesive felt which really tidies that area up, and keeps the light where it's supposed to be....this is one of those "little" things that I think the DMCH remanufacturing process should have addressed. I also replaced all my instrument bulbs in there with LED's. The heat that the AC panel is subjected to from the factory bulbs is why so many panels have cracked and worn decals. I decided to spice mine up a bit by using red and blue along with the factory white bulbs...it breaks up the panel a bit.
I think the most rewarding modification is without a doubt the door launchers. I bought the kit months before but was so intimidated by it, I put it off. One day we got a forecast for 6 solid days of rain so I decided to tackle this project. Installation though involved, was straightforward. One or two hiccups but for the most part easy. It took me about 7 hours from start to finish....ask me to do it again and it will take me 3 hours. The stainless label kit is quite unique. I saw this on Tamir's site and passed it up, it's 200 bucks and after all, they are labels. Something kept them in the back of my mind however, I wanted them. They were expensive, but they were unique, and 5609 deserved it. They give it such a distinctive look, and they do cover everything. Even the labels on the bottom of the fan shroud are included.
The bonnet lid is one of those things that really bugged me....it never lined up with the fender. It looked like it was unlatched at certain angles. I realized that it was the factory trunk seal that was causing the problem. Not only was it too thick, it was a straight run of wide weather seal. It was not molded in the shape with the curves needed. It was just cut in the sides to make it bend around the corners ad haphazardly glued into place with even more of my old friend, black silicone. I used a very nice flexible weather strip with 3m adhesive on the back. This worked like a charm. The bonnet now aligns perfectly with the fenders. It's watertight and it looks so much better and cleaner than the factory seal.
Sometime ago when on Talk, a member posted that he had one left and it was for sale...I was immediately intrigued. It was a strut tower reinforcement bar. DMCMW sold these for awhile and I think they still do. Anyway, he was offering it at a discount and I thought why not? I didn't know what to expect if anything but let me tell you, this thing made a huge difference in the way this car took the curves. It was a dramatic difference that really made me think this was money well spent. The roads around here are very curvy and tight in places so I appreciate this strut bar every time I take 5609 out for some spirited driving. The downside is that you do indeed have to remove the bar if you ever do need access to the spare, that and you must cut holes in the factory trunk carpet and backer board to mount it. The bolts that hold the bar in place are the same size as the lugs, so no extra wrenches needed to get to the spare tire.
I'm sure there are a few things I forgot about doing over the years, but 5609 is now exactly the way I want it. It needs nothing, cosmetically or mechanically. All I do now is continue to enjoy polishing, driving, and showing it. I know it's just a car, but it's special to me. Matt Farah said it bestI myself first saw one while sneaking a look into my dad's Playboy mags. I saw the Craig stereo ad and was just mesmerized. This was how a car was supposed to look! Someone somewhere had figured it out and had designed this beautiful shape just for me. Of all the pages in a Playboy, this was the page I carefully ripped out of the magazine and kept.The moment I first saw one was the second I learned a car can be more than just a mode of transportation.
I would have never thought that some 30 years later there would be one of these cars parked in my garage....I would have never thought that I would have a garage to park anything in. As I touched on before, I lived and grew up in a very small and dirty/filthy/disgusting trailer. I'm not about to try and make myself out to be poor, we did have a place to sleep, food every night, air con and heat...you would be surprised how many people in the world still live on dirt floors. What I didn't have much of was hope. I felt I was destined to never really have the "American Dream". I can remember just 15 years or so ago I would drive by small modest houses thinking how nice it would be to live here or there. When I finally bought my home it was definitely a dream come true. A home is more than just a material possession, it's a place to build and live your life and I feel so fortunate and blessed to be here. A DeLorean however, for lack of a better word is a little more selfish. It is a material thing but there is something about this car that transcends the material world. It represents so much. Not only does it represent the risk, passion, and the drive brought forth to create this beautiful piece of history, but it embodies my own dream, that one thing that I always wanted just for me but deep down knowing I would never get. Not very many people get their dream car, there is always something more important,...Wife needs a new car, kids college fund, home repairs, medical costs, etc. The "dream" always gets moved back and for many, will always be a dream. I am humbled to own one of these machines, sure it's not a $250,000 Ferrari, but cost doesn't matter, it's my dream, and it's realized.
The DeLorean is not a car for everyone. Most car enthusiasts look at raw performance data, they look at ľ mile times and horsepower numbers. Delorean enthusiasts go a bit deeper. It’s not just about performance. It's not just about looks or history, or even passion. For me, this car is so much more. It has made me more outgoing and sociable with strangers. It's the first car that has given me a sense of accomplishment, and it touches me on a deeper level than any other car has or probably ever will. Just like baby boomers are drawn muscle cars because they grew up with them, I grew up with cars of the 80's, and the car that embodies 80's like no other was the Delorean. I said just a few days ago on this very blog that a Delorean was "a bunch of parts built by other men, nothing more. It doesn't have a "soul" and I have no emotional attachment to it"
...... I was wrong
Last edited by Michael; 08-31-2013 at 08:01 PM.
Location: Atlanta OTP GA
My VIN: 2743
Club(s): (SEDOC) (DCH) (DCUK) (DOC-UK)
Michael, I well recall your excitement in the thread on .com on that trip down to Florida to inspect and drive back the car. The hour by hour updates. The 4am postings when you couldn't sleep because of excitement. The gas station stops on the way back
At the time I wondered if this Talonlover guy was just a young drift car fan and would soon get bored with a D but you have kept with it and you are the only person I "know" who waxes their frame for entertainment . Or waxes their frame, full stop.
VIN 2743, B/A, Frame 2227, engine 2320
I don't always drive cars, but when I do, I prefer DeLoreans
No-one is to stone anyone, even, and I want to make this absolutely clear, even if they do say "carburetor"
That's definitely moving, Michael!
LOL, I was never a drift guy or a "Ricer" My rice would regularly lay waste to most domestic V-8's(even an occasional C-5) It took me almost 2 years to build it but it walked the walk and talked the talk...Nearly 300HP and 300Lbs Tq. in a little Talon TSI 2WD.
Location: North GA
My VIN: 1669 (Sold) Looking for 5 spd...
Club(s): (SEDOC) (DCUK)
Beautiful work -- Great story, Michael!
hi, I couldn't read all of this in the time that I have right now but I enjoyed reading what I could. I wish I could see the pictures, I don't think they're available anymore. Props for a nice writeup!
Last edited by Michael; 12-16-2014 at 12:42 AM.
Location: Macomb MI #DOCBRWN
My VIN: 5778
Club(s): (DCO) (DCUK)