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What’s it like to own a DeLorean?

Although my DeLorean isn’t on the road yet, I have done a lot of research, I have friends on-line who own them so I’d like to share some insight of what they are like.

Many years ago, before I got in to 3D modelling, I decided to build a fibreglass model slightly bigger than 1:18 scale. There was a DeLorean at the Monterey Park Motor Museum, so I often went there to take photos and measure parts of the car as best I could to get the best scale. I remember the first time I saw it in real life, I was surprised by how small it was. In photos they look about the size of a standard sedan, but in reality they are not much bigger than a mazda MX-5 or a Toyota MR2.

The owner came along one day while I was taking phtos and asked why I was so fascinated with the car, so we soon got chatting. After a while he asked if I’d like to sit in it, you can imagine I didn’t hesitate, so he lifted the rope and I hopped in. The first thing I noticed is how “tomb” like it is inside. The black leather was cold and absorbed all sound. He shut the door and even though I’m not that tall (around 5’7 5’8ish) my head was touching the headliner. I realised what people meant now when they said it can be very claustrophobic in a DeLorean. My knees were almost touching the steering wheel, my head just about touched the headliner, the door bolster intrudes from the left and the high centre console keeps you centred in your seat. I looked out the back window though the louvers, and wondered how you’d ever reverse out of a car park, as all you could really see was the louvers themselves.

Andrew who is restoring vin 1564 also shares the “cramped” opinion of the interior, saying: “At this time of year it gets so damn hot inside even when I’m am just driving around, it’s like a stainless steel pizza oven! To be honest it’s not the easiest car to drive, it is very hard to see out the back, it has a very big blind spot, and to reverse it is easier to open the door as you can’t turn your body around inside the car. Getting in and out is difficult since the car is so low to the ground and I have hit my head on the door a few times until I learnt my lesson. The advantage is that the car is so damn cool! Whereever you go people want to take photos on their phones and have a look. When I stand back I think the car just looks great, it handles the road well and surprisingly has heaps of grunt. Everything that makes the car annoying like the stainless steel panels, engine in the back, different size wheels, gull wing doors, etc, are also what makes it so cool!”

So the next question is what are the common faults of a DeLorean?

All brand new cars to he market have their “teething issues”, The DeLorean is of course no exception. To think that John founded the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) in 1975, Started building a factory in ’79 and had the first production car run off the line in ’81 is a remarkable feat. However as this was a brand new factory with new tools, a never before built car with some unusual features and a new manufacturing technique, DeLorean’s car was bound to have its fair share of issues.

Some of these issues were rectified on later cars, however as the factory was closed only 2 years later in ’83 most issues were retro-fixed by owners in the years after.

The most commonly encountered issue with all DeLoreans is sagging or drooping doors. The gull-wing doors use 2 systems to open and close; they have a cryogenic twisted torsion bar and a gas strut per door. The gas struts serve to hold the door open as well as to slow the door down so it doesn’t fly open and damage anything. Over time the gas struts wear out, causing the door to “droop”. This is one of the easiest things to fix on a DeLorean. You can replace the struts yourself in around half an hour. Have a look at this video for a very good demonstration on how to replace the struts.

Another common issue is the earlier cars were fitted with an underspecced alternator, causing the battery to not charge properly. With no load, the car would be fine, but as soon as you start using headlights the battery would discharge, leaving the car unable to start next time you tried. On the later cars this was fixed with a higher amperage alternator.

The engine has its own set of issues, suffering from “cam knock” quite early on, causing a “tick tick tick tick” noise, and the engine also suffers from fuel supply issues, causing issues like misfiring when warm, bad idles and hot starting problems.

There are other issues that the car can suffer from too, such as faulty central locking solenoids, causing the doors to lock, with the solenoid still active, forcing the lock closed. This means you can’t get out of the car and have to remove the door lock fuse in order to get the door to release.

Overall as you can see, owning a DeLorean isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but there is simply something about them that has created a cult like following, with vast resources on the internet dedicated to the car as well as the history of the Company and the man who founded it!