How did you get started with De Loreans?
I’m a mechanic by trade, and in 1983, I had an independent shop in L.A. that worked on English and French cars. The De Lorean was basically an English/French car [with a Lotus-engineered chassis and a Peugeot/Renault powertrain], so I started working on them. The company was having difficulty, and dealers didn’t want to work on the cars. I got so busy that I started concentrating on De Loreans. From there, it’s crept up. We opened another facility in Texas, and in 1997 I put together a deal to buy the remaining De Lorean parts inventory.
Why build new ones?
I’ve been in the business through the highs and lows, the drug bust, and Back to the Future. The car has stood the test of time. People kept asking, “Do you sell cars?” In the late ’80s, I started restoring whole cars. We had a waiting list. Then we decided that we were doing so much work on the cars that we should start building them from scratch.
Describe The Build Process.
We buy a donor car, strip it down, and discard the frame. We then build the car up again utilizing a new stainless-steel frame. We fit a new engine and transmission and all-new suspension pieces. Everything is built from the ground up. We also upgrade the fiberglass in the engine compartment, because it originally wasn’t very pretty. We put in new glass, sheetmetal, doors, and door mechanisms. The electronics are improved as well. We can upgrade the engine if requested [from the original 130 hp to 197 hp], and we offer a suspension kit. We also have various interior upgrades, from navigation to Bluetooth to in-car entertainment.
What are the weaknesses of the original car?
The electrical system was rushed into production and was based on 1970s European designs. There are a lot more electrical connections than are necessary. The original steel frame was dipped in an epoxy coating. This was really cutting-edge at the time, and they thought it was going to allow the car to last forever. Unfortunately, the epoxy cracks, and then moisture goes in and is held in. Instead of being a preventative, the epoxy accelerated corrosion problems. That’s why we use a new, stainless-steel frame. Pretty much everything else on the car is quite good.
And The price?
$57,500. The 197-hp engine-upgrade kit is available for $5750; the suspension kit is $399. A six-month, 6000-mile warranty is included.