Our DeLorean Time Machine Restoration

You’ve all heard the saying “putting the cart before the horse”, right? Thinking that through and realizing that the average age of those visiting this website is probably a lot younger than ours, maybe you haven’t heard it put quite that way. We hope the following explanation will give you a better understanding of this term.

At any rate, since the conversion of our DeLorean to a very screen accurate “time machine” came out as well as it did, we began to think about the overall condition of the vehicle. The new gadgetry added a few hundred pounds to the overall weight of the car. It was now over 3,000 lbs with a driver and either Marty McFly or Doc Emmett Brown as a passenger. 

The original 130 horsepower motor had over 50,000 New England miles on it since it had been assembled in Dunmurry, a suburb of Belfast Northern Ireland, in October of 1981. It was given the VIN number 5556. This was an issue to begin with and our plan was to drive the car to some events. We certainly wanted it to be road ready and reliable!

Original, tired PRV engine.

Original, tired PRV engine.

Mind you, at the time, the car was already relatively close to the headquarters for the “new” DeLorean Motor Company in Humble, TX, near Houston. We did some soul searching and number crunching and decided to contact DMC regarding restoration work.

Arrangements were made so instead of our baby coming home to Massachusetts, we shipped her even further away to receive yet another facelift. At DMC, she underwent a total and invasive physical examination and evaluation. They shipped us a comprehensive listing covering the multitude of things that were necessary for the overall cosmetic and mechanical well being of our time machine. The staff at DMC invited us to take a trip down to their facility once the car was in 10,000 pieces. This would allow us to go over a few things that we may want to consider doing while the car was there.


So in August of 2010, we made the pilgrimage to “Umble” to spend a day with the DMC crew. Once there, we reviewed the list of the few items that needed attention. By a few I mean, like, everything! The “biggies” included a new frame since the epoxy coating on the original one had chipped away allowing moisture to get behind it and rust. New England is a great place to live but not especially kind to vehicles!


The list of work done to the car was extensive, as it is with most restorations. Those of you who have done a restoration know the domino effect of taking the car apart only to find one thing after another that needs to be or should be repaired, refinished or replaced. Remember, here we were standing in the middle of this DeLorean mecca, that was stocked from floor to ceiling with 100% genuine original stock from the very same manufacturing facility that had ceased to exist at the end of 1982. The remaining inventory of parts had been purchased by Consolidated International (a.k.a. Big Lots). Huge stockpiles of every conceivable component from engine blocks to gullwing doors were staring down at us begging to be called for and used. Virtually every nut, bolt and other part is available in their inventory. They can, and will, build you a brand new DeLorean utilizing 90% of the parts from their NOS (New Old Stock) inventory. Parts that are not available are replaced with like-new originals ,such as the driver front fender. Many of the parts are improvements that have evolved from the originals.

Rows of NOS PRV engines.

Rows of NOS PRV engines.

Aisles and aisles of parts!

Aisles and aisles of parts!

Our tired motor was replaced with the "Stage II" motor offered by DMC as a "performance upgrade". This process involves taking an NOS engine and porting/polishing the heads, replacing the camshafts and adding a high flow, stainless steel exhaust system. All this, plus a few other bits, give the engine better breathing characteristics and net an impressive 67 horsepower gain, up to 197. Cosmetically, the engine is enhanced by powder coating the cam covers, timing cover and intake manifold. We have since gone back to the original type engine, leaving the good looking stuff on and also leaving the HP exhaust intact.


Additional major components included a replacement of the entire suspension (we had the Eibach performance suspension added as well), a new clutch was installed, and the cooling system, the fuel system and the air conditioning system were all refurbished. Also, new hoses and belts, brakes, wheels and power window motors were installed. The electrical system, weather stripping, as well as various cosmetic items like the mesh in the front valance and some glass, received personal attention. We also had one of the seats and some of the carpet replaced.

One very interesting and intriguing aspect of this entire operation was our ability to watch this entire “operation” LIVE! That’s right, DMC had a web cam literally focused on our car for practically the entire four months she was in rehab. We watched as Todd, the technician who was assigned to our car, labored over the multitude of details and sorted out the jigsaw puzzle of parts that had been removed from the car and placed in storage bins next to our very own bay. Several times we talked with Todd on the phone and helped make decisions. Occasionally, he would literally hold something up to show us on the live stream as we spoke with him. 

There are pros and cons to having this constant ability to watch what was going on. Between Patrick and I, we probably checked in on our patient six times a day. I must say the number of times we would look at the closed circuit and nobody was working on the project and the sense that the meter was running, made you clutch your wallet!

One by one, the areas of concern on our 14 page invoice were taken care of. One of the final items on the list was the installation of the "wings-a-loft" system. This allows remote opening of the gull wing doors... very cool. We have now combined that with some sound effects just like in the movie, to enhance the overall presentation of our complete package!

After some prodding, the restoration was completed and all that remained was to get our baby back across the USA before the winter closed in on us. DMC in Humble assisted us with finding an appropriate, well-insured, reliable driver with an enclosed trailer to accomplish this task. We were amazed that the truck left their facility outside Houston during the evening of November 16, 2010 and, incredible as it seems, rolled into Massachusetts on the morning of November 19th.

The driver called before hand because there was no way he was going to be able to get down our narrow road with his massive trailer truck. We agreed to rendezvous in a Wal-Mart parking lot, just a few miles away. We arrived right on time but the truck had arrived a few minutes earlier. I swear to you, it was just like the mall scene from the movie the very first time the DeLorean is backed out of Doc Brown’s van. It was a supernatural moment to watch this event unfold.

Within minutes, there was a huge traffic jam with cars stopped, doors flung open and camera phones flashing as this mass of Wal-Mart humanity descended on our car. We had to push our way through the maze just to claim our prize.


My mind flashed back to the very first ride my grandson Branden and I had taken back (to the future) when I purchased the car in 1995 and we had all eyes trained on us. We knew this was the beginning of another adventure and we were going to enjoy the fruits of our labors.