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Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 10:27 a.m.

So it's been almost exactly 12 years since I essentially lucked my way into 'winning' an auction for a non-running 1983 DMC-12 DeLorean on eBay for which I was not the highest bidder- and that EastSideTim had essentially initially sent me the link to as a joke knowing how much I had always wanted one. Restoring it and getting it running and drivable took several years and a significant amount of what it cost to buy in the first place. I drove it around a modest bit for several years, taking it to car shows and simply driving it- including a trip down to Florida and back with it for a DeLorean Car Show (they're more like DeLorean owner conventions in reality).

Unfortunately, around the time that The Dancer and I got married and moved into our new house, I started noticing some unpleasant clunking from the front end of the DMC and upon closer inspection found that part of the front frame extension where the front sway bar attaches had rusted through, and that there was a good chance that at some point if I kept driving it and putting stress on it, the part would fail completely and compromise the front suspension- something that would obviously be catastrophic at any kind of speed (and Very Bad at any speed). So, the DeLorean got parked behind the house waiting for when I would have time to get everything else out of the way (and out of the garage) and I could put it into the garage to pull the body off the frame and repair the rusted portions. Almost 7 years later and nearly a dozen other vehicles spending time in the garage- and I'm finally at the point where the other vehicles (currently my E46 convertible and Infiniti QX4) are in conditions that what might need to be done on them can be handled in the driveway... so the DMC was finally able to be moved into the garage to begin the likely multi-year process of repairing and upgrading it.

Getting it into the garage in the first place was a bit of a challenge- it had sat without being started for some 2 years... I believe the last time I had it running was around when we got the hot tub that was supposed to go out to our cabin but eventually shifted to being kept here and a smaller, lighter one going out to the cabin. The good: the thing's carburetor-retrofitted PRV engine, while far from anything to write home about when it comes to performance, is stupidly hardy- and once I had enough power to the starter turned over without any issues and didn't take very long to built up enough pressure for it to fire over. The electrical issue took some doing- it eventually required a second battery in parallel to the DMC's (because it died once I disconnected the jump pack after starting it) along with my jump pack cranked all the way up to get it fired up. Also challenging is the fact that at the moment I can't get it into first gear- to put the transmission into reverse, you pull up (literally, pull the knob up toward the roof) and back and to the left , essentially below where 1st is. At the moment, the selector is frozen in the 'up' position- and it's designed to not let you put it into 1st in that state (so you can't slam it from R into 1st). So I have to use 2nd or 3rd to move forward, which requires revving it pretty high to keep it from stalling. Still, I made it work...

Placemotorsports GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/16/21 10:29 a.m.

Awesome, I'll be watching this one

iansane GRM+ Memberand Reader
3/16/21 10:38 a.m.

Good news, when you've got it running again you can just go back in time and give your old self the running car to enjoy it longer.

I like this. Can't wait to read about it.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 10:58 a.m.

Unfortunately, having sat out in the yard- much of the time uncovered- means that I'm going to have a lot more work to do than I would have if I'd have been able to store it under cover. The roof box, to which the doors attach, appears to be leaking- which means that the interior is going to need a LOT of cleaning that it wouldn't have otherwise. The good news is that early on I pulled the floor carpets and they've been in the garage all along- but the seat covers (which were replaced when I initially restored the car...) and many other carpeted pieces are going to need either some deep cleaning or unfortunately to be replaced (again). Honestly, even before getting into digging into the car and trying to figure out everything that needs to be done there's already a massive list (in length, scope, and time it will take) that I know needs to be done.

Obviously, the frame repairs are the main thing- and those alone are an astronomical undertaking that will require pulling the body off the frame at a minimum and at the most completely stripping the frame down so I can send it off to be hot tanked (the frame is soft, late-1970's steel with an epoxy coating- which cracks and breaks off and lets the frame rust) and either galvanized or treated or coated in some other way to keep it from rusting again after repairing it. Absolute pie-in-the sky would be to build a new tube frame for it, since the original frame is from a structural standpoint pretty inefficient and heavy.

Since at a minimum the body will be off and doing it will be infinitely easier, I really want to put a newer, more powerful & efficient engine into the car. For a long time I'd planned on that being an L67 supercharged 3800 V6, but am now more leaning toward a Renesis rotary out of a later-model manual RX-8 or something else even newer- the rotary is really appealing because a) I really like them in the first place and b) DeLorean's original plan was to put a Wankel- which he regarded as being the future of car powerplants- into the DMC-12, but the company in Europe that was developing one they would use never got it to work right so they went with the heavier, less-powerful PRV as a substitute. Honestly though, there are a LOT of more modern engines that could work well- the original PRV only put out like 150hp new, so that's not hard to beat at all. I really wish Mazda would make a new rotary-powered car so I could grab a wrecked one and use the newest rotary possible in it. I'm not planning on going too insane with the engine- there's no need for something super-powerful in a car like this. It needs more power and torque for sure- but it's not going to be a race car and need 300+ HP or the likes.

Remember the roof box that leaks? That needs to be replaced- which will involve removing the doors and pulling everything apart and replacing all of (what remains, at least) of the roof box with a new one- likely with one of the stainless replacement ones that a place in Europe makes.

Since I'm likely replacing the engine and will have most of the interior apart to clean, I'm looking seriously at completely rewiring the whole car. The wiring has been a problem from the start (yay 80's British wiring, assembled by largely untrained Irish workers), and since the new engine & its management system will require a lot of new wiring, simply ripping out all of the nearly 40-year-old wiring and replacing it with fresh wire would go a good ways in improving the reliability.

At a minimum, the wheels need to be blasted and re-coated. Honestly though, I'm leaning toward trying to find a good set of more modern wheels to use on it- I absolutely love the turbine wheels they came with, but it's nearly impossible to find tires in the original sizes now- and at last count it IS impossible to find a matched set of tires (nobody makes both the front and rear tires in the same pattern- or, I think, even brand....). Some nice wheels that are close to the original design with modern, low-profile tires would be an appropriate update along with the new engine.

I'm hoping that a guy who has been developing a full-digital dashboard for the cars gets it ready for primetime by the time I get further along with this- it's something that would work well with having to redo everything else.

One good thing: for the most part, the body is in pretty good shape. I had the front and rear fascias repainted when I restored it originally, and that paint has held up well. The rear bumper cover needs some straightening, but overall it's not bad. The body is one thing that beyond needing a good cleaning and some trim pieces replaced is not going to need much attention.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ PowerDork
3/16/21 11:02 a.m.

DeLorean?  Digital dash?  Rotary powered????

I'm in.  Any chance of a 20B instead of a 13B?

OjaiM5 HalfDork
3/16/21 11:04 a.m.

So AWESOME you have a DeLorean! The plan sounds good so far. 

Is the Hot Tub a time machnie as well? cheeky

damarble Reader
3/16/21 11:22 a.m.

Following. I always loved the idea of these but the drivetrain was so disappointing, and it seems wrong to repower a somewhat rare and expensive car.

I'm excited to see you do it though! 

FMB42 Reader
3/16/21 11:24 a.m.

I too will be following. That's a cool car for sure. Meanwhile, there's Delorean for sale at a nearby used car lot. I'll stop by and check their asking price (it only has 'For Sale' marked on the windshield).

SkinnyG (Forum Supporter)
SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) UberDork
3/16/21 11:28 a.m.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/16/21 11:37 a.m.

I have to wonder if one of the hot rod frame shops couldn't make you a frame that is infinitely better and about similar cost to repair Ring The Rusty and crusty one you have now. I also believe that I saw somewhere they are now making turbine-style wheels in bigger diameters which may help with your tire issue

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/16/21 11:42 a.m.


onemanarmy Reader
3/16/21 11:45 a.m.

I'd have no problem swapping in a new, modern drivetrain.  

Maybe 1 person in the world would be mad.   The rest of us just enjoy seeing a Delorean out in the wild and being used.

californiamilleghia SuperDork
3/16/21 12:11 p.m.

are you still going to run the Renault gearbox ?

Apexcarver UltimaDork
3/16/21 12:32 p.m.

Honestly, with the amount of work being undertook... 


I wonder if a Tesla repower would do well on one of these...  it just strikes me as a good performance EV platform.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 12:42 p.m.

In reply to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

I'd have no problems with it- 3 rotors is definitely better than 2- but the concern would be that 20Bs were rare even when they were in production 25 years ago so I imagine that finding parts for them (and sourcing one in the first place) would be a lot more challenging than finding parts for one that's only been out of production for less than a decade. Even better, as I said, if Mazda were to start making a new one...

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 12:44 p.m.

In reply to FMB42 :

The general rule I've heard is that you're going to end up paying $25K (that was a while ago, so it's more likely $30k now) either up front for a good condition running DMC-12 or pay that to purchase and fix it up. I came in well under that with mine originally, but I also did all of the work except for some help from friends and other owners in the final stretch of getting it back on the road. The good news is that almost every part you could need- and plenty of aftermarket, upgrade ones- are available either from DMC Houston or one of the other vendors.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 12:47 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) :

That's an interesting idea- I'll have to find out if there are any decent ones nearby that might be able to do it. I've done some research- there are two different places that make and sell new-built frames for them (both based off of the original frame). There's a place in Texas that makes stainless steel ones- but they're almost $20k and they don't sell them for anyone else to install them, they insist on doing it themselves (so, more $$$). DMC Europe makes a reinforced standard frame, but it's $7500 without having it shipped across the ocean and half the country to get it here.

Having one built custom for the car though could be good because I could say to hell with the original engine mount system and design it to mount whatever engine I end up deciding to use.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 12:49 p.m.

In reply to onemanarmy :

There are a number of purists in the DeLorean community, as there are in any. I'm not worried about it- I want to be able to be driving this car until I'm not able to drive period, so a newer more easily maintained and reliable drivetrain is better.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 12:50 p.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

Yes. From what I've heard over the years, overall the transaxle is pretty solid with one weak point- the input half-shaft- which I have a reinforced version of that one of the vendors sells that is what was used when an LS was swapped into one a ways back without any problems. The 5th gear syncro is going out though, so I'll likely be overhauling it anyway.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 1:09 p.m.

In reply to Apexcarver :

That is something I considered, but the availability of the drivetrains might be a concern. I've seen an electric DMC-12 before, but it was a homebrew powered by a ton of standard batteries that was made over a decade ago before all of the current EVs were around. It could be a challenge adapting things like the regen braking to the chassis as well- but mostly I wouldn't know where to get the drivetrain for a reasonable amount.

EDIT: I did a bit of looking on Copart's site- and while there are surprisingly a decent number of Teslas there most don't have any actual bids- but the one that does (2016 Model 3 in Atlanta that the auction closes tomorrow morning) has a current bid of $5200 but hasn't met the seller's reserve yet. I'm guessing that it won't go for less than $10k. There is a 2015 Model S in Nashville closing early tomorrow afternoon with a current bid of $3400 and no reserve- but the S is also AWD and it looks clear that the driver's front wheel area is pretty damaged.

FMB42 Reader
3/16/21 2:22 p.m.

I think you're right about the $25-30K Robert. IIRC, this car is the only vehicle on the lot that doesn't have a price on the window. This thing looks pretty good at a glance. I'll let you know what the lot is asking.

84FSP UltraDork
3/16/21 2:33 p.m.

My buddy Andy at Hestons in Lancaster OH could probably talk you thru a few Delorean things.  He just brought an 83 back to life after sitting for forever and had to go thru the aystems and get tires hoses etc.

MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
3/16/21 3:31 p.m.

The rotary DeLorean is an interesting what-if. 1983 did not exactly have a lot of options with light weight, high reliability, and good power. Rotaries are a bit heavy for their size, but at least they wouldn't stick out as far behind the rear axle as a V8. Mazda had both the 12A and 13B in production at the time. The only downside is that I'm not aware of Mazda ever supplying another manufacturer with rotary engines.

Stefan (Forum Supporter)
Stefan (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/16/21 4:43 p.m.

What about using a modified Tesla chassis?  You'd have to pull about 2' out of the wheelbase, unless you find a Roadster (but those are bonded aluminum Lotus chassis and that could work, but could be problematic if you need to modify it).

Another option for drivetrain might be the GM LFX V6, 300hp and a nice sound and pretty similar to the LSx for swapping.

I know one of the guys here restored the chassis on his Esprit by building his own sheet metal brake and cut and bent thicker gauge steel.  The chassis for the Delorean and Esprit are, um, very similar :)

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
3/16/21 9:44 p.m.

In reply to 84FSP :

Oh, I've gone through a good bit of the car already- I had to overhaul most of the mechanicals the first time around... rebuilt all the calipers, completely replaced the clutch system (the clutch was frozen in the disengaged position somehow), redid the cooling system, did a lot of electrical work, pulled out and cleaned the fuel tank and replaced the fuel lines and redid both fascias. About the only thing I didn't have to do was take apart the engine (well, never had to pull the heads or oil pan)- despite sitting for so long before I got it the thing has always compressed pretty much to factory spec. 

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