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Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/18/21 10:39 a.m.

So, one last picture from the engine bay for now:

In the front passenger side of the engine bay, normally covered by a plastic cover, is both the ignition coil and the pass-through for most of the wiring for the engine bay. This is one area that is likely to change substantially as I both replace the engine and likely rewire the car. The connectors here are pushing 40 years old, and weren't always the most reliable in the first place. What exactly I do will at least in part be determined by what wiring I will need for the new engine and accessories.

And now, on to one of the things that I was dreading getting into... the roof box. In a seeming act of solidarity among my cars (because the E46 convertible has similar issues...), the DMC has pretty much always had issues with water getting into the cabin in heavy rains- it would somehow get in and soak the headliner and drip down and accumulate in the cover for the map light. I initially thought that the headliners getting soaked was because I hadn't trimmed the new headliner fabric I'd installed when I restored the car initially back enough and it was soaking up water from the roof, but the problem persisted even after trimming it back- so it more and more became likely that there was a leak somewhere in the roof of the car, the majority of which is a metal 'roof box' to which the doors and the hardware associated with them attaches to. To do anything with the roof box, the 'T-Panel' on the roof of the car had to come off, so that was the first thing I did here. Here's the panel itself off to the side with the louvers and engine cover...

And here's the car with the T-panel off...

That's.... not a promising sign. It's supposed to be dry under there, and quite clearly isn't. Granted it's not the worst picture I've seen of a roof box- I've seen them where there's just tons of rust already- but it's still not good. Another shot, this one a bit lower on the back so the fact that it looks like the center of the box has lifted up from the body:

Here's the top of the center section, with the access cover for the door harness connections removed:

It's difficult to tell just how much I'm going to need to do on the roof box... the good news I think is that overall it doesn't look like any of the parts are badly rusted and failing- but I also can't see inside the center section to see what's going on there, and with the doors on it it's difficult to see how bad the sides of the center section are. Since I've not dealt with this before, I've asked for thoughts on the DMC boards. My hope is that I just need to pull the center section off, clean things up and figure out where water is getting into the cabin from, potentially install a repair kit to correct the bowing in the center of the rear piece (a common occurrence given that torque from the doors' torsion bars want to twist it away from the center). If the center section is in too bad of a shape, I'm hoping it's possible to get just the center section from someplace and not have to spend the $1500 that the full roof box replacement costs.

Removing the doors to get a better look at things (and significantly reduce the weight of the body to make it easier to pull off and move around to work on the frame) will make things clearer. It's a bit complicated though given the torsion bars- I should have the tools I need (reaaaaally long 1/2" extension and longer breaker bar) from Amazon tomorrow, and either today or tomorrow will hit the hardware store to pick up the materials to build the 'jig' you use with the extension to adjust/remove the torsion bars (shown below).

Next up: starting to pull the interior and a first look at why I want to rewire the whole blessed thing...

solfly Dork
3/18/21 11:11 a.m.

I like it. Following.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/18/21 12:21 p.m.

So, next up on things I worked on was pulling some of the back of the interior. The seats need to come out to make pulling things in the center/front of the car easier, and pulling those will be marginally easier when the doors are removed (since the doors aren't staying up properly at the moment). Yeah, pulling things from the back will be easier with the seats out as well, but I wasn't trying to do everything, just make progress.

Here's what the back 'parcel shelf' area of the DMC looks like with everything pretty much installed normally (the 'flap' on the left is the carpet section that flops down and hides the battery compartment cover- for those that don't already know, the battery on the DMC-12 is located in a compartment behind the passenger seat and is accessible only from inside the car)

Here it is with the parcel shelf carpet and the back closeout panel removed:

With the carpet removed, you can see one of the (many) unusual/interesting things about the car- if that looks like wood on the left and right of the shelf? Congrats, you're right- it is wood.

Here are the panels removed- these wood pieces serve as the covers to the two electrical compartments behind the seats on either side of the car. Why wood? These days they would be made of plastic, fiberglass, or (if more strength was needed) some kind of composite with a core, but apparently when the car was designed and built some 40 years ago wood was the beste option they could come up with. These aren't the only wood pieces either- the slanted piece behind the seats is also wood (though it is covered in carpet). I've considered trying to build non-wood replacement pieces for these, but honestly this is one case where 'if it works, don't berk with it' seems to apply... they've worked fine for the last 38 years of the cars existence and aren't causing any problems, so for now they may get cleaned up and perhaps a new coat of paint, but will not be replaced.

What do these wood pieces hide?

A nest of wires that would make most respectable rats run away, and fast. This is the right hand/passenger side compartment- it houses the relays, fuses, and other modules on all DMCs and in mine also has some additional wiring for the battery cut switch (most of which you can't see), some of the wiring for the wireless entry/alarm system, and the additional +12V tap (the relay sockets at the top with the red-wrapped wiring).  This mess of things is partly why I'm seriously looking at completely rewiring the car. Even without having the wiring for a whole new engine and engine management system, the wiring is a mess to try and figure out. At one point after doing all of the major work, I could tell you what most everything there does- but at the moment there's a lot that I'm not certain of and will have to figure out again. Since a lot of the things are going to be replaced or made redundant with a new engine management system, it makes some sense to just replace everything with modern wiring/fuses/relays and clean things up (not to mention the fact there has always been a slow drain somewhere that is half the reason I have the battery cut system...).

Here's a look at the compartment behind the driver's side:

On a stock K-Jet fueled DMC, this compartment holds the 'computers' that controlled the engine's fuel management system. Since mine is carbureted and that is controlled by, well, physics, those boxes aren't present (you can see the long, black connector in the picture that would have connected to one of them). On my car, this compartment mainly houses the control box for the wireless lock/alarm system (you can see the box on the left with the 'CM' on the label) as well as the amplifier for the subwoofer (you can't see it because it's down below the lip of the slanted panel, but you can see the RCA connectors that connect the stereo to it). Down below on the slanted panel is the custom subwoofer install- it's a fairly small sub, but it provides plenty of bass. It's in a custom wood enclosure (that may well need to be remade because of how much water was getting into the car...) that fills up what is usually a small storage compartment behind the driver's seat.

I was curious, so I hooked the battery up and checked it out, and despite everything the stereo, sub, and amp seem to work properly as do the speakers- which is nice because not having to spend several hundred dollars replacing the speakers, sub, and amp (the head unit is likely getting replaced with a CarPlay capable one- if I don't end up with something even more custom....).

ShawneeCreek (Forum Supporter)
ShawneeCreek (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/19/21 2:39 p.m.
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) said:

Id say a gm 60v6 would fit well, and fit the spirit of the car. A modern 3400/3500/3900 would hive PLENTY of balls, be cheap and compact, and an almost infinite serviceablity due to being gm.


Robert, if you are interested I have a 3900 V6 and matching F40 6-speed manual from a Pontiac G6 GTP that I'm trying to get rid of. Even if you don't want either of them I can get you some dimensions off of them.

Regardless, I'll be following this. I've always found these cars interesting. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
3/19/21 3:40 p.m.

This is quite the project!  A rewire sounds like a great idea and a whole pile of work.

OjaiM5 HalfDork
3/19/21 4:12 p.m.

I am really enjoying the pictures. fascinating

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
3/19/21 4:38 p.m.

Whatever engine you put in, I'd probably want it light so it isn't super rear heavy.

Mezzanine Dork
3/19/21 4:54 p.m.

Loads of cars of this era used plywood in just this way. It really isn't a terrible solution. Reasonable weight and strength; lasts forever as long as it doesn't get too wet. Thanks for the detail shots of tearing it down. These cars are an enigma (to me) and I love seeing the details of what makes it up and how it is laid out. 

FMB42 Reader
3/19/21 5:50 p.m.

It's good to see that you're tackling this vehicle Robert. Hats off to you. Seriously, the spaghetti wiring mess alone would make me think twice (my wife and I owned/operated an 2 bay brick and mortar auto electrical shop for ~ 5 years in the mid '90s). Meanwhile, wood and rat's nest wiring were par for the course on many RV/motor homes from that era.

ValourUnbound Reader
3/19/21 6:05 p.m.
Mezzanine said:

Thanks for the detail shots of tearing it down. These cars are an enigma (to me) and I love seeing the details of what makes it up and how it is laid out. 

+1. This is an interesting car in general and your plans for it make it even more interesting. Keep up the good work..

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/19/21 11:06 p.m.
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) said:

Huh. I don't think I've ever seen one without the louvers. I kind of like it, actually.

I honestly always thought there was a glass hatchback under the louvers, rather than a flat engine cover. Guess I never really thought about it, but seeing this one with the louvers off was kind of a surprise for me. 

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/20/21 5:53 a.m.

If ever there was a car begging for a Tesla drivetrain, this is it. 

I realize it would be pricey, but it would be amazing. 

orthoxstice New Reader
3/20/21 7:26 a.m.

Years ago an acquaintance of mine asked me if I'd drive out to New Jersey to help him get the DMC-12 his father had owned running and driving so that he could put it up for sale. I think he offered me a quarter of the sale price... needless to say I said no. Fascinating to see this torn into. 

regarding Delorean purists; they should just be happy it's not going to end up as a back to the future car. 

One last thing: any time the PRV is mentioned I feel obligated to post this absolutely insane Volvo two guys in the PNW built and rallied. They claim over 600 hp and 500 lb/ft of torque. Both of the builders comment under this BAT article 


I know you're swapping it, just a glimpse of what a later PRV can be made to do!

mblommel Dork
3/20/21 8:46 a.m.

It's so interesting to see the insides of one of these. 

The plywood covers remind me of my old Lotus Esprit S1. They share quite a bit of DNA from what I understand.

Have you considered a GM LFX V6? All aluminum DOHC, 300+hp, cheap. The Camaro application is longitudinal. Easy exhaust routing too since they have a single exhaust port. Just an idea.

docwyte PowerDork
3/20/21 5:51 p.m.

You must LS this.  The performance of these was always overmatched by the stellar looks of them.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 8:48 a.m.

In reply to ShawneeCreek (Forum Supporter) :

The 3900 would be an interesting engine- but I'm probably not going to decide for a bit exactly what I'm going to use until I get further in on things. Whatever I use will almost certainly be used in conjunction with the original transaxle unless I'm going full-out and have a whole new frame built.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 8:58 a.m.

In reply to Antihero (Forum Supporter) :

In stock form, the DMC has about a 65/35 rear/front weight balance, so it wasn't the best to start with. I believe that the PRV was typically considered to weight around 350lbs, whereas say the Renesis about 250lbs. Weight reduction is something that would be nice for sure.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 8:59 a.m.

In reply to Mezzanine :

Glad you're enjoying it! Yeah, the wood covers are definitely a case for me of it not being broke, so I'm not planning on 'fixing' it.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 9:05 a.m.

In reply to orthoxstice :

Oh, I know that the PRV can be a good motor- it's just that doing so with an engine that has been out of production for like 30 years for my case just doesn't make sense.

And yeah- I'm definitely not doing a Time Machine conversion on it. I toyed with seeing what a vinyl wrap for the sides to make it look like it would cost since that would be amusing and require no modification to the panels or anything on the car (besides having to remove the aftermarket 'wide' strips on the side). If my MIL had kept her vinyl wrap business up in WI I might have looked into it more seriously since I could have gotten it done essentially at cost of the vinyl and ink, but she got out of that business a few years back.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 9:13 a.m.

In reply to mblommel :

Yes, the DMC does share a good bit of DNA with the Esprit- if you look at the frames for them both they're very similar (as is the Europa), so it's not a surprise to hear that the Esprit had wood panels as well.

As I said earlier- I'm not really ruling anything remotely modern out completely- I'm probably going to bias toward engines that are still in some form being manufactured so I'll have a good parts base for a ways to come (the Renesis being the one definite exception to that). There's also going to be the consideration that some newer engines may be difficult to run with aftermarket engine management and the consideration that many now are drive-by-wire and I'd have to work out the pedal assembly.

mblommel Dork
3/22/21 10:10 a.m.

In reply to Ashyukun (Robert) :

This may be pertinent to your interests:


I know some folks like the American Chevy V8 rumble. I'd rather have more of a "sports car" soundtrack which is why I suggested the LFX. The one in the Camaro with the factory optional performance exhaust sounds pretty amazing. 

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 10:27 a.m.

I didn't have quite as much time this last weekend as I would have like or even usually had since I didn't have Friday off as I usually would have and spent most of Sunday on visiting one of The Dancer's friends for her birthday. But, I did have Saturday morning and early afternoon, and with KYAllroad helping was able to get a major task accomplished. But, I'll get to that in a bit...

SInce the next major thing I wanted to do required help and Jeremy couldn't come over until a bit later, I decided to knock out something a bit simpler- clearing out and opening up the luggage compartment. Being a rear-engined vehicle, the DMC's luggage compartment (or trunk, but we usually don't call it that since it implies storage in the back of a vehicle...) is located forward of the windshield under the luggage compartment cover or, given the car originated in the Great Britain, the bonnet.

Not going to lie- under normal circumstances, there's usually more crap in the compartment than up in front of the windshield- but I had mostly emptied the compartment out when I parked it. Of course, the only gas struts on the car that are still working properly and doing their job right are the cheapest ones, the ones that hold up the luggage compartment cover. I'll give a bit of a tour of what all is under here- since there's actually quite a lot. We'll start at the bottom-left of the above picture with the white/clear plastic cap you can see which is the windshield washer fluid reservior cap-

The windshield washer fluid reservoir is located in the gap on the front left fender between the luggage compartment and the fender. I didn't take any good pictures of it on Saturday, but an interesting thing to note is that due to the construction and orientation of the luggage cover the washer fluid nozzles are attached to the wiper arms themselves- which can make them a challenge to get to work properly with the wipers moving. Here you can also see the driver's side hinge (replaced with updated stainless ones when I fixed the car up the first time) as well as the switch for the (mostly useless admittedly) light under the cover (the green wire you see is my quick-and-dirty wire routing for the alarm system). Next up, we'll go counter-clockwise to the bottom right in front of the windshield and the gas filler cap...

Yes, to get to the gas cap and fill the car up with gas, you have to completely open up the luggage compartment cover. Located under the rubber cap to the right is the access to the clutch fluid reservoir. On early DMCs, there was actually a 'gas flap' in the luggage compartment cover that allowed you to fill it up with gas without having to open up the whole compartment, but for various reasons (including I believe that they had a problem with wind noise and the cover wanting to flap around at highway speeds as well as making the stainless for the cover simpler to fabricate) it was eliminated fairly early on. The presence of a gas flap (as well as whether or not the hood has longitudinal grooves) is a quick way to tell (assuming it hasn't been swapped) where in the production cycle a DMC-12 was built. Mine was toward the end, so it has the flat (no grooves) hood and no gas flap. Next up- the luggage compartment latch.

On a stock DMC-12, this isn't anything particularly interesting- but mine isn't quite stock, so is worth commenting on since it has the actuator for the remote/keyless system that allows me to pop the doors and luggage compartment remotely (if the doors were properly set up, with the torsion bars set correctly, popping the doors would mean they'd actually open automatically- mine hasn't ever been quite set right, but will be after all of this). The luggage compartment release though does pop up the hood- the latch is built such that when you either hit the button or pull on the handle in the cabin and release it, the cover pops up a few inches and stays there so you can grab it to open it. You'd better have the trim strip installed along the aft edge of the cover too, since it's folded stainless sheet and kind of sharp (like many other places on the car...).

Finally (before removing the carpet & spare cover), we get to the front of the luggage compartment...

At the very front of the luggage compartment on the front wall is a panel held in by two quarter-turn fasteners that opens up a smaller compartment between the front of the compartment and the back of the front lighting closeout. It's not all that big, but is primarily intended to hold the jack for the car since it doesn't fit into the compartment where the spare is stored. I use the compartment for storing a bit more than the jack under normal circumstances...

The usual contents of the sub-compartment, at least on my car: the scissor jack (will probably be trying to take apart and clean this up as part of this whole process), a collapsible lug wrench, spare belts (mine had a bad habit of chewing them up, so I always keep spares), bungee cords and ratchet straps (remember what I said earlier about the luggage rack if the rear tire goes flat?), and a space blanket and emergency first aid kit (most of my vehicles have some variation of these even if in this age of cell phones they're likely not as necessary as they used to be).

ebelements Reader
3/22/21 10:34 a.m.

Absolutely love seeing one of these taken apart. As a child of the 80s, the DMC holds a special place in my heart (even though they don't seem to be very good at being a car). Following this journey for sure!

In regard to the wheels, have you thought about having them converted to 3pc? That would step them up diameter-wise, giving you a better choice of tires. It would also modernize the look without changing the feel of the wheels. If you're looking for examples, there's a guy on instagram that goes by "chamorroboy86" that seems to be the most proficient. Here's a side-by-side example of some Nissan wheels, but he's tackled dozens of OEM conversions and they're all very well done.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 10:35 a.m.

In reply to mblommel :

That is definitely interesting- I hadn't realized he was (in theory, haven't confirmed it yet) making kits for the LS4 conversion. It would be interesting to hear whether the LS4 and LFX share a bell housing bolt pattern such that the adapter could be used for the V6 as well. While I've been figuring on doing a lot of the work for this on my own things like that which can make my life a lot easier are certainly not going to be ignored...

EDIT: Looked up his page for the swap kit (https://www.lsdelorean.com/swapkits)... LS4 pattern kit is $3500 and the LSX (more generic pattern) kit is $3750. Ouch. Though I have no idea what it would cost to have the custom flywheel machined, and I imagine the raw materials aren't particularly cheap these days, so it's quite possible that he's not marking it up that much.

Ashyukun (Robert)
Ashyukun (Robert) PowerDork
3/22/21 10:47 a.m.

In reply to ebelements :

That's an interesting idea, will have to keep that in mind. I know that several places including DMCH and DMC Europe have claimed to have/be working on updated wheels for the cars- here's what DMCH showed off about 5 years ago (though it's worth noting that it's not listed or shown anywhere on their sales pages, so in all likelihood they picked up a set from someplace- possibly DMC-EU- and showed them off as their own).

I like the style overall, but they're too shiny IMO- I like the less-polished look.

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