Eurofest is a celebration held every 5 years at the DMC factory grounds and other local attractions in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This year marked the 35th anniversary of the opening of the factory. James and I decided to take some extra time off beforehand to have a small vacation in Belfast before the events unfolded. It is always a very pleasant place with great people and beautiful scenery. We have been to Northern Ireland four times in the last five years for various DeLorean events and personal trips, so it is becoming a second home to us.
The event started on Thursday, May 26th, so we arrived on Saturday, May 21st to settle in and see the sights. There is a +6 hour time difference from Houston, so there is also a jet lag issue to overcome. We basically slept the first day and ate at Little Wing Pizzeria, our favorite local restaurant. We ended up eating there three more times before our trip home. The second day we picked up some brochures at the hotel lobby and ended up visiting the World of Owls, an interesting sanctuary for birds of prey that have been purchased as pets and surrendered once the owners realized it was not a good idea, and visited a local grocery store for some of our UK food favorites.
We also spent time in Dublin, down in the Republic of Ireland. It was my first time to travel south into the Republic, and we chose to visit St. Patrick's Cathedral and eat at a small chain called Wok to Walk that James was dying to have again after eating it during a trip to Amsterdam.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous up until almost the exact hour that Eurofest began. We started the event by driving up to the Stormont Parliament Buildings for a photo op before heading to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Around 80 DeLoreans from 18 countries showed up, and the rest of us followed in a bus. Getting to see the queue of cars lined up on the motorway was an exceptional sight. The Transport Museum houses several DMC relics, including the wooden mockup car showing Giugiaro's design changes as part of the "refresh" it needed, and one of the 50,000 mile test cars that was driven for hours on end to prove the components used on the cars could make the cut.
Friday was the day everyone was waiting for - the trip to the factory grounds, now split between Montupet and Bombardier manufacturing companies, and the famous test track, upon which the DeLoreans would be once again allowed to drive. It is a very emotional experience. Not all of DMC's buildings are still around, and some new ones have come up in their places, but for someone who is familiar with the layout of the factory, the physical presence is still very much real. The test track is owned by Montupet, and they have kept it completely untouched. The Irish weather allowed the once bare field with a few well-manicured saplings to become a forest, and the dead leaves and branches cover the asphalt of the track until it is cleared off ahead of time by Eurofest workers. It is a terrible sight to see, but it really has acted as a protective layer for the track's surface, and it is still in remarkable shape underneath. Attempts have been made to get it recognized as a historical landmark, but for now, it sits unused and underappreciated in-between Eurofests. I know if someone could do more, they would.
On Saturday, we were able to view the local Ulster Aviation Society's aircraft collection, something not open to the general public. There were lots of WWI and II era planes, as well as some modern jets and helicopters. The collection itself is housed in two 70 year old hangars that were used in the war effort for the assembling of bomber aircraft. We then traveled from the airfield to the Titanic museum and memorial that was built in 2012 to recognize the 100th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage and subsequent sinking. The DeLoreans lined up on the actual slipway used to move Titanic into the water as she was built, allowing for some great photo opportunities and a great melding of Belfast's history.
Dinner Saturday night was bittersweet, as everyone knew that the event was drawing to a close. It is always great to visit with the people I have made friends with, and owning a car like the DeLorean means that so many of them live very far away from me, so I have to cherish events like these. The test track and remaining factory buildings could eventually be torn down as the companies that now operate there expand, so there is a chance every Eurofest could be the last. I think we all go there knowing that. If you have never gone or have always wondered if it is worth the trip, I can only say "GO!!" You will not regret it.
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The 2016 DeLorean Convention and Show is coming up in Springfield, Illinois at the end of July, and I am planning on driving 2932 from Houston to the event. It will be the longest road trip the car has been on since the 2010 show in Lexington, Kentucky! I enjoyed seeing the countryside in my DeLorean and James and I have been itching for another road trip, so this is the perfect excuse.
The only problem with taking 2932 out on a road trip is that I have no control over the weather - we will be exposed whether it is sunny or pouring down rain. Now I am not saying that my DeLorean is driven only in pristine conditions - I've always gone out in whatever weather I have to. But, for being as hassle-free as a DeLorean can be in the nearly 7 years I have owned it, 2932 does have one slight problem...the roof box.
What is the roof box, you may ask? This is the mild steel low rectangular box that sits underneath the stainless steel T-shaped roof panel. The downward mark of the T runs between the two doors, and the crossed portion at the top of the T is at the rear of the car and holds the torsion bars - the cryogenically twisted metal springs that allow the heavy doors to raise upward so that you can get in and out - in place. The roof box was painted black and epoxied to the top of the fiberglass underbody at the factory and then loaded up with the doors and torsion bars. In theory it works fine, but give it 35 years of sitting through rainy roads, driveway car washings and misty morning parking lots, and it will begin to show its age - rusting out and separating from the fiberglass it was bonded to.
The first indication I had that something was wrong in the roof area was that my passenger side door would always pop slightly ajar on the rear latch while I was driving. Sometimes this would even happen with the car sitting still in the garage overnight. Having a door come ajar in a DeLorean while driving is not as spectacular as it sounds - the door does not just fly open all the way without warning while you're cruising down the highway, sucking out occupants and loose 80's cassettes. Each door uses two independent latches, so the worst that will happen is that either the front or the rear of the door will pop open about an inch outward from the body of the car, and you will get lots of road noise and outside air.
The next warning sign was water leakage from the front roof area into the interior of the car. I found this out while driving home from a 4th of July parade and getting engulfed in a massive thunderstorm. The rainwater started pouring in through the driver side sunvisor mounting points and the front dome light, covering my lap and the shifter area of my center console. I ended up having to remove both of my shoes in order to pull off my socks and place them under the dripping areas to stop the water from doing any damage. The water was rust-colored and not just overflow from the deluge - my socks still bear those stains. It was not fun.
After that, I knew the roof box was on its last leg. It was in dire need of replacement, but doing so meant removing the doors, stainless T-panel, headliners, windshield, and replacing the old tattered roof box with a new one, preferably made out of stainless steel or otherwise protected with more than a coat of paint. It was a big job, and more than James and I had room for in our garage at home. It was the only thing stopping the car from being its best, and I wanted it fixed before traveling 1600 miles in it. DCS 2016 was the perfect excuse to get it going, but it was time to call in the experts. My car is now temporarily a customer of my own service department. I am opting to install a new e-coated steel roof box, which is a dipping process that ensures the inside of the box is protected, not just the outside. Work is currently underway...
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Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm a car nut, bird lover, and musician. I have recently transitioned from music teacher to automotive service manager, and there have been lots of cool stories and crazy characters along the way!