As I have mentioned previously, James Espey was the first person I met from DMC Houston and, coincidentally, he was also the person in charge of car sales. So all of my paperwork and dealings went through him when I was purchasing 2932.
Once I brought the car home, I spent time driving it around, getting used to it, and planning what I was wanting to change and/or upgrade to improve the car and make it more personalized. My dad and I would put together a parts list during the week for me to pick up at DMC after work, and then we would install them over the weekend, usually finding out that we needed more parts to finish the job, causing me to come back the next week for the remainders (the ongoing cycle of car restoration!). Since the car was mechanically sound, I was able to focus on cosmetics and performance improvements. During my trips to DMC, I got to know more of the employees there, and James was also always around to say hello and ask how I was enjoying the car. He was a former DeLorean owner himself, so I would bounce ideas off of him and ask him questions about certain parts or systems that weren't explained well in the shop manuals. We would chat a bit during the day via email and on Facebook, and occasionally go out to dinner after my trip to DMC to continue visiting, as I usually got there around closing time.
6 months into ownership, I had completed the remaining cosmetic work on the car and deemed it ready to debut at its first car show. It was a spring show held at the San Jacinto Monument, a beautiful stone pillar near the Battleship Texas. There were no other DeLoreans signed up to go, so James opted to join me in a car that was currently being restored for sale at DMC and was needing some road testing.
The show started off great - it was quite a small turnout but there were some interesting cars to look at while we waited on the judges to make their rounds and the awards ceremony to begin (James opted not to enter the car he drove, as it was not technically owned by anyone). We also walked around the grounds and visited the small Battle Of San Jacinto museum that was housed in the foot of the monument. By now, we had become very close friends and were very comfortable spending time together. Later that afternoon the award ceremony began and about halfway into it, a massive wall of rain approached the tiny show tent that we were all congregated around. You could feel the rush of cold wind and hear the thin "sssssss" of the falling rain hitting the grass on the field grow louder as it swept towards us, a sheer face of misty white. James had been slightly behind me and quickly grabbed me and pulled me close to him, standing tall between me and the near-horizontal downpour. It was soon no use, and we all gave up and scattered into our nearby cars to wait it out, dripping wet. A few minutes later it had subsided to a sprinkle, allowing us to cautiously creep back out and finish the remainder of the ceremony. As the crowd dispersed, we said our goodbyes and I gave James a hug and thanked him for trying to keep me dry. He laughed and quickly bent down to kiss me while I was looking up at him. I buried my face in his chest with a blushing smile and hugged him tighter.
We both had realized how much fun we were having while we were in each other's company, and by then it was inevitable. We could talk about DeLoreans to each other, visit car shows, spend time working on cars, and knew the other one wouldn't mind. I also noticed and appreciated his devotion to his career, as I was also working long thankless hours as a teacher and "got it" - neither of us would be nagging each other for working late. Soon we became inseparable, and James now refers to himself as the best salesman in the world...
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... or 2932, as it has become known. Since DeLoreans are virtually identical, owners have taken to calling their cars by the last 4 or 5 digits of the VIN number. Mine ends in 02932, so it is 2932 for short. Some of the last cars have all 5 digits used up, such as 12932 or something similar. The VIN numbering system started with 0500 rather than 0000, so my car is technically around the 2,432nd or so off the assembly line.
The first thing that my dad and I changed on the car was trading out the non-stock Alpine tape deck for a modern Kenwood head unit. The tape deck had stopped working over the years, and I was mostly listening to music on CD and from my old iPod Video (rest in peace), so an upgrade was in order. Some car owners are into keeping their cars stock, and I respect that, but I was wanting to make my car as comfortable and easy to hop in and drive as possible. A modern sound system was a must. We also built a custom speaker box that sits on the rear parcel shelf and taps into the wiring for the car's original rear speakers. It holds two 6.5" rounds and has a hollow in between them for a subwoofer, but we never got around to installing one. The box is covered in black vinyl to match the interior of the car and aside from taking up most of the storage area in the car and being in the way of anyone needing to reach the relay compartment area underneath the parcel shelf, it is a great addition to the sound system.
I have also installed LED lights inside and outside the car, since the electrical system is the weak point on a DeLorean. Anything I can do to help reduce the current draw on the car is a must, and the LEDs stay cool to the touch and put out more light than the original incandescents, so it's a win-win situation.
I eventually brought 2932 back to DMC Houston for some performance work - I had the original suspension setup upgraded to the performance set of shocks and springs, bringing the front end of the car back down to where it should be. The cars were originally designed and wind tunnel tested this way, with the lower front end acting as an aerodynamic wedge to keep some semblance of downforce when the car was at highway speeds. DeLoreans are rear-engined, so with nothing more than a gas tank and spare tire in the front end of the car, they have a very heavily rear-biased weight distribution. This makes taking even a small corner at high speed very uncomfortable, as the rear end of the car will want to swing wide and outward from your line of travel, called oversteer. Why was the design of the car altered into something it was not intended for? Changing US bumper height requirements and crash test rules led to the design having to be... modified... into something that would allow the cars to be sold. The company's solution was to install taller springs on the front of the car, raising the nose to meet these requirements, but completely destroying the smoothness of the steering. The suspension replacement set brings the car back down into an aerodynamic feel again and completely changes the way the car drives. If you can only do one upgrade on your DeLorean, I suggest doing this one!
2932 also received a Stage I performance exhaust upgrade, which swaps out the manifolds and crossover pipe of the original setup and replaces them with headers and a performance muffler, giving the car a great rumble, and some extra horsepower to add to the Go Faster Stripes. I also opted to have the mast antenna in the right front fender removed and the hole plugged with stainless and regrained so that the fender does not show signs of having an antenna. The cars originally came with windshield-embedded antennas but they were changed to fender antennas when customers complained about the poor radio reception. These fender antennas were a temporary solution until power antennas could be ordered and installed on the cars, so there are three different antenna setups on DeLoreans, all of which are "factory." John DeLorean did not want an antenna breaking up the lines of the car, so I opted to have mine removed to replicate that. I don't listen to the radio, so it was not missed. A rear-mounted power antenna can always be added later.
What upgrades have you performed on your car, whether you're a DeLorean owner or not? Do you agree with keeping a car stock, or are you into upgrading it and personalizing it so that it is something unique?
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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!