How I Got a DeLorean
My quest for a DeLorean began with a lot of research. In the early days I was looking into the deal-breaker questions: What do they cost and can I fit in the car?
What do they cost?
When I first started looking into getting a DeLorean back in the early 2000's, they cost about $25,000. You can still find them at that price, but they're pretty hard to find and their condition may be questionable. I found a solid daily driver (maybe not mint, but reliable with all the major updates) for $29,000. So fortunately the price was just barely within reach of my budget.
Can I Fit in the Car?
I'm 6'4" tall, so height is a big factor in my selection of sports cars. In High School I'd dreamed of one day owning a Mazda Miata. Then I had a chance to sit in a convertible Miata and discovered to my dismay that my head was a full five inches over the top of the windscreen. So before I could let myself really dream about owning a DeLorean, I had to find out if I would fit. I read with excitement in John DeLorean's autobiography that he was 6'4" and designed the car to be comfortable for tall people, but I wasn't able to ever find one to sit in. So it was with some trust that I put a $1000 deposit on a DeLorean sight-unseen and hoped I would fit. When I got to test drive the car, I fit with just a bit of room to spare. Let's just say it can be kind of uncomfortable for me to wear a baseball cap while driving the car.
With those to real dealbreaker questions resolved, I went about researching the car's reliability, if it would make the drive back to Alaska, and how to do a pre-buy inspection.
Through a friend, I was able to find a guy who owned a DeLorean and asked him if he thought the car could make the 3700 mile journey from Michigan to Alaska. He thought it would be fine, so I was encouraged that the car might not be horribly unreliable. I then set about figuring out how to do a pre-buy inspection on the car and stumbled upon The Illustrated Buyer's Guide to DeLorean Automobiles, a helpful book by DeLorean Motor Company (yes, it still exists) Vice President James Espy. I read it several times and found it encouraging. Key parts seemed to be readily available and not too expensive. But as a shade tree mechanic, I was concerned I would be able to really go through the car in an effective manner. The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was purchased after the original company went bankrupt in 1983 and has several locations around the U.S., so when I found a DeLorean for sale through a auto museum near their Midwest location, I called up the company and asked if any of their mechanics would be willing to go to the museum and do a pre-buy inspection for me.
I discovered the DeLorean community is a small and helpful group. My contact at DMC Midwest was not only willing to put me in touch with a guy who could do the pre-buy for a reasonable price, but offered to have a look at the pictures of the car online right then to see if the car was even worth me shelling out the money for a pre-buy. Based on the pictures, he figured the car needed another $10,000 in updates to be in good shape. That pushed the car well out of my price range, but fortunately DMC Midwest had a DeLorean for sale on consignment that was squarely in my price range. I know that may sound a little sketchy, ("That car is junk, buy ours instead!") but I was relieved to have the opportunity to purchase a car directly from DMC. Not only would I have the piece of mind that experienced DeLorean mechanics had looked it over, but I would also have a little more traction with them should there be any issues with the car in the future.
I was a month away from moving to Michigan from Alaska, but DMC allowed me to put a deposit down on the car to hold it until I could get to Crystal Lake, Illinios for a test drive. I happily put down the deposit and a month later drive the four hours to their location for the test drive. After 16 years of researching the John Z. DeLorean story and dreaming of owning a DeLorean, it was absolutely surreal to be driving to Illinois to potentially buy one. It was actually terrifying. What if something didn't work out? What if I didn't fit? What if the car broke down in the test drive? What if, what if, what if...
[To be continued...]
Watch me buy the DeLorean
Back to Alaska: The Ultimate DeLorean Road-Trip will include footage of me driving to Illinios with my wife to buy the DeLorean and the moment when I'm handed the keys and my 16-year-long dream is finally fulfilled.
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