The DeLorean Project

The DeLorean - A total of around 9000 DeLorean's were built between 1981 and 1983 before the DeLorean Motor Company shut it's doors permanently due to financial problems. The DeLorean, best known for its use in the Back to the Future movies, still draws attention and interest and is supported by a small yet well established group of enthusiests and parts/service centers. My DeLorean, #6683, was built in late 1981 and is in fair condition (special thanks to Rich Weissensel for his time, effort, and money over the last couple of years without which my DeLorean would have probably been in a grave rather than in my garage). Although never abused, it was still a good 20 years old, and had the wear and tear to show for it. My mission was to restore it to its former glory, and this page documents the repairs I completed.

DeLorean #6683 - circa 2002
DeLorean #6683

    Repair List

    Special Notes For DeLorean Owners

Dash Replacement -- although the A-posts and binnacles are available from DMC Houston, the dash top is currently NOT available (10/16/2001)! Beware should you ever want to replace your dash top. Since new ones are not available, it will be necessary to restore your old one. This means getting your dash top out in one piece and possibly taking it to a specialty shop for a new vinyl cover. Worse yet, removing the dash top may very well be the toughest DeLorean repair project there is. To get the dash top out, I have removed all of the knee pads, the entire center console, the glove box, the binnacle and instrument cluster, the front speakers, and the A-posts. And the A-posts cannot be nicely removed without also removing the front windshield. I was willing to tear apart my A-posts because I am replacing them with new ones. However, I will still need to remove the windshield in order to install the new A-posts.

In the pictures, you can see how badly the old binnacle was damaged. The dash top was in similar condition. The fair/good condition binnacle shown is painted with SEM Plastic and Vinyl paint (which I highly recommend), but the color used, Presidio, is a shade lighter than it should be. Also pictured is the refinshed dash top and glove box top. I decided to have the upholstery shop also refinish the old binnacle (see picture of binnacle by itself) so that it is a perfect match to the dash top. This means the fair/good condition binnacle will not be used and will probably be sold to another DeLorean owner. The speaker cutouts on the refinished dash were a little sloppy, but Sound Performance cleaned them up and installed a nice set of custom speaker grills.

Dash Removed Painted Binnacle Comparison Recovered Binnacle Dash - left side Dash - right side Dash - left closeup Dash - right closeup Dash - speaker grille

The dash restoration requires so much disassembly that it would be wise, in addition to the dash top, to plan on fixing everything in and around the dash. This could include repairing or replacing other parts of the dash, repairing broken switches, redoing or replacing the center console switches, repairing any dash lights or switches, repairing any vacuum problems in the climate controls, installing a new radio, and/or fixing any problems with the instrument cluster.

Dash install 1 Dash install 2 Dash install 3 Dash install 4

Reassembly unveiled a new problem. I was actually expecting this problem; I just did not expect it to be as bad as it was. The new vinyl covers on the dash pieces add volume, resulting in clearance and fit problems. As a result, the entire dash is about 1/4" further back (towards the back of the car) than it should be. This I was okay with. Also, the glove box top now rubs against the dash top such that the glove box top does not open freely (although it still opens). This I was also okay with. However, the recovered binnacle was a problem. It's alignment was unsatisfactory (it would have been pushed about 1/2" back from its original location, which would require new mounting holes and, in my opinion, would not have looked right). I was also unhappy with the appearance of the recovered binnacle from the front (the instrument cluster side). So, after some reflection, I decided to ditch the recovered binnacle and return to the painted binnacle.

A second problem during reassembly was the appearance of the center console. Not apparent when paired with the old dash top, the center console was also sun damaged and discolored. This become quite apparent when installed next to the new dash top. Now I was faced with a hodge podge of dash pieces, all a shade off in color from each other. The recovered dash top was one color, the painted binnacle was a shade off from that, the center console had a brownish appearence, and the new A-posts and original knee pads were yet a slightly different shade than everything else. Solution? Take the dash apart again, and repaint the center console and knee pads using the same SEM vinyl and plastic paint that was used on the binnacle. End appearance is shown in the pictures above; I think it looks pretty good. The binnacle and kneepads are closer in color to the dash top than it appears in the pictures. They probably appear further off in color in the pictures because the vinyl paint is more reflective than the dash top vinyl.

Dash Dissasembly Procedure
This procedure assumes that you will be replacing the A-posts and you have the guts and money to have the windshield removed and replaced.
  1. Remove windshield. You will be sooo happy you decided to do this (assuming your glass center of choice does not break the windshield taking it out).
  2. Remove A-posts. They are held on by the adhesive on the vinyl of the A-posts (the vinyl wraps around the fiberglass frame). Be careful not to remove the bead of glass sealant used for the windshield. Check with your glass center, but more than likely they will want you to leave that bead in place!
  3. Remove glove box top.
  4. Remove glove box. The glove box is held in only by four screws, but you will need to unhook the glove box switch and unhook and remove the glove box light before you can lift out the glove box. The backside of the glove box light is easy to reach. Unscrew the plastic nut to remove the bulb. You will also need to unscrew a second metal nut to remove the fixture itself.
  5. Remove center console vent.
  6. Remove the radio. This step is suggested, but not required.
    The next four steps can be skipped if you do not wish to remove the center console.
  7. Remove shifter knob. The shifter knob simply unscrews.
  8. Remove shifter boot and plate. The plate is held on by two screws and you will also need to unhook the dimmer and clock. Pay attention to which wires go where.
  9. Remove center console tray at rear of console. It is held on by two screws.
  10. Remove the center console. It is held on by six nuts. Four can be reached through the opening left by removing the shifter plate, and the other two are reached through the opening left by removing the center console tray. You will also need to unplug the window and defrost switches. Be careful with the wiring under the center console so as not to rip any of it out.
  11. Remove driver and passenger side kneepads. The driver side consists of 2 pieces, each with 4 nuts. Don't forget that your steering wheel can tilt and telescope; this will come in handy. The passenger side is 1 piece with 6 nuts. The passenger side kneepad is a billion times easier to remove (or replace) if you remove the glove box first, so get that order right if nothing else. Don't forget to carefully remove (or replace) the duct work.
  12. Remove binnacle. It is held on by four 7mm nuts. You will also have to unplug the two instrument cluster plugs and the speedometer cable.
  13. Now that everything else is out of the way, remove the dash top. Unplug the front speakers. If you did not remove the A-posts, the also remove the front speakers. Remove the defrost trim pieces. Each side of the dash top has several nuts to remove. There are also two little bastards right in the center. This is the point at which you will be glad you removed the center console vent and radio. Lift the dash out (or lift and slide backwards if you did not remove the A-posts).
  14. Congradulations. Your car no longer has a dashboard. I would like to thank the people of DeLorean for providing a fiberglass skeleton for the dash to mount to. If you have ever removed the dash on a car that has no frame underneath (such as a mid 80's Mustang) then you know what a mess of cables and wires can be left behind on the floorboard -- not a pretty sight. Reassembly is the reverse of removal.

Control Pressure Regulator -- If you order a control pressure regulator from DMC Houston, please take note that they do NOT include new banjo bolt washers. Make sure you have them include some when you order. You will need at least two 8mm washers and two larger washers (that I believe are 10mm). If DMC Houston does not have the washers (although the certainly should) then you can also order them from MotorVac. Other things I am not sure about yet that you should check on -- it may be advisable to use anti-sieze compound on the mounting bolts, and check to see if there is a specific torque specification for the banjo bolts.

Pressure Regulator

Rear-mounted Power Antenna -- Many DeLoreans came with a rear-mounted power antenna. The antenna is installed in the left rear quarter panel area. To get to the antenna, remove the 4 bolts on the plate at the left rear of the engine compartment (ignore the 2 bolts towards the center of the plate). Mounted behind and attached to this plate is a canister. To get it out, try turning the plate 90 degrees before removing it. Once this is out, the antenna is easy to get to. Mine was mounted to a silly bracket that was attached by a nut towards the rear of the vehicle and by a bolt at the bottom of the bracket. Once the bolt and nut are removed, you will have to slide the bracket off of the bolt at the rear of the vehicle (the one the nut was attached to). Unfortunately, this bolt is insanely long and you will probably have trouble pulling it off due to interference where the top of the antenna pokes through the body panel. To make it easier, unscrew the nut holding the antenna to the bracket at the top of the bracket. This should give you enough free play to remove the bracket. You can pull the entire antenna assembly and bracket out without too much trouble; move it down as far as possible and then pull it out top first.

Antenna 1 Antenna 2

Hmmm...I wonder why my power antenna doesn't work? Probably lucky the car didn't catch on fire! If your unit looks like this one, note that you can buy a similar replacement from Juliano's Interior Products. On my replacement, I had to convert the plugs for the power wires and for the antenna itself (replacement used different connectors). Be careful when installing the new antenna -- there isn't alot of clearance for play so alignment is critical.

Reverse Light Switch -- First of all, take note that I have the standard 5-speed transmission, so I do not speak for Automatic owners. With this in mind... This job was easy easy easy easy easy easy easy. EASY! If your reverse lights do not work, crawl under your car and jump the reverse wires (with ignition on) and see if they come on. If so, go order a reverse light switch and install it as soon as it comes in! I suppose it is possible that you might have an internal failure in the transmission. However, I think this is highly unlikely. Say a short prayer and go order the switch. It is a pretty cheap part; about $13 from DMC Houston. The reverse light switch is easy to reach (with car jacked up in rear) and screws into the driver side of the transmission. It is covered by a rubber boot. Pull the boot back, unplug the spade terminals, unscrew the old switch, screw in the new, plug it back in, and recover it with the boot. You're done!

Switch Overlays from DMC Houston -- DMC Houston offers switch overlays for redoing the labeling on the center console switches. The kit is about $35. I wasn't quite sure what this kit would include, but I ordered it anyway as my switches look pretty bad. For anyone else who is wondering what this "kit" includes: more or less, it consists of stickers. A base sticker goes down first; then a black top sticker goes on top of that. The coloring on the base sticker shows up through the cutout on the top sticker. The black cutout stickers include arrow cutouts for the windows, a somewhat too large defrost cutout for the defrost, and stickers with the cutout "DMC" for the outer fake switches. The cutout stickers are slightly smaller than the base stickers resulting in a small border around each one. The kit includes two sets of base stickers from which you can choose. One of them is white and the other is a silver color that looks like stainless steel. These stickers only cover the top, so you may want to paint the switches with a satin black plastic paint before applying the stickers. If you have more money to spend, I would suggest waiting a few months -- DMC Houston is planning on coming out with a reproduction defrost switch this fall, and they already have available reproduction window switches. I think each one is around $40. All three switches will cost you around $120, and you can just paint the outer fake switches will some satin black plastic paint. This will probably look better and you will probably also have the benefit of a new switch feel.

The pictures below show the center console with the switch overlay stickers installed. I followed my own advice and painted the switches with a satin black plastic paint before applying the stickers. End result looks pretty good. If you decide to go this route, just bear in mind that properly lining up each of the many stickers is a delicate and critical process if you want it to look right.

Center Console Button Overlays

Adding Illuminated Switch for Door Lights -- Another popular modification that I have decided to implement is an on/off switch for the door lights. Personally, I love the door lights. However, when leaving the doors open for an extended period of time (either when working on the car or showing it), it is ideal to be able to turn off the lights to prevent an unnecessary drain on the battery.

I chose to use an illuminated switch. Largely for ease of installation, I decided to install the switch in the console tray at the rear of the center console. I could have ordered a new switch and used it in place of one of the dummy switches, but I had already applied my button overlays to the existing dummy switches and did not want to re-do them. Besides, I had a neat idea in mind for the illumination on the new switch.

Door Switch 1 Door Switch 2 Door Switch 3

Rather than have the switch illuminate anytime the switch is turned on, I decided that it would be a much neater and useful effect if the switch illuminates not only when on, but only when one or both of the doors are open. I described this idea to my brother who quickly sketched out the simple wiring schematic shown above. (Thanks Bro!) This schematic does not yet take into account the "door ajar" light on the dash (oops, just remembered that was there). This design required me to rewire the switch such that the illumination light is wired independently of the switch itself. This required installing a fourth spade terminal (one empty spade slot was conveniently available), and moving the light wire from the switch contact to the new spade terminal. The addition of the fourth spade terminal also required that I trim down one side of the metal rocker such that it would not come into contact with the new spade terminal. In the picture, the new spade terminal is in the lower left hand corner of the switch.

A little warning -- if you consider mounting a switch or anything else in the tray, be warned that you will likely encouter clearance problems due to the large wire bundle that runs beside and behind the tray. Oops, I forgot about that! I had to unwrap the wire bundle and reroute some of the wires to get it to fit.

    Final Thoughts

Overall, I would say my repair project was successful. There were a few areas where I think I could have done a better job, but part of that was just a lack of experience with the types of modifications and repairs I was performing.

Unfortunately, due to some bad fortune in my recent past, I had to give up the car. I passed #6683 back to Rich Weissensel, who has hopefully found it a good home. Had I known I was not going to keep it, I would have refrained from making any modifications (trunk, engine, and marker/dome switched lights), as those mods were just for my own personal preference. Regardless, I left it in better condition than I found it. Someday when my fortunes are better, I may try to track #6683 down again to see how it is doing.

And Rich...saw you on Monster Garage! Very cool. I hope you had fun. :-)

    Special Thanks To:

Last Updated 1/11/2004 by Scott Arnold
Minor Corrections 9/14/2005 by Scott Arnold
Valid HTML 4.0 Transitional