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1983 DeLorean | Keeping the Legacy Alive

Dennis Keer’s Uncle Neal bought his DeLorean brand new in 1983. When he finally decided to part with it, his intent was to trade it in on a new Tesla. Dennis spoke up and said sell it to me! Unfortunately, Neal passed away shortly thereafter but Dennis has brought this car back to like new condition in honour of his uncle. Dennis met Ethan Rode through the Arizona DeLorean Club and they formed a bond centred around the mechanical restoration of his uncle’s car. Ethan did a full mechanical refresh of the car and now it is close to original condition.

Transcript:

It's so iconic. I don't think there's another car that it can be compared to it.


Hi everybody and welcome to Center Lane, I'm Bruce Hitchen. Today we're in Scottsdale Arizona and I'm here with Dennis Keer. Now Dennis has this gorgeous DeLorean. His uncle bought it brand new back in 1983 and Dennis has had it for a few years now. So Dennis, I thought maybe you could just tell me how did you come about owning this DeLorean? Well my uncle was thinking about getting, using it as a trade-in on a Tesla. He told me he was going to trade the DeLorean and two other cars that he had in on a Tesla. He had already spoken to the Tesla people and they said, yeah, they would definitely do that. But I thought, started thinking about it and more and more I thought about it, was such a special car and knowing this from my uncle made it even more special. And the fact that I know it was well taken care of and so I suggested to him, I said, why don't you sell it to me and keep it in the family. And he just drew back, like wow, you would really be interested in it? And he was just amazed. And so from that point on we were very excited about it and down the road a little bit further we made the transition for it and I'm so glad he did. He got it in LA in '83 but of course it was made in in Belfast, Ireland, where they all were made there. For '81, '82 and '83 was going to be under 9,000 cars were made. That's all, for all three years. So even today there's about 6,700 of them and we can, we can track them, every one of them, which is really nice. You know the car was so unique at that time. It was the third year of the DeLorean, the '83 was, and it had a lot of excitement about it, around it, and also around that time it was very interesting. In the year '83, they didn't have any Corvette at that time. Right. So I have a feeling that that might have made more interest on the DeLorean. After he drove it for a while and even his wife drove it as a daily driver, they decided to put in storage for a while and which they did. And then they left it there for about 25 years, I think. And that's when I, when I ended up acquiring it. What kind of condition was it in when you got it? It was pretty much...the exterior, as you can see, is just impeccable. There are no dents and dings or scratches and it was in great shape. He had it covered all the time where it was being stored and the interior as well, was beautifully. We just need to work on the engine and the drivetrain and so forth which we did. And I found a really wonderful guy here locally, Ethan Rode who helped me with the restoration and Ethan has been in love with DeLoreans ever since he was six years old.


DeLoreans have always been a passion for me. Really the car, it's really the car that turned me into a car guy. I've really been interested in them since I was a kid. I saw in a magazine a picture spread of a DeLorean and then later on I saw Back to the Future and that movie really captured my imagination.


When this baby hits 88 miles per hour you're gonna see some serious S*!t.


Watch this, watch this.


What did I tell you...88 miles per hour!

So when I had a chance to buy my own about three and a half years ago it was a dream come true for me. And I still finish myself every time I come out of the garage and, oh there's there's a DeLorean out here, oh there's several DeLoreans out here.


Are you telling me you built a time machine out of a Delorean? The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style.


I was in the automotive business for about seven or eight years and during that time I was working on mostly European stuff. Porsches, Volkswagens, Audis, Volvos. And the great thing about a... I don't know if it's a great thing about a DeLorean but the reality with DeLorean is that it's in some ways it's a parts bin car. We've got parts from Bosch who's a giant German manufacturer, we've got a lot of English parts in there. We've got a lot of European engineering philosophies. So for me there was a lot of common ground between what I already knew and what the DeLorean required, mostly in the fuel system. The fuel system is a, they're known as CIS or K-Jetronic and that's one thing that I feel like scares a lot of people away, especially modern mechanics because it's an antiquated system that not many people work on, are comfortable working on and it's something that I had a leg up on. We've got to remember that DeLorean had a very limited budget when they were building this car so things like the engine and transmission were ready made. They were something that had already been developed and proven and really was just tweaked for DeLorean's application and then put into the car. The frame and the suspension are very similar to Lotus parts of the time. They were developed by Lotus and then made by GKN. The interior of the car is very similar to a Lotus Esprit of that era. It is a parts bin special in some ways but in a lot of ways it's it's its own thing being rear-engine, the stainless steel panels of course, and just the final styling.


Peugeot and Renault were looking to develop a v8 engine, an all aluminum v8 engine and at that point restrictions put in place limiting the displacement of engines to a certain tax bracket. If the engine was over a certain displacement it would be taxed heavily. So they decided to change their aluminum v8 into a v6. Volvo was looking to develop v6 at this point too and Volvo jumped into the mix and they developed this engine that's in the DeLorean which is, we refer to as the PRV. Peugeot, Renault, Volvo engine. It's an all aluminum alloy v6, single overhead cam. In this instance it's a 12 valve engine so two valves per cylinder. Bill Collins who was chief engineer of the DeLorean of the time had a contacts at Renault, and they ended up making a deal with Renault to use this engine. The factory had excess production capability so it was really a great solution for DeLorean because they really didn't have to develop their own power plant. They didn't have to develop their own drive train. It's mated to a five-speed Renault transaxle. So this is a transaxle where the gears and differential are all in the same case like you'd find in a Volkswagen, Volkswagen Bug or Bus. This is a five-speed, yeah like you said, five-speed transaxle. It's known as a Renault UN-1. But it's a very strong gearbox. The engine and transaxle in this car are pretty stout units, like they're, they, it's not usually, that you know, serious engine problems that take these cars down, it's fuel system problems.


Dennis's car was uh really the first DeLorean that I had touched other than my own. And Dennis's car, he probably told you, had been sitting for several years in his Uncle's garage. When I went to go see it, the car was running but it was running very poorly so I knew we were probably looking at some fuel system issues at a minimum. Once we got in there, it was apparent that the fuel system needed some pretty serious work. It had been kind of botched together to run but it wasn't running well, it wasn't running correctly.


We pulled the engine out, tore it apart and looked at everything. And Ethan is just such a fabulous person as far as his knowledge of the the DeLorean and its capabilities as well.


We replaced all the injectors, we had the fuel distributor rebuilt and the warm-up regulator rebuilt. So these are the core pieces of the fuel injection system. I took the engine out to reseal it. It leaked oil pretty bad and while we were in there we discovered that it had a really bad sludge problem. So the heads came off to go get blasted and rebuilt and the engine basically came apart to get cleaned out and we did a few just kind of basic maintenance things to to get this thing to be as close to new as possible. There were a few electrical upgrades that we did, went through the front end rear suspension with new bushings up front, new shocks all the way around. My goodness, we did a lot to Dennis's car and I'm really pleased with how that car turned out. It's probably one of the most comfortable DeLoreans that I've ridden in, it's a beautiful example of a late model car.


Well basically what I said to Ethan Rode, I want to do this right and if something needs to be replaced we need to replace it. I don't want to fix it to run and then, as it breaks down and fix it to run, and continue that pattern. I want to fix it right and so we did so anything that was in question, we fixed.

The binnacle had to be completely remade. We had that done up in San Francisco and a few other little details but basically, he had taken such good care of it, there wasn't too much cosmetically that had to be done. I got the car, I've been having a kick driving it. It's a lot of fun and so the car's name is Neil, after my Uncle. Oh that's nice.

My my advice to anyone looking for DeLorean is, get an education. Understand the the common faults that we see in these cars, the common failures, and just be prepared because there's new ones, we're seeing new, kind of pattern failures at this point, 40 years down the road.


There's a DeLorean club in each major city, each major state in America. And in Arizona where I live, there are about 20 members and about, almost 20 cars. We did a ride recently where we took nine of them, nine of us together, went up to Wickenburg, Arizona and had a great, a great time. And we got a lot of looks. When I drive it, people always want to stop and talk to me about it and tell me something about. They've never seen one before and a lot of people have never seen one on the streets before, which is really interesting. So it gets a lot of attention.


I love DeLorean's because it's one of those things that you can drive around in your weird little 80s, kind of bastard of a car, and...first of all, it's fun to drive, it's very rewarding to drive, and second is, the people who see it and know what it is, man you just see them light up. It's really funny, you'll be driving and you'll get honked at, you'll get waves and thumbs up.


It was my uncle's and it meant a lot to him. That was, that was a big part of it and the other thing is, it's so iconic. Because, I don't think there's another car that can be compared to it in terms of the imagery that it has and everybody immediately thinks of Back to the Future and has some story to tell and especially, and it hits all generations too.


It's one of those things where, just by driving around in your car you can kind of bring some sunshine to someone's day. and uh i think sharing the car with people is one of my favorite things about owning a DeLorean. It's really a piece of history. John DeLorean was a total maverick. He was a a brilliant, arrogant guy and to decide well I'm gonna go, at the top of his game, I'm gonna, I'm gonna start start my own car company. I mean what a what a bold move but he did it at a time where people just weren't doing that. And so the the history behind the car is, is still fascinating to me. Now having the the real thing in the palm of my hands and and being surrounded by all these cars is a real treat for me. I want to kind of honor John's, John's legacy and keep his dream alive.

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