There are many excellent resources online for the DeLorean DMC-12 automobile. One unique advantage to the DeLorean as a classic car is that there was only ever one model, the DMC-12. Now while there were changes during the 9000 car production run, other than a few changes ('gas flap hood' to 'no gas flap') the cars are largely identical - produced in both manual and automatic drive.
This webpage will focus only on the fixes, updates, and upgrades made to the DMC-12, to enhance the ride and reliability of the car. This listing is not intended as a how-to for these changes. If you're interested in learning how to fix or upgrade the DMC-12, then the forum DMCTalk.org is a fantastic resource and community.
Table of Contents
- Door Lock Control Module
- LED Lighting
- Electric Power Steering
- Remote Door Lock/Unlock
- Door Lock Wedgectomy
- Shocks Upgrade - Height and Ride Adjustable
- Front Suspension - Stainless Control Lower and Upper Arms
- Front Suspension - 'Wishbone' support
- Door Inner Weather Seals
- LED Headlamps
- Impact Bumper Refurbish
- AC Panel Lights
- AirBox Vacuum Elimination
- Center Console Reconfiguration and Airvent Relocation
- Defroster Circuit Rebuild
- Side Marker Lights as Indicators
- Auto-dimming Rear View Mirror
- Door,Lights, Key, & Seat Belt Warning Module
- Window regulators
- Door Lock Actuators
- Heated Side Mirrors
- Footwell Lighting
- Poly Bushings
- Inconel Trailing Arm Bolts
- Variable Intermittent Wipe
- ICE Removal
|Door Lock Module||
The DLM locks or unlocks both doors due to the key locking/unlocking either door, or the passengers locking/unlocking the doors using the mechanical levers on the door armrest. The circuit has high standby amps and can run down the battery.
The fix is known as the Elvis DLM upgrade and involves replacing module transistors and diodes, and optionally upgrading the two relays. These changes leave the operation of the module unchanged, but reduce the power draw.
The stock DeLorean is 100% incandescent bulbs - state of the art for 1981. The power draw is detectable when all of the lights are turned on. Replacing all bulbs (other than the headlamps) is possible and now relatively inexpensive.
The most complete source of instructions for a LED lighting swap is found here. The article describes all the bulbs that can be replaced and how to find LED equivalents. The bulb in the hazard light button (on the center console) can cause problems. Replacement bulbs will cause shorts and blown fuses unless the wires are clipped from one side.
|Electric Power Steering||
The stock DeLorean is manual steering. While this provides good 'road feel' it can be a bit of a chore to steer at low speed and does compromise working the gears. DMC Europe does sell a retrofit power steering column, but its is rather expensive (engineered by a 3rd party company that specialises in power steering refits).
I've selected to add an electric assist motor to the steering linkage that lies between then end of the stock steering column (at the front firewall) and the steering box. This requires a power steerin assist motor to sit inplace of the linkage. Also multiple universal joints are required to account for changes in angles. The motor is held in place by a bracket mounted to the front frame.
|Remote Door Locks||
To provide the DeLorean with remote door locks, i adapted a remote door lock unit from eBay. The module sits in-line with the stock DeLorean door lock module. When it detects a remote lock/unlock request, it triggers the correct line from the door lock module.
The new module uses the stock 'church window' style connectors so just connects in-line with the DLM and does not require wiring changes (other than providing permanent 12v and Ground).
|Door Lock Wedgectomy||
One quirk of central door locking on the DeLorean is that both doors can become locked even if one of the doors is currently open. This places the open door lock in a position, such that if the door is then closed the door pin will not be accepted and the usual bump can distruct the door linkage or damage the lock.
The door lock wedgectomy is the removal of a small plastic knob inside the door lock mechanism. Removal allows a locked door to be closed without damage to the lock or alignment.
Since the TesLorean could slightly change the DeLorean's 40:60 (front:rear) weight distribution, new shocks and springs can help with adjusting the ride height of the car.
In its stock configurations, the front of the DeLorean appears to ride high, so lowering springs are a common upgrade.
These SPAX shocks are height adjustable and also provide for adjustment to ride response (the speed at which the shock responds to movements).
|Front Control Arms||
The stock front lower control arms on the DeLorean are prone to rusting and potentially failing at the lower ball joint. The TesLorean has been fitted with replacement stainless steel lower control arms. These are both strong enough to handle the stress demands and not subject to corrossion.
The TesLorean also has upper (wishbone) stainless control arms. The stock arms can flex and distort over time.
|Front Wishbone Support||
The stock DeLorean lower control arm is connected to the DeLorean once at the frame and to the anti-sway bar (which approaches the hub from the front). This is not as stable as a true wishbone design and wheel position flexing is possible - especially when turning.
The TesLorean is fitted with 'wishbone' supports designed and fabricated by <>. The support sits to the rear of the lower control arm and significantly reduces the likelihood of the rear wheel flexing rearward.
|Door Inner Weather Seals||
The stock DeLorean doors have a bulb-like door seal around the inner edge of the door openning (not on the door). When the door is closed, the inner stainless skin of the door presses into the edge bulb. Because of the bend in the doors, as they are closed they can rub past parts of the door seal. This commonly leads to seal tearing. Seals can also suffer whe the driver and passenger get into and out of the car as they come into contact with the seals.
I have edges the inner door edge with a solid (non-rubber) edging. The weather bulb is instead moved to the door. As the door closes it contacts the door entry edge cleanly and does not results in seal rub or tearing.
LED headlights have been available for several years, however there have been a limited selection of DOT approved lights and thus they were very expensive. Recently more DOT approved lights have become available in the 4x6in rectangular format and thus 100% LED headlamp solutions are possible.
The TesLorean headlamp wiring has been reconfigured to light only markers (when the DeLorean marker lights are on), all four headlamps in dipped headlamp mode, and all four headlamps in full beam mode. Using all four bulbs will increase the road illumination possible from LED bulbs.
The stock impact bumpers are made of a dense foam. On the DeLorean the rear impact foam had become water logged and badly damaged. I replaced the original with modern impact foam, which is much lighter. The front impact foam was re-usable.
To provide a clean surface and protect the foam, I coated it liberally with rubber paint. The paint solidifies into a pliable waterproof rubber layer.
|AC Panel Lights||
The AC panel is the bottom half of the center control. In the stock DeLorean the panel is lit by small incadescent bulbs that sit behind the semi translucent print panel. In the TesLorean these lights are replaced by a LED lighting panel designed by David Mckeen and available at DM-eng. This provides more consistent and colorful lighting.
|Airbox Vacuum Elimination||
The airbox contains several vacuum actuators that are driven by a vacuum switch on the back on a AC panel control knob. The actuators move the blend doors that switch the airflow from defrost mode, to central vents, to floor vents, and combinations thereof. With the loss of an engine, the TesLorean also looses access to vacuum. This means that the blend doors much be actuated electrically.
The TesLorean airbox is fitted with GM blend door actuators controlled by the Trip Computer to effect changes in the airflow based on the position of the stock AC panel control knob.
|Console Reconfig and Airvent Relocation||
For direct pasenger air, the stock DeLorean has two center vents and two vents located in the doors (at the front of the armrest area). The door vents are notoriously poor as the ducting leaks and flow to the doors is convoluted.
In the TesLorean the door vents and center console vents have been moved to the knee pads. The driver has a vent on either side of the steering column and the passenger has two vents (at either end of the kneedpad) directly in front of them. The vents in the doors have been sealed off.
|Defroster Circuit Rebuild||
The DeLorean has an electric element rear window defroster. The defroster control button toggles on and off, and when on a warning light illuminates in the AC panel. The defroster can be switched on and left on, so that the warning light is the only signal that it is on.
The defroster in the TesLorean was swapped to a timed relay meaning that once toggled on, the defroster will only stay active for 15 minutes before automatically switching off. The defroster circuit was also extended to include the new heaters in the side view mirrors.
|Marker Lights as Indicators||
The marker lights (lights at the front and rear side of the DeLorean) are integral to the car styling and design. In the stock configuration the marker lights are permanently on when the sidelights, headlights, or beams are on. Given the design of the DeLorean front (sunken indicators) and rear bumpers, if a DeLorean were signalling to turn, a driver in another car on either side of the DeLorean may not be able to see the signals.
The TesLorean is fitted front and rear with modules available from David Mckeen of DM-eng, that cause the marker lights to operate as normal when not signalling, but which become indicators when signalling. A car to either side of the TesLorean will see the marker lights blinking when the signal is activated.
|Auto-dimming Rear Vew Mirror||
With the very low driving stance of the DeLorean, once of the first things you notice when driving at night is that headlamps from SUVs and trucks are blinding.
The TesLorean is upgraded to have an auto-dimmng rear-view mirror. This required running a power and ground line to the mirror mounting position. Modern auto-dimming mirrors require very little power, but the are heavier than the DeLorean mirror which is mounted directly to the front windscreen glass.
|Cabin Warning Module||
If you start the stock DeLorean without your seatbelt clicked, you will hear what has been described as a 'strangled goat'. The seatbelt warning buzzer is a purposefully annoying sound.
The TesLorean has a warning unit from a Cadillac fitted. It provides a warning chime if the seatbelt is unclicked, the handbrake is left off or the headlamps are on (when the engine is stopped), or the doors are open (when driving).
The door open chime can be disabled, as DeLoreans commonly take part in parades with the doors are open while driving.
The stock window regulators include plastic tubes that are or will crack with age (not necessarily use). The TesLorean is fitted with replacement modern window regulators.
Fitting new window regulators is seen as a DeLorean ownership 'right of passage' as there is every likelihood that you will get cuts from the stainless steel edges, not to mention having to work on doors that are suspended overhead.
|Door Lock Actuators||
The stock DeLorean uses solenoids to push or pull the door lock linkage to actuate central locking for the car. The solenoids are heavy pieces that add weight to the door. In some cases the solenoids couod also cause curcuit burnout and shorts due to electrical design flaws elsewhere if they were activated continuously.
The TesLorean has replaced the solenoids with modern door actuator modules.
|Heated Side Mirrors||
The wiring to the doors in the DeLorean suggests that heated mirrors may have been included in the original design. However the wiring is not used in the production models. Heated mirrors are available, which with some door wiring modifications can be triggered by the defrost circuit.
Heated mirrors are available from DeLoreana.com. Mirrors are also available that include a modern extended convex - reducing the side of the blind spot.
The TesLorean includes LED footwell lighting that activates whenever the sidelights or headlamps are on. An additional switch also allows for the footwell lighting to be deactivated when night driving.
After 35 years, almost every rubber bushing in the original DeLorean will be suffering from dry rot. This provides an opportunity to replace the bushings with modern rubber or upgraded poly bushings.
Where available the TesLorean's bushings are poly, however some simple bushings (rear upper and lower control arms) are only available in rubber.
|Inconel Trailing Arm Bolts||
The rear wheel hub of the DeLorean is hekd in place by three forms, the upper and lower control arms and the trailing arm. The trailing arm connects to the frame at the rear mid-section of the frame. At the frame it connects using a long bolt through a substantial bushing. The long bolt can bend or sheer over time due to repeated loadings on the rear suspension.
The TesLorean has replaced the bolts with Inconel bolts which are both stainless (will not rust) and which are extremely strong.
|Variable Intermittent Wipe|
The TesLorean does not require the engine, engine management system, transmission, alternator, water pump (belt-driven), clutch pedal and assembly, AC compressor (belt-driven), vacuum components, and brake booster. These components will be removed from the car carefully leaving all the brake hydraulic and electric systems in place.