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MODIFIED DELOREAN DMC-12: FROZEN ASSETS

Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 10th November 2020

When your accountant advises you to acquire a safe business asset, the only logical thing to do is build an ice-cool bagged DeLorean, right? That’s certainly Nick Allen’s kind of logic…

Feature taken from Fast Car. Words Dan Bevis Photos Dan Pullen

The 1980s were all business. If you weren’t barking ‘Time is money, my friend!’ into a huge mobile phone, resplendent in red braces and fat screw-you pinstripes, you weren’t playing the game. There was no time for anything but Filofaxes, three-martini-lunches and the acquisition of colossal wealth. And if you want to buy into that eighties culture today, you’ve got to have your business head on. The retro nostalgia is nothing without a keen focus on the bottom line. So when Nick Allen decided to buy himself the DeLorean you see here, it wasn’t a frivolous recreational pursuit – his accountant told him to do it, this was a strictly logical financial decision.

No, stop sniggering, it’s true. “I run a business, which makes me the guarantor for the rent on the place,” Nick explains. “My accountant said that I should buy an asset worth the value of one year’s rent – that asset shouldn’t be part of the business or my house, so in the event of the business going tits-up I can sell it and cover the rent for a year. My wife agreed that this was a good idea too. I didn’t tell her what I had in mind, but in my head I thought ‘F*** yeah, I’ve just bought myself a DeLorean!’”

Alright, at this point we should probably suggest that this perhaps wasn’t a decision totally informed by logic. No-one buys a DeLorean to be sensible. And Nick’s motoring history indicates that he’s got a playful sense of unique modifying; regular UK showgoers will most likely be aware of his bagged Volvo P1800ES. He’s also owned a brace of ex-police V70 T5s, and a couple of dozen other cars including an old-school Mk2 VW Scirocco (which he still owns), and that’s essentially a DeLorean without the gull-wings, right?

“The DeLorean’s pretty much the most eighties icon out there, isn’t it?” he grins. “I figured that since they’re going up in value so quickly at the moment, if I didn’t get one now I may never get one.” Ah, you see, he’s trying to justify it rationally again. As well he might, in fact, as Nick bought extremely well: “I bought it from a guy well-known in the DeLorean scene in the UK – it was imported from the USA and I became the first UK owner of the car, and its second owner overall. I had criteria of low miles and good chassis; this one came up with 5,600 miles and immaculate underneath.”

It was a truly excellent find, proper investment-grade stuff, and Nick’s mission statement from the start was clear: to keep it all as original as possible, with any modifications 100% returnable to stock. It’s taken around a year to get the car to the point it’s at now, but he reckons it’d take under two hours to return it to factory-original… aside from the slightly rolled arches, although we can forgive that minor collateral damage as there was a clear plan in place for the suspension.

“This car was born to be dropped,” Nick grins. “It just looks so much better. I’m actually amazed that this isn’t more of a thing with DeLorean owners – there was one guy in Canada who did it in about 2010, but other than that I haven’t seen another.” The car was taken to Jonathan at Intermotiv to carry out Nick’s cunning plan; Jonathan described the underside of the car as ‘museum-quality’ as he was unbolting bits from it, which is probably your ideal scenario when you’re modding a car of this sort of age. “The kit I chose was a KNTRL system,” says Nick, “mainly because we’re the manufacturing partner with them, I make the cases for the controls and ECU, but also because it has a retro-cool look that really goes with the DeLorean. The gear was obviously not off-the-shelf and Jonathan had to do a lot of work to get the right bits to make the kit. The front shocks especially: these are very short, and the only ones we could find to fit were from a Morgan 3-Wheeler! He makes the bags from scratch, and the tank and management were fitted neatly in the front boot; a new floor was made up to keep the original one untouched.”

With the car sitting pretty, it was time to address the aesthetics. Nick was keen to keep the exterior largely standard because, well, why wouldn’t you? But there were one or two issues to address, not least the fact that Mother Nature had done her level best to turn that sublime wedge-shaped body into an entirely different shape altogether. “The body was bad, there were so many dents everywhere,” he recalls with a grimace. “I took the car to Chris at PJ Grady at the start of 2019 for a full body resto – he reckoned it must have been outside in a hailstorm, there were 252 golf ball-sized dents, 90 of them on the bonnet alone.” Painstaking work, as these bodies are notoriously tricky to fix, and the flawless results are testament to countless hours of extraordinarily careful tapping and, most probably, quite a lot of swearing too.

Now, there are number of talking points with this car when it rolls into a show: the very fact that it’s a DeLorean is a big one for starters, and there’s also the fact that it airs out like a rock star. But for many, the key hook here is the unusual wheels. Because they look sort of like the stock multi-spokes, but at the same time they’re about a billion times more awesome. So what on earth’s going on there?

The answer is that they’re fully custom – the only set in the whole world. “I wanted the wheels to look like a modern version of the originals,” reasons Nick. “I set about designing my own in CAD which were essentially a 3-piece split version of the originals; I didn’t want to make splits from the actual wheels for the same reason of making the car returnable to stock if need be. So I then sent the info to a few wheel manufacturers, and the only one willing to take on the job was Mario from RAD48 – he did a total redesign from my design to make them 100% road safe, and after a few months of back-and-forwarding with mods and tweaks we ended up with the final result. The design was then sent off to the factory where they make AMG wheels. I decided on a 16-inch front and 17-inch rear – 2-inches larger than the original, and an offset a whopping 70mm larger than stock on the rear when spaced (goodbye wheel bearings!) – and 35mm unspaced. I chose to space them as it meant that if I had to bring them in for any reason, such as driving abroad, I could just remove the spacers and eliminate any poke from the drive height.”

It’s fair to say that, in spite of being primarily a business asset, Nick’s sensible purchase isn’t exactly a number on a balance sheet. It’s a product of passion and excitement, and boundless creativity, and it’s rapidly becoming one of the family. He loves taking it out to shows so people can enjoy his other-worldly creation, and his eighteen-month-old daughter is a handy excuse to take her out in the DeLorean and give the missus a break (win-win, right?). “The thing about a DeLorean is that even if you’re not a car person, you love it,” Nick beams. “It turns heads everywhere I go; regardless of age or gender, they all look and smile! I do have problems on motorways as people hover alongside taking photos while I’m driving, and of course the real problem is fingerprints. Goddammit does it pick up fingerprints! I leave the car for half-an-hour at the show and it’s covered by the time I get back because people want to see if its bare metal or not!”

There’s one element, among many, that really differentiates this project, and that’s the fact that it’s essentially an air-and-wheels build, something sometimes frowned upon as ‘easy’ in the scene – although it’s pretty obvious that this is no ordinary OEM+. This is a custom in the traditional style, upgraded with ultra-modern methods. “This project took a year to essentially do bags and wheels, which some people regard as the problem with the modified car scene, but I feel that this one is different,” shrugs Nick. “So much work went into getting it to where it is. I’m proud of it.” As well he should be. This is one of the coolest cars on the scene today, there’s absolutely nothing else like it out there.

And look at that, we’ve managed to get through an entire DeLorean feature without mentioning that movie. References? Where we’re going, we don’t need references…

TECH SPEC: MODIFIED DELOREAN DMC-12

Styling:
Full body resto with steel re-brush

Tuning:
2.85-litre PRV V6, 5-speed manual

Chassis:
8x16in (front) and 10.5x17in (rear) one-of RAD48 DLR wheels, 195/40 (f) and 235/40 (r) Continental tyres, custom air-ride by Intermotiv: Stealth shocks and bags, KNTRL management, strengthened lower control arms

Interior:
Stock interior with Back to the Future props (inc. hoverboard with integrated Bluetooth speakers)

Thanks:
“Jonathan at Intermotiv, Mario at RAD48, Chris at PJ Grady, Peter at KNRTL, and my accountant.”

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