- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2010

Along about the summer of 2004 Wyatt Rinker started shopping for an old car. “I was looking around for a toy,” he says. “I like doing mechanical work but not cosmetics,” he adds.

Working within those perimeters, Mr. Rinker found the perfect car for himself near Pittsburgh - a stainless steel bodied 1981 DeLorean.

“I don’t worry about rust,” he says, “and I don’t worry about paint.”

The car he found was manufactured in October 1981, the first year of DeLorean production. The first owner reportedly kept the car 10 years. The car spent the next dozen years in a museum before it was sold to a man near Pittsburgh who spent two years bringing the car back to roadable condition.

Mr. Rinker entered the picture in February 2005 when he bought the car, which had been driven only about 21,000 miles, off the Internet. The DeLorean was virtually bone stock Mr. Rinker reports. He arranged to have a car mover meet him where the DeLorean was garaged. He didn’t know a late blizzard would also meet them. All of the parties managed to drive through the snow, the deal was consummated and the car was loaded on the truck.

Mr. Rinker then had to race home to Dunkirk, Md., to shovel snow off his driveway - preparatory to the arrival of his DeLorean. Soon thereafter, Mr. Rinker was under the car cleaning off road salt because, he explains, “This is my baby.”

During the three years of DeLorean production near Belfast, the total number of cars barely exceeded 9,000. Each DeLorean was 13-feet, two-inches long and stood almost 45 inches high. At 73 inches wide, the car was more than 2.5 feet wider than its height.

The 15-inch rear tires not only have a larger diameter than the 14-inch front tires but are also wider. The sleek car, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Turin, Italy, rides on a 95-inch wheelbase.

Standard equipment on the DeLorean, which had a base price of $26,175 when new, includes:

c Dual electric remote side view mirrors.

c Power assisted 4-wheel disc brakes.

c Goodyear steel belted radial tires.

c Rear mounted 174-cid OHC V-6.

c Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injectors.

c Five speed manual transmission.

c Tilt/Telescopic steering wheel.

c Electric rear window defogger.

c Rear mounted power antenna.

c AM/FM stereo with cassette.

c Central door locking system.

c Cast light-alloy wheels.

c Electric tachometer.

c Power windows.

c Air conditioner.

The 2.8-liter V-6 engine was a collaborative effort by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo. Mounted in the rear, the 130 horsepower engine pushes the 3,180-pound car. With the original restrictive exhaust system replaced with a free-flowing unit, Mr. Rinker reports highway gas mileage of up to 32 mpg. He says in normal driving he averages about 23 mpg.

Mr. Rinker strives to maintain his DeLorean in the condition it was when it left the factory. However, if he can make the car more reliable or safer he will go in that direction.

The low, wide automobile is built atop a deep spine backbone chassis and handles superbly, Mr. Rinker says. “It has a suspension designed by Lotus,” he explains.

“The DeLorean is dependable,” Mr. Rinker says and it’s fun to drive. Parts for it are surprisingly easy to obtain.

All DeLoreans are probably best known for the role the car played in the “Back to the Future” movies where the car was equipped with a “fluxcapacitor” enabling the car, once it reached the magic speed of 88 mph, to travel in time. Unlike the car in the movies, Mr. Rinker’s DeLorean is not equipped with plutonium in a nuclear reaction to generate 1.21 gigawatts of power. Mr. Rinker has been known to dress like Doc Brown, the character in the movies, when he takes his car to parades or public events.

The odometer on Mr. Rinker’s DeLorean has now recorded about 30,000 miles. Some of them have been accumulated on fair-weather days when he drives to work at Goddard space center in Greenbelt where he is a supervisor engineer.

On even numbered years, DeLorean owners gather. Mr. Rinker drove to the 2006 meeting in Chicago and intends to drive his DeLorean to the June 2008 gathering in Gettysburg.

“The car draws a crowd every time I stop for gas,” he says. People aren’t used to a car with the engine in the rear and the owner pumping gas into the tank located under the front hood.

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