Stephen Wynne - The Man Behind The Electric DeLorean: Q&A

on October 30 2011 11:36 AM
Stephen Wynne
Stephen Wynne, who spent the better part of his life fixing DeLorean sports car, plans to sell electric versions of the car by 2013. DeLorean Motor Company

The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

The famous question asked in Back to the Future (1985) by Dr. Emmet Brown has been, well, reinterpreted by Stephen Wynne. The way the 55-year-old Briton sees it, if you're gonna own an electric car, why not... make it a DeLorean DMC-12?

The three-decade old car company is getting revamped, with electric motors replacing their internal combustion engines, as well as an interior modernization in the works.

Wynne bought the DeLorean Motor Company in 1995 and has spent years restoring, repairing and improving existing DMC-12's with original and improved parts.

DeLorean: A Unique Shape

The boxy but futuristic car, with its stainless steel shell and angular body, became the object of adoration for a generation of pre-pubescent boys. Posters of it straddled bedroom walls alongside tapes of Molly Ringwald movies.

Those boys are now gentlemen well into their 30s or even 40s, having consumed copious amounts of Marty McFly's adventures in the three decades since.

The green, time-traveling (not really) machines will roll out in about a year as either new assemblies or conversions of current cars. Wynne said the electric version will manage to outshine the original in performance. He took a moment to talk about jammed doors, quiet driving and managing to get something named Flux into the car.

Q: How did you end up getting involved with DeLoreans?

I'm an English and French car mechanic by trade. I came to [the] states in 1980. DeLoreans came about and they were English and French, so I just started working on them. I got a reputation, got to be very busy.

Q: Was it a good car from the get-go?

With the very, very early cars, there were just assembly quality control issues, which the factory got their act together and fixed very quickly. The original specifications for alternators were not good enough. The electronics had a lot of issues. The doors were prone to jamming and jamming people in the car.

Q: Did you ever talk to John DeLorean about your plans?

I'm not sure if we talked about the electric side of it, but the remanufacturing of the cars was something we discussed before he passed away. I asked for words of wisdom or advice from him. Unfortunately he never made it down to Texas to see what we're doing.

Q: Why switch to electric?

I've always been a fan of electric cars. I actually worked as a service manager at a Renault dealer in Boston. A nearby company was converting Renault cars to electric. I really got the bug then. I moved on in life. Then when Tesla announced the roadster and I've seen what they've been able to achieve to with that car... Tesla is basically a Lotus and if they can do that with a Lotus, I can do that as well.

Q: How has the work with [electric drivetrain maker] Epic EV gone?

They developed the whole system for us. They have their own battery company. Their battery division is Flux Batteries, which is really appropriate when you think about it. They make a lithium ion phosphate battery, which is a nice, safe battery. They were able to develop the prototype drivetrain. We basically set out to prove that it can be done.

Q: The car itself has its own connotations for a generation. Was preserving that important?

Very! All of our plans presently for what we're doing call for leaving the exterior silhouette of the car completely stock. That's what people know.

Q: But a quiet DeLorean?

I'm a car guy. I love hearing engines winding out. But driving with the windows open, having performance and hearing the sounds of nature, it's completely different. Better, actually. I've been hearing noises I've never heard before.

Q: Any interest by anyone involved in Back To The Future? Michael J. Fox, producers, etc.?

Not yet.

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