As a record producer he made some of the biggest hits of the 1970s, now lifelong petrolhead Phil Wainman has gone back to the future to regenerate a classic DeLorean sports car – as an all-electric vehicle!
The iconic DMC DeLorean PRV V6, the same model as the star of the 1985 blockbuster movie Back to the Future, has been reborn for the 21st century as a zero-emission electric dream machine.
“In the film the DeLorean travelled through time and should have come back as an electric car – it’s 30 years overdue but now it has!” says Phil.
“Cars have been my passion for as long as I can remember and I just wanted to see what would happen if a classic sports car was converted to electric so I’m absolutely thrilled it’s one of those revolutionary ideas that actually works.”
The discovery took him right back to the moments of inspiration in the recording studio that made him one of the most successful and in-demand producers of the 1970s, creating a string of chart topping hits for the likes of The Sweet, Bay City Rollers and The Boomtown Rats before running the Utopia media complex.
“I’m amazed with the result. The original DeLorean looked great but was heavy, underpowered and not a lot of fun to drive. Now, forty years after it first went into production, the electric DeLorean is the car it always appeared to be.
“I was an early adopter of electric vehicles and joined the Electric Car Association back in the 1980s. If the UK is to be carbon neutral by 2050 the only way we can keep classics like this on the road is for them to be electric.”
As happy under the bonnet as he is behind the wheel, Phil bought the car in the United States, had it shipped back to the UK and approached Castleman Auto Repairs in Poole, Dorset to help him realise his dream. Their first job was to restore the original stainless steel finish.
“It had been painted red, which happened a lot in the States. Clint Townsend and the guys at Castleman keep my collection of petrol cars on the road, so I know they are the best. They can do anything, but even they took a sharp intake of breath when I told them what I wanted to do so I said: ‘Come on, let’s learn how to do it together’ and piece-by-piece we did it.”
Phil is the first to admit the secret of his hit records was often down to trial and error – and it has been a similar story with the DeLorean. For instance, the car is fitted with twin radiators in the front, but fixing the cooling flow for the electric motor and other components required endless experimentation.
The electric motor, batteries and control systems are all from Tesla and Castleman made new mounts and brackets in order to fit the gear to the DeLorean with the batteries split and stowed in the back and the front. New software has been designed for the dash display and there’s even a sampled voice built in that proclaims ‘Great Scott’ – a catchphrase used by Christopher Lloyd’s character Doc in Back to the Future – as the car hits 88 mph, the speed at which the DeLorean travelled through time in the film.
Phil designed and built the decidedly lo-tech gear selector himself using a piece of nylon drainpipe with machined nylon arms and a chrome crossbar.
“It’s perfect, everyone loves it,” says Phil. “They think it comes from a motor boat and are shocked when I tell them I made in my shed.
“I’ve always worked that way – the only rule is there are no rules. When I was making records I would try things, some worked some didn’t, but when they worked, that’s when the magic happened. You should have heard ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ by The Sweet before we added the drum intro and we played with echo in a way that had never been done before to add some fairy dust to ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’; I’ll try anything if I think it might work.”
With the DeLorean now finished and ready for sale there’s a second one ready to follow, but Phil’s next classic motor regeneration is arguably the most classic of all British sports models – the E-Type Jaguar.
“It’ll be the world’s first E-Type E… and I can’t wait to get it going!”