Chris Parnham writes about gold plated DeLoreans, the plating process and strange logistics.
Someone had the bright idea that as there might be a demand for a “top end” Special edition DeLorean. How could they make a standard production car a bit special? Well, gold plate it of course! As all the panels just bolted on, it shouldn’t be much of a job! Try telling that to Stewart Craven, the senior buyer who was given the job in May 81.
(Having earned my living as an “electro-plater” of car parts, for the last 30 years, I have some sympathy for the British firms that were contacted by Stewart……they all declined to become involved, partly because stainless steel is difficult metal to plate, but mainly because of the relatively HUGE tanks that would be required.). Eventually “Degussa” a German electro-plating company agreed to help out. It was decided that would need to construct special tanks to accommodate the doors and bonnet, containing 2,500 litres; full of VERY expensive “AURUNA 311” Gold plating solution.
28/8/81 Two orders were received for the “AmEx gold cars”
14/9/81 Three sets of panels were delivered to Degussa.
15/9/81, Stewart Craven, L Nelson, G Fraser arrived on the 09.05 flight from Birmingham to oversee the process.
16/9/81 Gold plating commenced under the supervision of Degussa staff, at the” premises of “K Holder”.
19/9/81 Gold plating completed, packed ready to transport to Belfast. The trip back home was not straightforward:-
The plant manager then said they should all have a drink as they were here for the weekend, the DeLorean staff said “no were off, the cars have to built up on Monday”. The manager said “you can’t, its Sunday, you cannot truck through Germany on a Sunday”. Stuart replied “Yes we can”….”No you can’t replied the manager, it’s illegal”. “Have you looked outside said Stewart? See the truck we have, it’s a refrigerated one, normally used for fresh food, the only commercial vehicle that can legally drive on Sunday!” The two drivers were told, you don’t stop for anybody! They arrived on Monday morning in Belfast!
12/10/81 The first Gold car delivered to its a customer, The Snyder Bank in Texas, who had a grand opening on the 3 days later as the car was eased into a armoured glass case in the reception area. ( it was there until 2009 )
In 2004 one of our Club Members Andrew Westerman, drove his DeLorean (later known as the Patrick Kielty car) right across America and made a point of visiting the Snyder bank in Texas. Unfortunately he was a little delayed, ( see speeding fine) but the bank staff kept the stayed open for him. They made a right fuss of him let him have access to the Gold car. Later the staff took it in turns to ride in his car, saying “this is the first time we have seen a “silver” DeLorean!
The car has since been moved from the Snyder National bank to LA, where it currently resides in the Petersen Automotive Museum.
The other Gold car is in the Crawford Motor Museum (photo’s care of Robert Rooney)
The last car assembled in Dunmurry in 1983, was sent to America where the 3rd set of Gold Panels were attached. See picture of brown interior. Along with the last few cars being finished off, ready for the May 1984 Auction.