An Electric Conversion Turns a DeLorean Into the Car That It Should Have Been
To give the DeLorean the glory it deserved, Jacob Graham replaced the pathetic 6-cylinder 130hp engine with a powerplant from a Nissan Leaf.
We’re long past the days when the idea of an electric car conjured mental images of lame econoboxes chugging along pathetically in the slow lane. Today’s electric cars outperform their dinosaur bone-burning brethren across a number of metrics, which is enough to gain acceptance from even the most diehard petrolheads. So it’s no surprise that backyard mechanics have started building electric vehicles and performing electric conversions. With a decent budget and the right know-how, a skilled builder can dramatically improve a car’s performance with an electric conversion. That was certainly the case with this electric DeLorean DMC-12.
The DeLorean DMC-12 is one of the infamous failures in automotive history. It was touted as a futuristic sports car, but it was woefully underpowered with a six-cylinder engine that produced a mere 130hp; there was a reason it was such a challenge for the car to reach 88mph in Back to the Future. Combined with scandal surrounding creator John DeLorean, the car never had a chance. But it still had a those iconic gull wings doors, an eye-catching unpainted stainless steel body, and the Back to the Future connection, making even the worst examples today collector’s items. A few years back, Jacob Graham and friend Jim Belosic, the builder of the Teslonda, purchased a DeLorean DMC-12. Some effort was put into restoration, including two rounds of fumigation to rid the car of a black widow infestation, but eventually the project was abandoned.
Fortunately, it didn’t stay abandoned. Graham decided to dust off the DeLorean in order to perform an electric conversion based around the powerplant from a Nissan Leaf. The Leaf isn’t exactly known for its power, but Graham was able to squeeze approximately 200hp out of the motor — significantly more than the original engine. Presumably, it also has a far better torque curve. Even with all of the heavy batteries, which provide enough juice for about 90 miles of range, the electrified DeLorean weighs less than an original unmodified example. Combined with an improved suspension, this DeLorean performs far better than it did when stock. Graham even built a custom Android-based monitor that pulls data from the electric system via an Arduino. Even after this conversion, the DeLorean still isn’t particularly fast by modern standards. But it is does a good job of bringing the car up to the standards that were promised by John DeLorean in the ‘80s.