The Shea family has had a life long interest in automobiles which goes back a few generations. The love affair has continued to blossom with those of us who are still driving. My son Patrick and I (Bill) are the prime movers behind the DeLorean restoration and conversion but the seeds were planted many years ago.
As a pre-teen, I had two paper routes at the same time and would often marvel at those magnificent machines sitting in the driveways or protected by one-car garages. I would peek inside those behemoths and marvel at that endless, shiny chrome as I made my way around my route.
I couldn't wait to get my hands on my very own set of wheels. I started my first official job on my 16th birthday on the 30th of June, 1961 making a whopping $1 per hour pumping gas at a Sunoco station in Worcester, Massachusetts. On that very same day I purchased my first car.....a 1937 Ford two door sedan with running boards. It had it's original flat head eight cylinder with the more powerful 85 horsepower motor. I gave the fellow $60 for it and paid him $5 per week until it was paid off. There were many other vehicles, including a 1933 Plymouth, shown on the right with Patrick in 1978.
I had a lot of fun with that Ford and could write a book about it and the subsequent 100 or so cars I've owned since then. I'd sure love to have many of them back now as they included Packards, Corvettes, a Ford Skyliner, Dodge Chargers, oh and a few station wagons and mini-vans in-between.
In the "good olde days", it was customary to put your "real car" away for the New England winters and buy a clunker as a winter machine. I can remember buying at least five of these and never paying more than $50 for them. I'd kick the crap out of them all winter while my true love would be safely tucked away and then I would sell the "beast" in the Spring or, in a few cases, give it the coup de grâce.
Patrick certainly has inherited the automotive DNA and has taken this passion to an even higher level. There is hardly an automobile that has been produced in the past 30 years that he cannot identify and describe in accurate detail. Our business takes us on the road occasionally and Patrick will go on for hours identifying models and years of cars just by their tail light configuration. You might not think that's such a feat but try doing it at night just by the illumination of those tail lights! Our vehicular interests are quite diverse as we currently have the three DeLoreans, a totally restored 1958 Corvette as well as three motorcycles that all belonged to Steve McQueen.
Another car in the "fleet" is a very special 1991 SSP (Special Service Package) Florida Highway Patrol Mustang that has been restored to it's "in service" condition.
We mention this not for bragging rights but to reinforce the commitment (some would use other terms such as addiction or obsession) to restoring and preserving our fascination with two and four wheel "babes".
But what about our love affair with the ill-fated DeLorean. At the time the car arrived in the USA in the Spring of 1981, there were no DeLorean dealerships. John Z. DeLorean had dreamed of having 400 dealerships nationwide but this never happened. Therefore, other car retailers opened franchises and that was where I spied my first example. Bancroft Motors in Worcester, MA opened a franchise and put up that huge silver DeLorean neon sign over the door. It just so happened I worked directly across the street from this entrance and the entrapment began. I was currently working on another car project at the time....
....our 1958 Corvette, so I was staying pretty busy. Click here to see more photos pertaining to the Corvette restoration. I purchased this, ahem, beauty in 1980 from my pal Rich Green (R.I.P. my friend!) and the restoration took place over the next year or so. I did much of the work needed, but I relied on Jim Derzius of Jim's Auto Body right here in our hometown of Hubbardston to tackle the body and paint work. All of the "in progress" pictures are taken at his shop. Additional work has since been performed by our good friend Ron Bunnell of Ron's Auto Restoration in Fitchburg, MA (www.ronsautorestoration.com). He and his team are excellent and we recommend them highly. This included a repaint in 1998 and a full mechanical restoration in 2008.
Back to 1982, we were ready to hit the show circuit. Our first show came in July of that year and it was held at Whalom Park in Lunenburg, MA. Man, I can remember how nervous we were! Anxiety was high, and this was enhanced when the first thing we spotted was our competition cleaning his tire treads with Armor All. We thought we were in way over our heads. But lo and behold, here are the results of our efforts......our first show netted a first place trophy! The picture on the right shows the Corvette in a ferry on it's way to Martha's Vineyard, MA for a big show in 1984. This is where Bill and Donna met the one and only Zora Arkus Duntov!
So....back to the DeLorean. As much as I pined over this car, the $25,000.00 (approximately $60,000.00 in 2011 dollars!) was just slightly out of my price range. Especially when you consider that a brand new, loaded 1981 Corvette was listed at around $18,000.00. That didn't prevent me from occasionally strolling over to the dealership and looking at this "eye candy". Window shopping was all I could do at that time.
Fast forward to 1995, and a very good friend of mine by the name of Kevin Bourgeios offered me his 1981 DeLorean for a very reasonable price. By this time, DMC was long gone, the scandals had taken place and the car had attained a cult status as one of the favorite cars in all movie history. The DeLorean time machine consistently scores in the top three. The Batmobile and the 1964 Aston Martin DB-5 (sexy!) driven by James Bond in Goldfinger are the only two that seem more popular. A deal was struck so Patrick and I, along with Patrick's seven year old son Branden, journeyed up to Manchester, N.H. to pick up the car.
On the way home Branden kept saying to me "Grampa, everybody keeps looking at us." I told him that it was the car they were looking at, not necessarily us , although maybe it was us!. It was a defining moment in our DeLorean saga as I knew this car held a place of significant appeal in the hearts of all people, regardless of their age.
That feeling certainly did not change over the past two decades, as everywhere we drove the car and at every show attended, we were greeted by enthusiastic crowds of fans who were thrilled to see their very first DeLorean motor car. The totally original, stock version turned countless heads and engendered numerous questions which we were more than happy to answer.
Patrick’s obsession with vehicles started very early on and he has always loved to work on, repair, restore and tinker. Many of his jobs have been in and around the automotive industry. It would be fair to say that it was in his DNA and obviously “in his blood". That has trickled down to the next generation as Branden now works in the automotive field and can give the old man a run for his money when it comes to makes, models, wheels and accessories with the myriad of cars on the road these days.
In spite of the relatively short show season here in the Northeast, we enjoy going to different car shows and cruising nights. We’ll be sure to list, photograph, and describe some of the events we attend in that section of the website.