Pilot 20 arrived on the 7th of September 2007. The car was purchased from Sascha Skucek, who has maintained the car over the last few years and thankfully kept all of the original parts for the car. Sascha himself purchased the car from Jim Bates – who has been the keeper of the car since it was auctioned off by Olsen Engineering in 1985.
Pilot 20 was one of three pilot cars sent to Olsen Engineering, along with some early VIN production cars – to undergo emissions testing accreditation. The cars passed all of the emissions tests needed to get the DMC-12 approved for the US market – but within a couple of years, DMC was winding up – and Olsen auctioned off their test DeLoreans to raise some capital. Pilot 20 was maintained very well over the years, both by Jim and later by Sascha – and has been well looked after by most of the US vendors including Rob Grady, Ed Bernstein, Stephen Wynne and Don Steger. We’re very proud to be able to add our own name to that impressive list.
Sascha tells us that even John DeLorean himself sat in this car and complemented it – which is the biggest accolade any DeLorean owner could wish for. In 2005, Sascha took the car across country to attend John DeLoreans wake – a mark of respect for the man, in one of the first cars that started the dream.
PJ Grady Europe purchased Pilot 20 from Sascha in early 2007. We were very pleased to see that Sascha had done a sterling job in retaining all of the original preproduction parts – and had kept the car true to itself. We intend to continue that tradition – and spare no expense along the way.
It is our mission to restore the car to how she was intended to look over 25 years ago. In the following pages you will see the car go from a black painted car through a full stainless steel restoration, then onto the complete exterior. The next phase will be to finish the interior. Then last off all we will conduct a frame off restoration – but that comes later.
The first panel to be worked on was the right front fender. We chose this as we were hoping to find a sticker showing P20 (like we did on VIN502 or VIN530). Unfortunately there were no identifying marks on the body, so we set about paint stripping the fender and hood.
You can also see that the front of the right front fender has a blue paint mark. This is actually a way to identify the car through its parts. It was our intention to acid dip the panels to remove the paint from the car, however because of this we decided that paint stripping by hand would be the best way to go for the simple fact that you can control what paint you strip.
The blue paint markings are throughout the car – and it appears that Lotus was using the paint markings to identify which parts belonged with which cars. There was also some reuse amongst cars – as Pilot 20 has some yellow and orange paint marks too – on some of the panels. In this picture you can see the stainless steel damage to the right front fender. The lower lip of the wheel arch is bent and twisted round. No writing was found on this panel.
The next panel to be worked on was the hood. In this picture you can see the hood after paint stripping. Notice the angle grinder marks and how deep they are? This took time to remove. The grinder marks were done just prior to painting the car black – the scratching gives a ‘key’ for the paint to bond to.
The next panel was the left front fender. As you can see in the photographs, the side marker lights are set all the way forward, and the holes in the stainless have been cut out as opposed to being stamped out like on a stock DeLorean.
The tops of the front fenders are also of a different design. On stock fenders, M5 bolts hold down the panel along the top side in depressed holes, whereas on P20 there are drilled holes which are M4. Also notice the writing on the back of the panel - ‘5 L/H'.
Once the front end had been stripped down it was time to move onto the rear of the car. We next pulled the T-panel roof. This proved to be tricky as we discovered we had to half remove the quarter panels first, as the roof sits under the quarters! This is a completely different design to stock.
This picture below shows the welds that help form the panel. All of the stainless steel panels have them. You can clearly see how these were crafted panels – before the factory started mass production.
In the lower pictures you can see some of the 'Naked body' Most of the brackets on the front and rear end are made out of very light fibreglass, or plastic materials. Clearly if this car was to have been crash tested, most of the panels would have flown of the car!
In the above pictures you might just be able to make out the wheel arches. These are actually made from a door sign! You can just about make out the lettering “PUSH OPEN”.
The picture and above shows the front amber light. Notice the stickers! They’re a bit tricky to read – but they say “SAMPLE – NOT FOR PHOTOMETRIC ASSESSMENT” and “FOR PROTOTYPE USE ONLY”.
This is a picture of the door trim which we have removed; notice how it differs in internal design than stock. It’s the same with the internal door linkage, all of the parts for the door release have been hand made.
Notice in the above pictures how the dash, and side ends are a one piece design.
In the above image you can see we are currently working on the interior as well as the body.
Here is a picture of the VIN tag in the front windscreen. The engine bay has at least three of these as well!
In these pictures you can clearly set this car apart as a pilot. The internal structure of the front end is completely different than stock. Notice the hood catch!
Alongside the bodywork restoration, we also started to look at the interior to see what we could do to get it back to its original condition.
The car had suffered some interior damage during shipping (someone decided to steal the CD player and damage the centre console in the process). There were also a couple of modifications to the interior that an earlier owner (not Sascha) had carried out - namely a cruise control module and a 'Delorean' badge screwed into the knee pad.
The interior of the car is very unique - mostly handmade - but there were a few things that we could see didn't match - or we weren't sure about. So we got in touch with Nick Fulcher.
For anyone who doesn't know of Nick, he's a top class coach trimmer who is responsible for designing interiors a number for a number of famous cars, including the original Lotus Esprit S1, the prototype DeLoreans - and even royalty!
Nick also carried out all of the interior work for the Visioneering DeLorean, which was displayed at the NADA show in 1980.
Amusingly, Nick delayed some work on one of the cars belonging to the Royal family in order to get Pilot 20 work done first ahead of a show in November. He'll probably be locked up for treason - but Pilot 20 interior will look nice!
Nick actually trimmed Pilot 20 originally back in 1980 - so it was interesting for him to see his own work - and highlight bits that had been added by others over the years.
We asked Nick to fix the centre console as his main priority - and to recover the kneepad. We also asked about the seats - as one was a prototype seat - the other seemed to be a stock seat - with a Pilot back.
The reason for this was whilst testing Pilot 8 in Scotland - the Lotus drivers were throwing the car into corners and sliding around in the seat. The car came back to Nick to see if anything could be done - and an alternative seat squab was used to develop what we see as a prototype seat - designed to hold the driver in place a bit more than the original design.
Pilot 20 arrived with a driver’s prototype seat - which fits with Nicks account -as the design was only being tested by a driver - not a passenger.
We asked Nick if he could convert the passenger seat to match - and amazingly, he produced the last prototype squab left after over 27 years of sitting on his shelf! Although the car technically may/may not have had two prototype seats - we decided to make the switch to get a matching set - as per the Visioneering car.
The company that manufactured the squab went out of business after DMC went bust - they had built their business around the large volumes of promised sales - that ultimately never materialised.
Nick also showed us the sewing machines he originally used for trimming the interiors of the prototype cars - as shown below.
In these pictures you can see the stripped centre console -and the damage it suffered, from having the CD player stolen at the docks for shipping! The foam has been stripped back by us, and some adhesive put in place to keep some shape to allow Nick to reform the piece. The second picture shows how Nick has riveted the pieces back together.
The pictures also show the corner of the console being re-fibre glassed and recovered with a sponge underlay.
And also show the centre console being recovered with the correct material - as originally used 27 years ago.
These pictures show the centre console recovered (but missing the gear shift panel and gaiter still to be completed.
Nick and Steve also recovered the knee pad - which a previous owner had fitted a 'Delorean' badge too - screwing through the material. It looked OK, but wasn't original - so had to go. You can see Nick's finishing is second to none.
Lastly - Nick set about converting our production like passenger seat into a matching prototype seat - using the last remaining prototype squab.
In these pictures above - you can see Nick stripping the passenger seat to the under foam - and then removing that to see the production seat squab. Note how the wiring of the production squab goes all the way up.
You can see the prototype squab in place - and the under foam padding fitted. Note how the wiring of the prototype squab goes only halfway up - this being the main visible difference between the prototype and production seats.
Whilst Nick was busy with the interior - Chris Nicholson was busy worrying about the exterior. The stainless steel was terrible - and the earlier owner who had selected to paint the car black was correct and fully justified. To pay for this stainless to be done at vendor rates would have been astronomical - and nobody else would have taken this work on. But Chris loves a challenge.
The pictures above give you some idea of just how trashed the hood was. Much of the marking is where the stainless was scored in order to create a key for the paint to bond to. The real problem was the front left side of the hood, which had been severely depressed - and had been masked by lots and lots of bondo. The hood (as with the rest of the stainless) is a thinner gauge than production - and in dents as severe as this - the metal tends to 'oil can'.
The rest of the bodywork was starting to take shape though.
Although Chris was making some great progress with the hood - as you can see in the picture however the right rear quarter panel has so many ripples it was unbelievable!
At the same time, we were also looking at repainting the bumpers from black to whatever colour they were meant to be. So, we stripped the bumpers and carefully sanded down through the layers - until we hit....green paint! We had this matched up perfectly by a local specialist - but when we applied it in a test area - it just didn't look right.
So we sanded down a bit further - and hit upon a greyish blue paint - in exactly the same tone as the Visioneering car. So, with a small collection of green paint no longer needed - we took the fascia back to the paint shop and had the new colour re-matched. Then the bumpers were prepped for painting.
The fascia was later given its first coats of the main colour. And, a prototype skirt was fitted. This was damaged and had to be re-fibre glassed and screwed into place -as there are no bolt holes for this piece! After Weeks of work we finally completed the body just in time for the NEC for the to be pride of the Delorean stand.