Randal W. BrownThe relationship between the DeLorean car and its owner is always interesting and colorful. My story has no dearth of twists and turns itself. Read on and enjoy!
My first opportunity to see the DeLorean up close and personal was October 1981 in Stillwater Minnesota. The car was parked across the street from the Lowell Inn , a very upscale establishment. I must say that I spent the better part of two hours admiring the unique angular lines that the car is famous for. While walking away from the car I vowed that some day I would own a DeLorean. During that period of my life I was working as a musician/artist chasing the elusive recording contract that would provide me the riches to purchase a fleet of DeLorean’s. We all know this type of story! In other words I was broke, living in an apartment spending all my funds on musical equipment and driving a step van… (Yes a step van, a big ugly blue monster that could move a household or in my case a rock band!).
Moving forward to 1987, even though I realized some strong regional notoriety that had me doing TV commercials for the Ford Motor Company, writing and performing musical compositions for simulcast (TV & FM radio) I was still in an apartment and driving a step van. Through a chameleon type change I traded the spandex for a suit and the step van for a company car and began working for 3M.
My early tenure at 3M started in Minnesota then New York City and on to Washington DC where my DeLorean story gets revived. Through all my personal changes between 1981 and now 1990 there was a constant, the elusive DeLorean. “Back To The Future” in its various parts was strong during this time, while thinking of it as a novel movie it did not add any fuel to my desire of ownership. The true catalyst in securing my car was my Dad (and best friend) as he was more than aware on my long interest.
There are many father son bonding stories centering around cars that I could go into but the point here is the unspoken trust that is built by working side by side restoring cars and watching your son destroy them!
So, in 1990 I was living in Washington DC and working for 3M. Got a call from Dad who was retired and living in New Bern NC saying there was a DeLorean listed in Hemming’s located in Raleigh NC did I want him to drive the 4 hours and take a look at it. My response was “sure” and just incase I will wire some money! We agreed on a time when he would be at the “Jaguar” dealership where the DeLorean was for me to call. The only problem was I would be driving between DC and New York on business. Just past the Delaware Memorial Bridge in New Jersey is a bank on pay phones that on a cold November day I placed the call. Upon inspection of the DeLorean by Dad it was determined that the car needed only some TLC in the form of struts, headliner, braided stainless clutch line etc. After some long distance negotiation over the phone a deal was struck… I was now a DeLorean owner. A DeLorean that I had not even seen!
Later in November after making some arrangements to retrieve the car from Raleigh Dad was on his way to drive the 4 hour round trip and would call me upon his arrival home. This was a very long time period indeed. As the hours ticked by my anticipation grew to a point of unmanageable stress as I considered my drained bank account and what could happen between Raleigh and New Bern. Finally the call came in – collect I might add leaving me to think that Dad was broken down some were in route. The worst of my thoughts rang true when after accepting the collect charges Dad said “Kid you have a BIG problem with the car”. Stunned, drained and totally frustrated belong belief I asked what do you mean? Only to receive the restatement that I had already been told “Kid you have a BIG problem with the car” I was speechless….. After a long pause I said what is the problem with the DeLorean. Another long pause eschewed, Dad finally said…”nothing I want to keep it for myself!” I had just been played by a master at pushing my most vulnerable button that he could at that moment!
Seeing that it was now mid November the plan was that I would fly down to New Bern over Thanksgiving and drive the car back to DC for a shake down period and drive the car back for Christmas. I instantly booked my flights and waited for the day that I would meet my DeLorean up close. Included with the purchase was a complete technical manual that I think Dad read cover to cover, as I would receive calls from Dad sharing his latest enlightenment about the car…. Again pushing my buttons through an underlying tone of I have the car and know more about it than you do! Again if this wasn’t bad enough he would always answer any question that I had on the car with “you will have to wait and see”
OK – I arrived in New Bern and upon seeing Dad he gave me a big hug and presented me with a key ring, which was a large coin and a DeLorean key. On close inspection, imprinted into the coin was a “round to it”, in other words after all the dreaming I had finally gotten “around to it” and purchased a DeLorean. Having packed light Dad drove the DeLorean to the airport for me to drive back to my parents. Remember this was the first time that I would see the car after I purchased its 3 weeks earlier and Dad would not answer any of my questions about the car directly, but would simply tell me about its features and how he wanted to “keep it for himself”. Imagine my surprise when I opened the drivers door and reviewed the vin number of #5501 built in October 1981, the same year and month that I first laid me eyes on a DeLorean in Stillwater Mn. 9 years earlier.
Proud new owner - November 1990
Fast forward to the present. After leaving DC in 1993 (as a newly wed) and moving to St. Paul by 3M for a 6 year tenure in marketing the DeLorean spent the most of its time in storage as the winters are just to rough on any car. Then in 1999 after leaving Minnesota (now with 2 young daughters – yes the winters are cold indeed!) I landed in Phoenix AZ still with 3M. Over the most recent 2 years #5501 has blossomed. My fellow DeLorean club members have some times been known to say that I have the only 2004 model DeLorean, due to the fact that I have replaced most everything mechanical on the car.
Regarding the choice of license my plate “DOC BRN”, as I mentioned I am not a huge fan of “Back To The Future” but acknowledge the momentum that the DeLorean has gained from the films. Yes, I too get tired of being asked, “Where is your flux capacitor” and the like. But I do relate with Doc Browns outside the box thinking and eccentric nature as this can be said about me and with the last name of Brown… well there you have it!
My involvement with the AZ-D is one of my major high points about living here in Arizona. Yes I still use my musical talents and enjoy watching my offspring’s ability beginning to take hold. (See updated photo below of my current set up at CCV (Christ’s Church Of The Valley, a Mega Church serving over 10,000 + each weekend!)
Lastly, as you might have gathered my Dad was a very important person in my life. Unfortunately in September of 1999 he passed away. The authoring of my DeLorean bio was very bittersweet for me as reflected in the story he was the catalyst of my DeLorean ownership and my best friend.
You can always wish for more but cherish what you have had!
November 1990 - “Dad” Ray E. Brown and “His Car”...
Randal - still using his talents.