Thank You General Motors
Every 100 years the forces of good mysteriously weaken while Dracula's powers grow stronger. Similarly, every 5 years or so, the gas-charged struts on most DeLoreans weaken while gravity's power, uh, remains the same, resulting in unwanted droopiness.
The louvres over my engine wouldn't stay up any longer, after the gas struts gave up the ghost this summer. At the DeLorean 25th Anniversary show in Chicago, I purchased a new set from DeLorean Motor Center. It was a super deal, and I avoided shipping charges by bringing them over the border myself.
At home I started the strut-swapping process. I braced the louvres with some stuff I had lying around the garage.
I slid a flat-head screwdriver under the metal retaining clip and pried it outwards. I gave the old strut a yank and it popped off with a little effort. The louvres dropped on the one side so I speedily propped up them up with my head. This was important business as my louvres, amazingly, aren't cracked. Having un-cracked louvres is practically impossible, except on the Concours-calibre DeLoreans which are meticulously cared for and guarded with ferocity.
According to Don Steger, owner of DeLorean Motor Center in California, every DeLorean's louvres have cracked at some point, which is why a louvre brace was developed. When I told Don that mine were not cracked, he simply didn't believe me. But I'll gladly take looks of disbelief from DeLorean experts over having cracked louvres.
Using the flat-head screwdriver I popped the second strut socket off as well. Once the socket popped off, the ball was exposed. My balls were really dry, so it was a good thing the new struts came fully lubed. The new struts snapped easily on and looked really great as they were a little thicker, beefier and juicier than the old ones.
Everything looked good, but it was completely naive of me to expect perfection. I was completely shocked when I tried to open the engine cover only to have it bang into the louvres. The new Stabilus struts were too short! I couldn't lift the engine cover high enough to lock it into place.
My old struts, at 18 inches from centre to centre, were almost exactly one inch longer than the new struts. I phoned Don at D.M.C. and told him of my woes. He agreed to refund my money and I ordered a new set from P.J. Grady in New York. I nearly had an aneurism when I discovered that they, too, were 1 inch too short.
Since both Don and Rob deal exclusively with DeLoreans as their livelihood, I came to the brilliant conclusion that my DeLorean must have been modified. The original owner, upon the demise of the DeLorean Motor Company, must have feared parts would become unavailable. Logically, he had custom strut mounts created using struts from a more modern vehicle - one that would likely be in production for years.
Canadian Tire blew my mind when they found a replacement for my old struts. A hearty Martini-thank you to the 1989-1994 GMC Jimmy & Chevy Blazer.