by Mike –
Michael Feldman wrote to me recently to say that in the first photo on the post The Hot Rod That Started It All – The Doane Spencer Roadster there is a gold plated DeLorean on the right side of the photo and since he owned one of only four made it is possible that this is his former car in the Vault of the Petersen Automotive Museum.
I asked him to share the story of how he came to own a gold plated DeLorean. This is not your normal car story.
Text and photos by Michael Feldman, OD
This was 30 years ago, so I will do my best to describe the sequence of events that took place.
In 1981, I took delivery of the first DeLorean on Long Island, New York and paid about $28,000 including a premium for getting the car early. I had received an offering by American Express describing 100 24K gold plated DeLoreans to be built and sold at the price of $85,000 each. I thought how cool was that?
I did some research and figured I could do it on my own and located an electro-chemical plating business in Laurel, Maryland called Brushtronics Engineering and arranged to have my car gold plated. It was not done by dipping each individual panel into an electroplating bath as were the three that were done for American Express – my car was already assembled and that was too impractical. Rather, a process known as brush-plating was done…one panel at a time.
Since stainless steel develops an oxide coating, the first step on each panel was to electrochemically clean the surface to remove the oxide and contaminants. Since gold does not adhere well to stainless steel, each cleaned panel was then nickel plated first and finally plated with 23K hard cobalt gold by dipping cloth coated wands hooked up to an electrical current into a clear solution containing the gold ions and then “brush” the panel depositing the gold onto each panel.
After each panel was finished, a levigated aluminum oxide white powder was used to polish the gold to a high luster. This procedure was repeated on the same panel several times to build up the gold thickness. It took at least 2-3 months to complete the entire car in Maryland and then I drove it home and took it to a local body shop to have the wheels and soft bumpers sprayed with gold paint to match the plating.
The gold plating also included the exhaust tips. I had a neighbor make up a rectangular brass plate that was engraved 24K Gold Plated DeLorean and glued to the passenger side dashboard.
I have numerous photographs of the car which appeared on TV in the Washington, D.C. and Maryland area news (I have video tape with me on it) as well as TV in Atlantic City, New Jersey where I had put it up for auction (it did not sell).
Brushtronics submitted an article in a “Plating and Surface Finishing” trade journal and sent a copy to me. It shows my car when it was being filmed for TV and also shows a great picture of it sitting with gull wings high next to John Lennon’s psychedelic painted Rolls Royce as the show cars of the Atlantic City auction.
Many months later, I sold the car to a man from Canada and the picture of the car sitting in the driveway of my first house in North Woodmere, Long Island New York is above. This picture was taken by the buyer the day he picked up the car and later appeared in Road & Track magazine for sale as I understand that he could not bring the car into Canada due to some technicality.
He stored it in a garage for some time near Niagra Falls, New York. I don’t know where the car eventually wound up…but that’s my story.
Oh yes, the entire project including travel, hotel, painting wheels/bumper and the gold electroplating cost me about $8,000 in 1981.
Has anyone else gold plated their car – any model? If so share you story here.
Let us know what you think in the Comments.
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