DMC: Back in Time
Family-run Crystal Lake shop keeps iconic DeLoreans running and looking good 35 years beyond their heyday.
The DeLorean was one of the most-anticipated new vehicles of the ’80s, garnering massive attention before the first one rolled off the line. The iconic sports car – with its gull-wing doors and brushed stainless steel body – is largely associated with the Back to the Future films as the tricked-out time machine.
In addition to it being instantly recognizable, several things make DeLoreans exceptional: the DeLorean DMC-12 was the only model ever produced by the company; they were only produced from 1981-83; and only 6,500 are believed to still exist. Still, that is about 75 percent of those produced. People tended to hold on to their DeLoreans because they knew they were special.
These facts, coupled with a very passionate group of car owners, keep the DeLorean Motor Co. Midwest shop in Crystal Lake busy doing repairs, maintenance and restoration. “We usually have 20 to 30 cars here at any given time,” said owner Michael McElhattan.
Micheal and his wife Suzy, of Algonquin, acquired the company in 2016 from David and Julee Swingle, who started the company in 2007. McElhattan, whose background is in auto service technology, was the first person they hired.
It’s one of five such shops in the United States, and the Crystal Lake location services DeLoreans from Nebraska to the East Coast. The shop has seen 800 cars since opening.
“They come here in all conditions,” explained McElhattan, “everything from needing an oil change to complete restoration. A third of the cars haven’t run in years, decades, even.”
Lucky for them, they have Jason Warbritton, lead technician, “one of the best in the world,” McElhattan explained.
The shop is stocked with parts for service, and ships out several parts to customers throughout the day.
DeLorean owners have a reputation for being down-to-earth and the same can be said for the McElhattan family, who welcomes curious folks to stop in, look around and discover the cultural phenomenon that is the DeLorean.