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Memories of Wooler Hodec
#1
Hi again all! I managed to pump my dad for information of his time at Wooler Hodec tonight, and would very much like to share this little bit of writing I have done to record all he told me!

If you don't want to read it all now, here is the link to my Writing.com account where you can read it as well! Smile http://www.writing.com/main/portfolio/view/catfishcky

Here goes:

For my whole life, I have adored my dad and all the amazing experiences he has shared with me over the years - and they never get old, no matter how many times he tells me!
He's constantly regaling me of stories of all the fast cars he's driven, always saying 'Driven one of them' whenever he is in my presence just to annoy the fellow car maniac that is his daughter; always with that glint in his eye.

This memory I am writing about today is whilst he was working on the infamous Delorean Motor Corp. DMC-12 'Delorean' at the Hampshire based firm Wooler Hodec; who were contracted by DMC itself to convert a batch of off-cast so-called 'black cars' into right-hand drive. I have used excerpts from PJ Grady's website - UK based experts on the Deloreans - to help weave my father's memories.

The 'black cars' were shipped to Wooler Hodec in Hampshire on instruction from DMC to make a batch of prototype right-hand drive models for possible production into the aingularly left hand drive market of the DMC-12.
The 'black cars' were so called because of their black fibreglass tubs, naked as the day they were born, whilst they were used as test models for development of the Delorean's stainless steel panels.
Wooler Hodec was singularly provided the contract to make what they could of useful black car tubs, and dispose of the unusable tubs. These condemned tubs were crushed, or burnt in a field that was part of a large estate owned by Wooler Hodec. My dad reminisced of this memory with a chuckle - it had been one of his jobs whilst at Wooler to dispose of these tubs. There was a rough patch of ground at the base of this field, and he would transport the useless tubs down to the end of this field to burn them - back before the days that pollution became such a global issue.
Another memory he recalled of the dodgy black cars, was the tendency for the fibreglass to be weak. There was many an occasion the Wooler employees would open a door of the out-cast car to get out, and hear a crack above them. They would hurriedly let go and protect their head when the gas strut gave way from the fibreglass and came lancing towards them. This was apparently a fairly common problem!

PJ Grady: In total, around twenty authorised right-hand drive conversions were carried out, and the work that Wooler Hodec undertook in each conversion was extensive including:
- Custom steering rack and pedal configuration.
- Modifications to body tub, to move pedals to right side and to fill the void on the left side.


My dad recalled this part of the modification process with admiration. In order to change the Deloreans from left-hand to right-hand drive (RHD), they had to cut into the fibreglass of the 'black car' shell and cut the entire fibreglass 'trunk' out of the front of the Delorean shell; and once modified to right hand drive, they would have an industrial glue resin that they would use to re-attach the parts back together. Dad did mention the name but I cannot recall it presently.

PJ Grady:
- New remodelled dashboard and carpets


This was done entirely from scratch in the Wooler Hodec workshop – they had to fabricate all of the mouldings from the original items and adapt them over for RHD configuration. The interiors were also specially trimmed to set the Wooler Hodec cars apart from the original DMC ones - the grey leather seats were re-trimmed in black leather and all cars were converted to have a manual gearbox. There is only one factory authorised RHD automatic car in existence.

PJ Grady:
- Moving of electrical system
- Moving of heater matrix and air conditioning unit


My dad has told me that this modification to the matrix and air con caused Wooler several headaches.
At first, they had thought all they would need to do is take out the system, re-wire it to RHD configuration, reverse the motor and re-attach the paddle-wheel-type fan. It was simple on paper but when it actually came to execution it was not as simple as first thought.
When they had reversed the motor, attaching the fan back onto its mountings did not work. As the fan was styled in a particular way, as the motor was reversed, the air would be sucked OUT of the cabin instead of blown IN. As Wooler had decided there was no other way around this, they instead had to contract a company to make replicas of these fans with reversed direction – that way, when attached to the reversed motors, the fans then began to blow normally once more.

PJ Grady:
- Moving of handbrake
- Resetting of windscreen wipers and fittings
- Installation of 140mph speedometer (some were kph)
- Installation of Euro spec lights
- And many other changes...


Including the relocation of an ashtray in the Delorean's cockpit. There had been a designer employed by DMC to help Wooler implement these changes, as I understand.
My dad told me a tale that this designer had gone and had the bright idea of suggesting the ashtray should be put in the armrest of the door. When met by a chorus of laughter, ashamed, he asked why was he being laughed at. The Wooler guys had to remind the designer that the DMC12 had gull-wing doors – if the ashtray was put in the door, when opened it would simply shower the ash back over the driver and interior of the car. Suitably abashed, he agreed with them, stating it was indeed a daft idea.

Whilst working on the Deloreans, my dad recalls a fond memory whilst popping down to the shops with a colleague in one of the unregistered Deloreans with a trade plate on whilst it waited to be converted. My dad stopped outside a newsagent, and his colleague popped in to get a Mars bar and newspaper whilst dad waited at the roadside with one of the legendary gull-wing doors open.
Before long, a traffic police officer came up to my dad, face of fury; and pointed at the trade plate.
"What are you doing with that car on the road? It's not showing as insured - what do you think you're playing at?!"
My dad, nonchalant in his younger years shrugged as he looked as the police officer. "I'm just waiting for my colleague - we're insured to drive these cars even if they're on trade plates if we need to do an errand."
At this point, dad's work colleague comes out of the newsagent, Mars bar and paper in hand. Flabbergasted, the officer points at dad's colleague. "Errands? You're getting a snack - that's not an important errand!"
Dad shrugged. "Well alright, we're heading back now. Don't worry, won't be doing it again."
With a stomp the officer returned to his car leaving dad and his colleague to chuckle at the whole encounter.

Unfortunately, DMC's hopes of producing right-hand drive Deloreans never got further than the prototype stage as the Delorean business folded in 1982.
My dad states that although the RHD configuration was never mass produced, the cars Wooler completed were entirely complete, cars in their own right. They did not end up as prototypes but lovingly hand-crafted machines.

He had be given the opportunity to 'procure' several spares for Deloreans, enough to make several complete individual cars; as DMC were not bothering to take account of the stocks - but at the time he never thought anything would come of it.
He recalls when Wooler received instructions from DMC to dismantle whatever Deloreans they had, they obliged as required. He remembers throwing several items into a skip, thinking they were worthless. He recalls throwing away about 6 pairs of black leather seats into the skip, along with an assortment of various Delorean parts. He even mentioned he took an oxy-acetylene torch to the numerous Lotus crafted chassis, having to cut them in half simply to get them into this skip.
Another memory he fondly remembers, is when the collapse of DMC was over all the news programmes, and the Wooler Hodec workshop was swamped with media, and several helicopters flying above to get a shot of all the Deloreans to be destroyed.
He remembers one of his fellow colleagues there, Terry Eates, wandering outside into Wooler's grounds with the cavalcade of media above; simply sticking his two fingers up in the air at the intruding paps! At that point, the boss had said to batten down the hatches and close all doors until the madness was over.
My dad also recalls his boss managed to secure a complete Delorean. He had arranged a container to come and pick it up to be put into storage, and it was reversed dutifully into the container, never to be seen again it seems... There is a rumour going around of the Wooler Hodec fibreglass bodies being buried in Sussex, but whether this is true or not, who knows!

It was not long after the collapse of DMC when Wooler Hodec ceased trading - for reasons my dad does not know.
My dad had luckily managed to leave Wooler Hodec before it ceased trading to work in a similar place called Locomotors.

That's all I could get out of him tonight unfortunately, but I will try and keep pressing him for little snippets of knowledge as and when I can Smile

Copyright of my words to Me and my father, Patrick Flynn.
Information on the RHD conversions from PJ Grady Europe.

Oh and this picture from PJ Grady's site:

[Image: dandcrush.jpg]

My dad doesn't think this picture is anything to do with Wooler Hodec, and no other companies had been contracted to dispose of the Delorean shells.
My dad believes this is simply a picture of a Delorean in a wrecking yard or similar, but nothing to do with Wooler.
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#2
Really interesting, thanks so much for posting this up.

Chris
Membership Secretary DOC UK
2018's DeLorean event: http://deloreans.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?tid=5715
VIN#15768 Ex VIN#4584 1972 Bond Bug.
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#3
I have only just come accross this facinating piece. The Photo was taken by me, of Andy Withers RHD car when we visited Andover and "Woolers" as it now known, in 2002.

We even found and visited the chicken sheds where the "black cars" were stored, this picture is taken in the local scrap yard where much of the metal scrap ended up. The owner of the yard recals their craine displaying a dozen DeLorean badges inside its cab. Andy and I also visited the local tip where all the chopped up, non-metalic bits were dumped. Giving rise to the "burried cars" mith.
I know where the car in container ended up, indeed it may be soon put on the road for the first time!

I'd love to discuss this further, pehaps you could get in touch?
history@deloreans.co.uk or phone me on 07502 143 433. Thanks.
Chris Parnham in Derby  chrisparnham@live.co.uk  07502 143 433
Grey RHD Auto MGJ 126Y (AXI 1699)
BMW X1 4X4 Auto.
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug in 4X4
MG ZS EV Plug in (on order)
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#4
Sorry seem to have submitted my post twice.
Chris Parnham in Derby  chrisparnham@live.co.uk  07502 143 433
Grey RHD Auto MGJ 126Y (AXI 1699)
BMW X1 4X4 Auto.
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug in 4X4
MG ZS EV Plug in (on order)
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#5
fascinating stuff, be great to meet you and your dad someday - and Chrispy..... :wink:

be great to see another of the infamous RHD cars come out of the woodwork Mr Green
Claire  - DOC-UK Treasurer
1981/W DeLorean DMC-12 'Flopsy' - #2292 - resting due to block rot 
1989/G Vauxhall Cavalier 1.6L 5dr "Guinney" -
1995/N Renault Espace RT Alize 2.1TD "Jaffa the Bus"
DOC170
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#6
Sorry, just saw your responses!
Thank you for your input Chris, that's probably why my dad didn't recognise it! I'll pass on the knowledge to him, see if he can remember it!
Obviously it's a bit late to call you now, Chris, but I will be home by 2.30 every day this week if that's any good for you?

Guinney, My dad and I love to meet you all at an event one day - If there is one close enough I'll see if I can drag him along, he's very much a people person lol
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#7
It would be great to have a chat, i'm available after 2.30 most days, on 01332 551 221.

best regards.
Chris Parnham in Derby  chrisparnham@live.co.uk  07502 143 433
Grey RHD Auto MGJ 126Y (AXI 1699)
BMW X1 4X4 Auto.
Mitsubishi Outlander Plug in 4X4
MG ZS EV Plug in (on order)
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#8
Have found this thread really interesting, especially as we own one of the Wooler Hodec RHD cars. If you find out more, do let us know.

Also, did any modifications take place at Wooler after the factory folded? Have been told that Gerry Castle organised work to be done on some RHD D's in 1983. Would your father be able to verify this?

Many thanks for your post
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#9
Thanks for the post, my dad would be over the moon to know one of the RHDs have found a good home Smile

I believe once DMC folded, I believe Wooler were given orders to dismantle whatever they had left and send some of it back to Dunmurry, and then scrap the rest. as far as dad has told me, no further work was done in Wooler once they had received the orders from DMC.

Chris P has confirmed Gerry Castle did do RHD conversions after DMC folded, but this was nothing to do with Wooler. Chris and I are in talks to do an interview with my dad soon to clarify any thing that needs clarifying!
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