Above a sea of scorching blacktop and under a bright blue sky, 50 people gather in tents and on lawn chairs just off the turnpike in Willow Grove, Pa. The parking lot of the Willow Grove Pep Boys is full of DeLorean DMC-12s, the car immortalized as Doc Brown’s time machine in the “Back to the Future” movies. Today is the annual spring social for the DeLorean Mid-Atlantic car club, a group born of a common love for the classic stainless steel sports car of the early 1980s. With the music of Tommy James and Bob Seger floating through the warm air, DeLorean season in the Northeast is officially under way.
“The spring social is kind of when we kick off our year,” says Stephen Card, a commercial roofer and longtime club member from Perkasie, Pa.
“This is a pretty good turnout for us,” the black-and-silver-haired Card continues, sunglasses dangling from the collar of his grey DeLorean Mid-Atlantic Club golf shirt.
The spring social is the first event on the calendar for the club, and it drew 25 DeLoreans and one Lotus from all across the country to this modest car-care center in quaint Willow Grove.
“We had people come from as far as North Carolina,” says Scott McMullan, now the former president of the club. Officer elections were today, and McMullan chose not to seek reelection.
The DeLorean Mid-Atlantic car club is “just a bunch of people who like DeLoreans and who like spending time together,” said Carol McMullan, Scott’s wife who works as a volunteer in animal control. Carol and her husband got involved in the club seven years ago when her mother died.
“We needed something happy after my mother passed away,” she said.
What the McMullans got, though, is not just a club, but a group of close friends. After a tough year – Carol’s father died recently – the club proved to be a sort of support system for the McMullans.
“Somebody offered to help me sort through my dad’s house [after he died] and they live two-and-a-half hours away,” Carol says with a warm smile.
“It’s just a really nice group of people,” she adds.
Carol had been unsure of what she and Scott would find when they came to their first spring social years ago. She said they didn’t know what the atmosphere at the event would be like, so they decided to not bring their kids. But the two were pleasantly surprised with what they found.
“We brought the kids to every other event since,” says the self-proclaimed “homeroom mom.”
“I’m in town for the night and then we’re going back,” he says.
Others live locally, like the McMullans, or Card, who lives about a half-hour away from Willow Grove. Including North Carolina and Ohio, there are DeLoreans with license plates from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, New York and New Jersey.
In addition to the wide variety of home states here, DeLorean owners of all ages came to enjoy the sunshine and the company of fellow enthusiasts.
“We have new owners who are 17, and then there’s original owners who bought the car in 1981 and have owned it ever since,” Card says. “What brings us all together is the car.” Card himself was a member of the club before he even owned a DeLorean.
The club sometimes branches out to do some good for the community, too. Carol said one time the club received a request from a family whose son had leukemia. They wanted to throw an ‘80s-themed birthday party for the boy and asked about having a DeLorean there.
“The officers [of the club] then passed that message on to the membership,” Carol says, “and three of our members showed up and let the kids hang and take pictures with the cars.”
Everybody seems happy with the turnout at the spring social. The warm weather certainly has something to do with the rather high attendance, but perhaps there is more to it.
“One of the neat things is the different ages and different backgrounds and we all have the car in common,” Card says. “That says a lot about the club. You wouldn’t drive all that way if you don’t enjoy spending time with the people that are there.”
A few long-absent faces reemerged at today’s gathering, too.
“We had a lot of members who hadn’t been to an event in a couple years – they came out today,” Scott says. “So it was good to get some people back into the fold. It was really nice.”