Stephen Armstrong is counting down the days until the end of December - but it’s not Christmas he’s waiting for.
Stephen is expecting a very special arrival, and it is one that he has anticipated since the age of seven.
After watching Back to the Future as a young boy, Stephen dreamt of owning his own DeLorean DMC - the car made famous by the much celebrated film trilogy.
“It was from there on that I wanted one,” explains Stephen, who now lives in Lurgan with his wife, Caroline, and their two children.
“I was always dreaming of getting one! I used to draw the DMC logo on my school books and people used to ask what it was. I was never interested in football - this was my interest!”
As he grew older, his Delorean-themed daydreams only increased and he quickly realised that there were many others who shared his passion for the cars - which were produced in a South Belfast factory between 1981 and 1983.
“I got involved with the DeLorean community in Northern Ireland,” says Stephen, “and met Barry Wills. He had been the one in charge of ordering parts at the DeLorean factory.”
Stephen recently set up a Facebook page, ‘Timeless DeLorean Northern Ireland’, and has long used the social media site to connect with fellow motoring fans. In fact, it was there that his dream of owning a DeLorean DMC was realised.
“I’m an admin of a group called ‘DeLorean Fanatics’,” explains Stephen, “and that’s where I saw this one.”
This ‘one’ is a DeLorean DMC-12, originally built in October 1981 in the Dunmurry factory, and currently residing in Canada.
“I’m originally from Fermanagh and now I work across the road from the old DeLorean factory - I pass it every day,” says Stephen. “That’s what made this guy in Canada so keen to sell it - the fact that I work across the road from its birthplace. This seller is from the birthplace of Michael J. Fox, the actor who played Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy!”
With so many coincidences weaving together, it seems quite clear that this is a match that is very much meant to be, and one that Stephen’s wife has supported.
“When I was getting married in 2007, my wife organised for a DeLorean to pick me up and bring me to the wedding!” Stephen shares. “Although I don’t think she knew just how big a DeLorean fan I was until after we were married!”
In recent years Stephen has become good friends with many of those who originally worked in the DeLorean factory, and has been heavily involved in workers’ reunions, as well as starring in an American documentary called DeLorean: Living the Dream:
“I came across this guy on Facebook and was telling him that the original factory and test track was still in place. He first came over in 2011 and then, at a workers’ reunion in May, he said to me: “Would you like to be in a movie?””
Stephen has also met big names in the DeLorean revival movement, such as James Espey - Vice President of the DeLorean Motor Company in Texas, which sells, services and produces parts for DeLorean cars.
Now, the iminent arrival of Stephen’s newly-acquired DeLorean is being eagerly anticipated by many across the country.
“Owners here in Northern Ireland are very keen to meet once I get the car,” Stephen shares. “There’s a man in Donegal who owns a DeLorean from October 1981 and is keen to get a picture of the cars together. All in all, there are fifty DeLoreans in Northern Ireland and fifty in the south. The 2016 DeLorean Eurofest is taking place in Belfast, and people come from as far away as America, Japan, Australia and Sweden - they’re so keen to get back to the car’s birthplace.”
Stephen is looking forward to having his very own DeLorean on time for next year’s event and the month’s wait seems relatively short after having prepared for this moment for a lifetime.
“The car arrives in London on the 28th December,” Stephen explains. “A cousin of mine is bringing it over from there for me.”
Stephen doesn’t plan on hiding his new prize, either:
“I’m planning to do special events with it, like weddings. I’m hoping to drive it on the original test track at the factory, too. It’ll be like birthdays and Christmas all together!”