DeLorean: Back To The Future

The DeLorean DMC-12, often simply referred to as “the DeLorean,” is a sports car that has become an iconic symbol of the early 1980s.

Manufactured by the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC), it was the only model produced by the Northern Irish company before it ceased operations. Renowned for its distinctive gull-wing doors, stainless steel body, and rear-engine layout, the DeLorean was designed to be innovative and luxurious.

Despite its short production run from 1981 until 1983, the vehicle captured the imaginations of car enthusiasts around the world and still holds a special place in automotive history.

The legacy of the DeLorean transcends its manufacturing period, largely due to its role in popular culture and its timeless design. The DMC DeLorean gained legendary status when it was featured as a time machine in the “Back to the Future” film trilogy.

This appearance cemented the car’s place in popular culture and sparked a continued interest in its unique aesthetics and history. Today, the DeLorean remains a celebrated piece of automotive design, with a devoted community of owners and enthusiasts who preserve and drive these vehicles.

Key Takeaways

  • The DeLorean DMC-12 is known for its unique design, including gull-wing doors and a stainless steel body.
  • It rose to fame as a time-travelling car in the “Back to the Future” film series, impacting its cultural significance.
  • Modern developments and the enthusiasm of collectors have kept the DeLorean’s legacy alive.

The History of DeLorean

The DeLorean story is a tale of ambition, innovation, and the dramatic rise and fall of the DeLorean Motor Company. It captures the spirit of an era and the boldness of one man, John DeLorean, whose vision ultimately became a cultural icon, yet was marred by controversy and financial turmoil.

John DeLorean’s Vision

John DeLorean was a notable figure in the automotive industry, having risen through the ranks at General Motors before deciding to found his own company.

His intention was to create a sports car that would compete with the best but also be a symbol of the future. His vision led to the creation of the DMC DeLorean, a vehicle with a distinctive stainless steel body and gull-wing doors.

DeLorean Motor Company Formation

The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was established in 1975 in Detroit, Michigan, and later moved its operational base to Dunmurry, a suburb of Belfast in Northern Ireland.

The British government provided substantial financial support to the venture, hoping it would generate employment and economic growth in the region. The Dunmurry factory became the production hub for the DeLorean vehicles.

From Success to Bankruptcy

Despite the initial excitement surrounding the DeLorean, numerous issues, including production delays and cost overruns, plagued the company.

With only around 9,000 units produced, the company was placed into receivership in 1982. The Dunmurry factory ceased production by the end of that year, and the DeLorean Motor Company entered bankruptcy.

Although brief, the impact of DMC stretched far beyond its years of operation, leaving behind a legacy that persists even in the town of Humble, Texas, where enthusiasts and former employees maintain the history and celebrate the car that once represented the future.

Design and Features

The DeLorean DMC-12 remains an iconic sports coupe renowned for its unique design features and performance metrics that set it apart from other cars of its era.

Concept and Modelling by ItalDesign

The conceptualisation and modelling of the DeLorean DMC-12 were executed by ItalDesign, an Italian design firm led by the famed Giorgetto Giugiaro. Giugiaro envisioned the DeLorean as a futuristic and distinctive sports car that would combine aesthetic appeal with functionality.

Gull-Wing Doors and Body

One of the most striking features of the DeLorean is its gull-wing doors that add dramatic flair and functionality.

This feature, paired with the car’s unpainted stainless-steel body panels, gave the DeLorean a lasting visual impact. The body construction underneath the steel panels utilised a durable fiberglass structure.

Performance Metrics

Regarding performance, the DeLorean was designed to provide a solid driving experience. It boasted a respectable 0-60 mph acceleration time and a top speed suited for a sports car of its time, although it differed from other high-performance vehicles given its range and more practical approach to sports car design.

Cultural Impact

The DeLorean DMC-12 transcended its original status as a vehicle to become a cultural icon, chiefly through its association with the Back to the Future film series and various media portrayals that followed.

Back to the Future Legacy

The DeLorean’s journey into cultural immortality is largely tied to its role as the time-travelling car in the Back to the Future franchise.

Doc Brown’s ingenious modification of the DMC-12 into a time machine captured the imagination of audiences worldwide. Marty McFly’s adventures across time in these films solidified the vehicle’s status.

The series’ continued popularity has spurred a cult following and cemented the DeLorean’s image as an iconic car.

The sequel, Back to the Future Part II, further entrenched the car in popular culture, making it synonymous with innovation and nostalgia.

Media Representations

Aside from its fame on the silver screen, the DeLorean’s story and its creator’s life were scrutinised in the documentary Framing John DeLorean.

Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of DeLorean showed a multifaceted view of the auto magnate’s aspirations and downfalls. This depiction, amongst others, contributed to a nuanced understanding of the DeLorean legacy beyond its cinematic achievements.

The DMC-12’s influence extends into various media, demonstrating the car’s enduring appeal and how it continues to be an object of fascination in the public eye.

Modern Developments

The DeLorean brand has witnessed a remarkable resurrection in recent years with the introduction of new models, cutting-edge electric vehicle technology, and a reinforcement of its enduring legacy.

New DeLorean Models

Stephen Wynne’s vision for the DeLorean revival has given rise to new models that build upon the iconic status of the original car. The upcoming Alpha5 model is a flagship representation of this resurgence.

It integrates classic design cues with modern performance attributes, illustrating how the DeLorean brand continues to innovate while honouring its heritage.

Electric Vehicle Innovations

DeLorean’s transition into the realm of electric vehicles reflects an embrace of sustainable automotive solutions.

With significant investment in research and development, DeLorean EV models are expected to encompass advanced battery technology, offering a blend of efficiency and performance.

This move signifies not only a step towards a greener future but also an alignment with the latest trends in vehicle manufacturing.

Continued Legacy

The legacy of the DeLorean persists not only through content and media centred around the nostalgia of the brand but also through substantive advancements that epitomise the aspirations for the future.

The DeLorean name is synonymous with innovation, and as the automotive landscape evolves, so does the commitment of the DeLorean to remain at the forefront of design and technological excellence.

Ownership and Collecting

Owning a DeLorean is a unique experience that combines the joy of classic car ownership with the pride of possessing a piece of automotive history. Collecting DeLorean-related memorabilia also adds to the allure for enthusiasts and fans of this iconic vehicle.

Buying a DeLorean

When considering the purchase of a DeLorean, one should be aware that pricing can vary significantly based on condition and mileage. For instance, prices in 2022 could range considerably based on the car’s rarity and the market demand.

While not typically covered by warranty, DeLoreans sold through reputable specialists may offer some form of guarantee or after-sales support. Prospective buyers should also consider the long-term maintenance costs associated with owning a classic car.

Ownership Experience

Owning a DeLorean can be rewarding, albeit with some challenges. It’s reported that costs related to maintenance, including acquiring specific parts, can be high.

Given the vehicle’s status as a collectible, one should be prepared for the ongoing investment in upkeep and potential repairs. Due to its cult status, largely owing to the “Back to the Future” films, owners often experience a sense of community with other DeLorean enthusiasts.

Collectibles & Memorabilia

The DeLorean has spawned a diverse range of collectibles and memorabilia, reflecting its iconic status.

From scale models to original brochures, prices for these items can vary, with some particular pieces becoming highly sought after in 2024. Organisations such as The DeLorean Owners Club UK serve as hubs for collectors, offering resources, events, and a platform for buying and selling these treasured items.

Collectors may find that certain memorabilia appreciates in value over time, presenting not only sentimental worth but also financial merit.

Legal and Controversial Affairs

John DeLorean’s career, while marred with automotive innovation, also became entangled with legal controversies that gained widespread public attention.

Cocaine Trafficking Accusations

In the early 1980s, DeLorean faced serious allegations involving cocaine trafficking to rescue his struggling automobile company. It was suggested that his involvement in a multimillion-dollar cocaine deal was an act of desperation to avert the impending bankruptcy of the DeLorean Motor Company.

FBI Operations and Acquittal

A complex FBI sting operation was instrumental in his arrest in 1982, involving undercover FBI agents who posed as drug traffickers.

However, DeLorean’s defence team successfully argued that he had been the victim of entrapment, leading to his acquittal on all charges in August 1984. The fallout from the trial and the media circus surrounding it further cemented DeLorean’s controversial legacy.

Production and Manufacturing

The iconic DeLorean sports car, with its distinctive stainless-steel body, experienced a production run that faced substantial quality and inventory challenges at its manufacturing plant in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

Manufacturing in Dunmurry

The DeLorean Motor Company established its principal manufacturing plant in Dunmurry, a suburb southwest of Belfast.

Production figures suggest the facility produced approximately 9,000 cars between 1981 and 1982.

Despite ambitions for high output, the company encountered numerous setbacks during the manufacturing process, including labour disputes and supply chain disruptions.

Quality and Inventory Challenges

Throughout its brief period of car-making, DeLorean battled ongoing quality issues that marred the vehicle’s reputation.

For instance, the innovative stainless-steel body panels often presented alignment problems.

Additionally, the inventory system at the plant was not optimally managed, leading to a surplus of parts that far exceeded the number of completed cars, especially towards the end of the company’s operations.

These complications, combined with other factors, eventually led to the company’s downfall.

Specifications and Mechanics

In this section, we explore the intricate details of the DeLorean DMC-12’s design and engineering. From its distinctive engine and drivetrain configurations to the iconic gullwing doors, we look at the essence of what made this car a symbol of luxury and innovation.

Engine and Drivetrain

The DeLorean DMC-12 is equipped with a rear-mounted V6 engine, lending to a distinctive driving experience.

This 2.85-litre powerplant was capable of an output of 130 bhp, coupled with a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.

The rear engine placement provides a low centre of gravity and balanced weight distribution, allowing for improved traction and handling.

Acceleration: The car can move from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in approximately 8.8 seconds, representing a respectable performance characteristic of its era.

Interior and Exterior Features

The DeLorean’s exterior is known for its stainless steel finish and gullwing doors that open upwards rather than outwards.

These doors not only provided an element of dramatic flair but were also practical in tight parking spaces.

Rear Window: The design includes a full-width rear window providing unobstructed rearward visibility.

Inside, the DMC-12‘s cabin reflects an air of luxury with leather seats and an ergonomic layout designed for driver comfort and convenience.

  • Interior Comforts: Provided with air conditioning, a telescopic steering wheel, and electric windows
  • Exterior Dimensions: It measures in at 4,267 mm (length) x 1,988 mm (width) x 1,132 mm (height)

The DMC-12 embodies a marrying of mechanics and luxury, making it an intriguing chapter in automotive history.

DeLorean Motor Company’s Future

The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) stands on the brink of an ambitious resurgence, aiming to redefine its legacy within the luxury automotive market through a strategic fusion of innovative management and a clear vision for brand evolution.

Management and Strategy

Under current leadership, DMC is crafting a strategy centred on leveraging its iconic status while pivoting towards future mobility needs.

The CEO has been steering the company towards a synthesis of tradition with pioneering technology, aligning with the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs).

A bold approach to the design and development of their vehicles, such as the envisioned electric sedan, reflects DMC’s commitment to sustainability and cutting-edge performance.

Market Positioning and Brand Evolution

DMC’s market positioning is poised to blend nostalgia with modernity, offering consumers an evocative yet up-to-date driving experience.

The planned reimagining of the classic DMC-12, transformed into an all-electric platform, is an example of this brand evolution.

With a focus on the luxury sector, the company aspires to capture a niche clientele, keen on owning a part of history that resonates with contemporary values and expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, DeLorean enthusiasts and history buffs alike will find answers to some of the most common queries about the iconic car brand and its storied past.

How many DeLorean vehicles were produced?

Approximately 9,000 DeLorean cars were manufactured during the brief production period from 1981 to 1982. It is estimated that about 6,000 still exist today.

What is the cost of a DeLorean in the current market?

The cost of a DeLorean in today’s market varies greatly depending on its condition and provenance, with prices ranging from £30,000 to over £40,000 for well-preserved models.

For which reason was John DeLorean arrested?

John DeLorean was arrested in 1982 on charges of conspiring to traffic narcotics; however, he successfully defended himself at trial, arguing entrapment by federal agents.

What led to the closure of the DeLorean Motor Company?

The closure of the DeLorean Motor Company was due to a combination of factors, including financial difficulties, high production costs, and lower-than-expected sales figures.

What engine is fitted in the DeLorean DMC-12?

The DeLorean DMC-12 is fitted with a 130hp PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) engine. This V6 power plant was used in all DeLorean models produced.

What are the new features of the DeLorean Alpha 5?

The DeLorean Alpha 5 is a contemporary take on the classic. It features modern electric powertrain technology and advanced creature comforts, marking a significant update from the original model.