DeLorean DMC-12 History
|Manufacturer||DeLorean Motor Company|
|Production||1981–1982 new rebuilts 2008–present|
|Assembly||Dunmurry, Northern Ireland Houston, Texas, United States|
|Body style||2-door Coupe|
|Engine||2,849 cc PRV ZMJ-159 V6 150 hp (EUR) 130 hp (US)|
|Transmission||5-speed manual 3-speed automatic|
|Wheelbase||2,413 mm (95.0 in)|
|Length||4,216 mm (166.0 in)|
|Width||1,857 mm (73.1 in)|
|Height||1,140 mm (44.9 in) doors closed 1,961 mm (77.2 in) doors open|
|Curb weight||1,230 kg (2,712 lb)|
The DeLorean DMC-12 (commonly referred to simply as The DeLorean as it was the only model ever produced by the company) is a sports car manufactured by John DeLorean's DeLorean Motor Company for the American market in 1981–82. Featuring gull-wing doors with a fiberglass "underbody", to which non-structural brushed stainless steel panels are affixed, the car became iconic for the appearance of a modified version as a time machine in the Back to the Future film trilogy.
The DMC-12 was the only model produced by the company which would go into liquidation as the US car market went through its largest slump since the 1930s. In 2007, about 6,500 DeLorean Motor cars were believed to still exist.The first prototype appeared in October 1976, and production officially began in 1981 in Dunmurry, a suburb of south west Belfast, Northern Ireland (with the first DMC-12 rolling off the production line on January 21). During its production, several features of the car were changed, such as the hood style, wheels and interior. Approximately 9,000 DMC-12s were made before production halted in late 1982.
Texas entrepreneur Stephen Wynne started a separate company in 1995 using the "DeLorean Motor Company" name and shortly thereafter acquired the trademark on the stylized "DMC" logo as well as the remaining parts inventory of the original DeLorean Motor Company. The company, at its suburban Humble, Texas location, completes newly assembled cars from new old stock (NOS) parts, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and reproduction parts on a "made to order" basis using existing Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plates.
In October 1976, the first prototype DeLorean DMC-12 was completed by William T. Collins, chief engineer and designer (formerly chief engineer at Pontiac). Originally, the car was intended to have a centrally-mounted Citroën/NSU Comotor Wankel rotary engine. The engine selection was reconsidered when Comotor production ended, and the favored engine became Ford's "Cologne V6." Eventually the French/Swedish PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) fuel injected V6, was selected. Also the engine location moved from the mid-engined location in the prototype to a rear-engined installation in the production car. The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as Elastic Reservoir Moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable.
These and other changes to the original concept led to considerable schedule pressures. The entire car was deemed to require almost complete re-engineering, which was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder and owner of Lotus. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus. The backbone chassis is very similar to that of the Lotus Esprit. The original Giorgetto Giugiaro body design was left mostly intact, as were the distinctive stainless steel outer skin panels and gull-wing doors.
In an interview with James Espey of the new incarnation of the DeLorean Motor Company of Texas, a drawing surfaced showing that the car was potentially to be called Z Tavio. John DeLorean's middle name and his son's first name were both Zachary while Tavio was his father's name and his son's middle name. Due to only sporadic documentation, there is little more that is currently known about the Z Tavio name and why it was ultimately rejected in favor of the DMC-12.
DeLorean required $175 million to develop and build the motor company. Convincing Hollywood celebrities such as Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr to invest in the firm, DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighborhood a few miles from Belfast city center.
The company had originally intended to build the factory in Puerto Rico but changed their plans when the Northern Ireland Development Agency offered £100 million towards it, despite an assessment by consultants hired by the NIDA that the business had only a 1-in-10 chance of success.
Construction on the factory began in October 1978, and although production of the DMC-12 was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981.
By that time, the unemployment rate was high in Northern Ireland and local residents lined up to apply for jobs at the factory. The workers were largely inexperienced, but were paid premium wages and supplied with the best equipment available. Most quality issues were solved by 1982 and the cars were sold from dealers with a one-year, 12,000-mile (19,000 km) warranty and an available five-year, 50,000-mile (80,000 km) service contract.
The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 following John DeLorean's arrest in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production. Approximately 100 partially assembled DMCs on the production line were completed by Consolidated International (now known as Big Lots). The remaining parts from the factory stock, the parts from the US Warranty Parts Center, as well as parts from the original suppliers that had not yet been delivered to the factory were all shipped to Columbus, Ohio in 1983–1984. A company called KAPAC sold these parts to retail and wholesale customers via mail order. In 1997, DeLorean Motor Company of Texas acquired this inventory. There has also been a long-standing rumor that the body stamping dies were dumped into the ocean to prevent later manufacture. More recently, evidence emerged that the dies were used as anchors for nets at a fish farm in Ards Bay, Connemara.
About 9,200 DMC-12s were produced between January 1981 and December 1982. Almost a fifth of these were produced in October 1981. About one thousand 1982 models were produced between February and May 1982, and all of these cars had the VINs changed after purchase by Consolidated to make them appear as 1983 models. There are the 15XXX, 16XXX, and 17XXX VINs which were originally 10XXX, 11XXX, and 12XXX VINs. Only twelve 12XXXX VIN cars still exist. These are the Wooler-Hodec right-hand drive cars
Back to the Future
Several special-edition DMC-12 cars have been produced over the years, and the car is most notably featured as the time machine in the Back to the Future film trilogy. The PRV engines of the cars were dubbed over with recorded V8 sounds. Six DeLorean chassis were used during the production, along with one manufactured out of fiberglass for scenes where a full-size DeLorean was needed to "fly" on-screen; only three of the cars still exist, with one having been destroyed at the end of Back to the Future Part III, two additional cars left to rot, and the fiberglass replica being torn apart for scrap. Universal Studios owns two of the remaining cars, occasionally putting them on display or using them for other productions, and the last resides in a private collection after having been extensively restored.
There have also been major finds in the last few years of "pilot cars". These cars, used for testing of the DeLorean, had been thought destroyed. The test car featured on the front cover of Autocar in 1981 announcing the DeLorean to the world was found in 2003 in a barn in Northern Ireland; it is currently undergoing restoration. Production of the DeLorean started at VIN 500. VINs 502 and 530 were used by Legend Industries as a proof of concept for a twin-turbo version of the standard DeLorean PRV-V6 engine. Only one other twin-turbo engine is known to exist: it was purchased in the late 1990s by an individual owner.
VIN 500, notable for being the first production DeLorean to roll off the line in 1981, is on display in the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
For Christmas 1980, A DeLorean/American Express promotion planned to sell one hundred 24k-Karat Gold Plated DMC-12s for $85,000 each to its gold card members, but only two were sold. One of these was purchased by Roger Mize, president of Snyder National Bank in Snyder, Texas. VIN #4301 sat in the bank lobby for over 20 years before being loaned to the Petersen Automotive Museum of Los Angeles. It has a black interior, and an automatic transmission.
The second gold-plated American Express DMC-12 was purchased by Sherwood Marshall, an entrepreneur and former Royal Canadian Naval Officer. Mr. Marshall donated his DeLorean to the William F. Harrah Foundation/National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. This car, VIN #4300, is the only one of the three existing gold-plated cars to be equipped with a manual transmission. It has a tan interior and like its golden siblings, it is a low-mileage vehicle with only 1,442 miles (2,321 km) on the odometer.
A third and last gold-plated car exists with 636 miles (1,024 km) on the odometer; it carries the VIN plate for the last DeLorean, #20105, although final assembly was actually completed in Columbus, Ohio in 1983. This car was assembled with spare parts that were required by American Express in case one of the other two that were built were damaged and all necessary gold-plated parts were on hand, with the exception of one door. Thus the car was assembled after another door was gold-plated, though the added door does not precisely match the rest of the car in color and grain [as can be seen in the photos]. The car was first acquired by the winner of a Big Lots store raffle. Consolidated International, which owned the department store, had purchased 1,374 DMC-12s during the DeLorean Company's financial troubles, acquiring the remaining stock after the company went into receivership. Now held by a private owner in La Vale, Maryland, this third and last gold-plated DeLorean was for sale online at a price of $250,000 [unsold from 2001 to 2012] after being offered for sale for over a decade it is unclear whether it has sold. This car and the example in Reno have saddle-brown leather interiors, a color scheme which was intended to become an option on later production cars however, these two cars were the only DeLoreans to ever be equipped with these factory parts.
DMC Texas' new build cars
DMC Texas (based in Humble, Texas) announced on July 30, 2007 that the car would be returning into very limited production (about twenty cars per year) in 2008. The newly produced cars would have a base price of $57,500 and have new stainless steel frames; with optional extras such as GPS, an enhanced "Stage 2" engine, and possibly a new modern interior. The cars would be made with 80% old parts and the rest new. This project was featured in an episode of Modern Marvels. The term "return to production" is something of a misnomer; the cars are built on DeLorean underbodies built by the original company in the 1980s and retaining their VINs. The cars' titles will show the year of the underbody's manufacture. They are, therefore, not new DeLoreans, but complete rebuilds of the car from the underbody with enhancements.
On October 18, 2011, it was announced that an all-electric model would be available for sale by 2013. It will have a 200 hp (149 kW) motor, accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 8 seconds, and have a range of 100 miles (160 km) between charges. It is expected to sell for $90,000 USD.
A press release issued by the DeLorean Motor Company October 14, 2011 states the Electric DeLorean (DMC EV) will sport a 400-volt AC induction liquid cooled electric motor producing 260 hp (190 kW) and 360 lb·ft (490 N·m) of torque capable of accelerating 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 4.9seconds with a cruising range of at least 100 miles (160 km).
De Lorean DMC-12 Wheeler Dealers Series 8