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||V6 2,849 cc PRV ZMJ-159|
|Power||150 hp (EUR) 130 hp (US) at 5500 rpm|
|Acceleration||0 to 60 mph (0-95 km/h): 9.6 sec|
|Transmission||5-speed manual 3-speed automatic|
|Max torque||162 1b ft (219 Nm) @ 2,750 rpm|
|Top speed||125 mph (200 km/h)|
|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 is the only production model built by the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC). The coupé was manufactured in Northern Ireland from January 1981 to December 1982. The car became particularly well-known through the film trilogy Back to the Future, in which it was converted into a time machine.
John DeLorean intended to create an automobile that was ethical, safe, long-lasting, and sustainable. DeLorean thought that small, high-quality vehicles with powerful, economical engines and greater safety belonged in the future even as a GM manager. Because the rest of management disagreed, DeLorean grew increasingly aggressive with his coworkers as GM's vice president, eventually leading to his being given the option of leaving voluntarily or being fired. To save face, John DeLorean resigned from GM in May 1973 in order to form his own company with the goal of producing a sports car under his own brand DMC - DeLorean Motor Company. Bill Collins, a former Pontiac engineer, was in charge of developing the engineering concept at this early stage.
Early on, DeLorean and Collins tried to implement their ideas of an ethical car by buying a safety concept from the "Allstar" insurance company and creating the first prototypes of the DMC-12 on this basis, which, however, was still DSV (DeLorean Safety Vehicle) was called.
As early as 1975, John DeLorean decided to have the shape of his car designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro . The design was ready after just a few months. It wasn't a completely new design, as Giugiaro used a template intended for the Porsche 928 that Porsche had rejected. There was also a vehicle that looked very similar in the form of the Marta Laser. The shape was derived from Giugiaro 's Maserati Medici study, a sensational work that would later produce vehicles as diverse as the Maserati Quattroporte III and Audi Coupé Series I influenced. The light rear section with the thin struts was based on Giugiaro's designs for the Maserati’s Bora and Merak .
The first drawings from 1975 envisage a 2+2-seat version of the coupé – at least as an alternative design. Ultimately, it was not realised; DeLorean stuck with the conception of the DMC-12 as a two-seater John DeLorean was 6 ft 4 in (193 cm) tall, and he designed the car to comfortably fit someone of his size. The idea of a four-seater was revisited sometime later with DeLorean's Medusa project.
Giorgetto Giugiaro 's company Italdesign in Moncalieri near Turin was commissioned in February 1975 to design the DeLorean car. In March 1975 Giorgetto Giugiaro showed his client John DeLorean and his chief engineer William T. Collins Jr. five different side views on a scale of 1:10 and some front views. In July 1975, just under six months after the order was placed, DeLorean and Collins saw the see-through Epowood model and approved of it. Epowood is an epoxy resin foam that can be worked with woodworking hand tools. The advantage over wood is that it has no fibres.
After that, the American company Kar Kraft produced a first prototype, which was ready to drive in early 1977. The car differed from the later production model in some details - for example in the position of the rear-view mirrors and in the side windows - but apart from that largely corresponded to the specifications of Bill Collins and John DeLorean. It adopted many of the safety features of the Allstar safety concept, so it was equipped with airbags, among other things. Initial tests of a 3-litre V6 engine from Ford yielded unsatisfactory results, and DeLorean resorted to a four-cylinder engine from Citroën. The first prototype received the engine and transmission from the Citroën CX, which had an output of 75 kW (102 hp). However, a 5-speed gearbox was not available for the Citroën engine, and the engine also proved to be too weak, which is why DeLorean considered turbocharging. Citroën rejected this with reference to warranty claims and resigned as a possible engine supplier.
In 1977 a second prototype was made, which was manufactured by Creative Industries. It had a 2.7-litre Peugeot / Renault / Volvo V6 engine (the so-called “PRV engine” or Europa engine), which Bill Collins had already noticed in the Renault Alpine A310. Fitting this large, heavy engine meant that the entire rear half of the car had to be redesigned; a mid-engine car became a rear-engine construction. Because the project was progressing very slowly and DeLorean was increasingly under pressure from its investors, he decided – without consulting Bill Collins – to outsource further development of the car.
In January 1979 Charles Bennington, Director of DeLorean Motor Cars Limited, newly established in Northern Ireland, and Barrie Wills, Purchasing Manager, visited Italdesign . Giorgetto Giugiaro showed them his latest concept design, the Ace of Clubs. He pointed out that its four-year-old design was outdated and needed an overhaul. He recommended that the sharp edges should be rounded and various peculiarities of the Ace of Clubs should be incorporated. It was agreed that the right-hand side of the model would remain unchanged, while the left-hand side would be modified using recommended design changes. Bennington then only had to convince DeLorean of the necessary changes. The revised model was presented to him in April 1979 and the revised design was approved allowing it to go into production in 1980.
DeLorean added two more years to the development until it was ready for the market and launched. So, he approached Porsche and asked for the development to be ready for series production. However, Porsche refused on the grounds that it would take at least five years to develop the vehicle; the project could not be seriously carried out in the time frame specified by DeLorean. As a sole proprietor with full liability, DeLorean was under increasing pressure. He had to develop his hitherto immature concept into a marketable, attractive product. The only automobile manufacturer who finally wanted to take on the DSV in the allotted time was Colin Chapman and his British company Lotus.
In 1977 and 1978, 200 employees worked there at times to develop the DeLorean to the point where it was ready for series production. The previous technical development by Bill Collins was largely abandoned, Collins himself gave up and resigned in early 1979. Lotus developed a completely different chassis, which essentially corresponded to that of the Lotus Esprit: a front and rear forked central tube frame made of (non-stainless) sheet steel. The "tines" are connected at the ends by crossbeams. The tank sits at the front in the triangles formed as a result, and the rear frame triangle accommodates the engine. The front wheels with rack and pinion steering are on double wishbones suspended, a central link axle is installed at the rear, i.e., the wheel carrier is supported on the frame with a jib pointing forward at an angle and is guided laterally by two wishbones.
All that remained of DeLorean's idea was Giugiaro's body shape, the gullwing doors and the stainless steel-clad plastic body. The decision to adapt the technical backbone of the DeLorean to that of the Esprit is generally justified today with the short time available to Lotus for the technical development: an independent construction of the DeLorean chassis would hardly have been possible in less than two years.
Indeed, Lotus achieved the almost impossible and developed the “new” DeLorean in just two years. However, this also left little time to correct errors and foreseeable teething problems in the car. So, the project was oriented even more closely to the Lotus Esprit.
The vehicle that Lotus ultimately presented could hardly be regarded as a sports car in the true sense of the word. With a weight of around 1.3 t and 97 kW (132 hp) in the catalytic converter version, it was far behind the performance of competitive models such as the Corvette or the Ferrari. For many potential customers, that was not enough for such an expensive vehicle.
The reserved temperament was not least due to the economically sensible, but ultimately unfortunate decision to go for the 2.8-litre PRV six- cylinder (V engine) with Renault transmission, which began its long career in the large limousines from Peugeot, Renault and Volvo had started. With its streamlined body shape, the DMC-12 reached a top speed of 200 km/h. Because of US law at the time, the car's speedometer only showed speeds up to 85 mph (140 km/h).
In January 1981, series production of the DMC-12 began in Dunmurry near Belfast in British Northern Ireland. On January 21 of the same year, the first unit of the DeLorean rolled off the assembly line. The new DMC plant was funded almost entirely by UK Government grants, which further strengthened the IRA wanted to prevent by bringing down the high unemployment rate in Northern Ireland. Before the start of series production, two cars had been manufactured and tested for a total of just 60,000 miles to pass the US emissions test. However, this effort was too small to track down all possible defects and rectify errors before the start of series production. The fact that DeLorean nevertheless started production was due to the growing pressure from its investors and dealers, who finally wanted to make money after six years of waiting.
The production vehicles suffered from fluctuating product quality early on. Consistent gap dimensions could not be expected, since the fiberglass pans that the car is actually made of were produced with relatively large tolerances. The necessary manual adjustment and alignment of the cladding panels was therefore not easy.
Again, and again the gullwing doors gave cause for complaint. Although they required an unrivalled amount of space to open, they were, above all, too heavy. They were made of stainless steel and contained electric motors for the window regulators, which only opened a tiny gap in the window area, because the door was too rounded to sink the entire pane into it. With the magnetic switches of the central locking and the linkage of the door locking, the door mechanism was very difficult to adjust, which is why the wing doors often jammed or leaked after a while. Correctly adjusted doors with new gas springs however, they usually work properly. Conventional swing doors rely purely on gas springs. The door has to be lifted to open, and when closing, the doors can cause painful injuries if they slip out of the way of the passenger. A torsion spring was therefore installed in the DeLorean in addition to the gas pressure spring, so that the door swings open when opened without external force.
The temperature sensor-controlled engine fan system was vulnerable, resulting in engine overheating. Air conditioning systems that worked the first time were rare, although it has now been found that most original systems can still be used today if properly maintained and refilled.
At the latest when DeLorean had production of the DMC-12 doubled in 1981 in order to appear as a successful businessman when the new parent company DMH (DeLorean Motor Holding) was going public, the project began to collapse because demand was already lower than production. Several hundred DMC-12 were stockpiled in Belfast. When the British government refused to inject any more money into the venture and DeLorean was arrested while attempting to raise additional funds through a cocaine deal, DMC went bankrupt. DeLorean was in the deal with a DEA agent and was acquitted in court in the US for their involvement, but would have faced an embezzlement trial in the UK, which would have landed him in prison there. Together with Colin Chapman, he had embezzled $17.5 million in investor funds that he had put into other ventures and his lavish lifestyle. Since Chapman died in December 1982, he could no longer be charged. However, his chief financial officer, Fred Bushell, went to prison for three years for involvement in the crime.
Because DeLorean stubbornly refused after the bankruptcy of DMC to transfer at least the worldwide distribution rights for his sports car, which he had secured from the beginning, so that she could continue to exist with a new investor in small volume, she finally had to be liquidated, causing 2,500 employees to lose their jobs.
After the closure of the Dunmurry factory, all metal parts of the manufacturing plant, including the pressing tools, were auctioned off to the highest bidder. Part of this went to a scrap dealer who sold the pressing tools used to make the left front fender and right rear quarter panel to a fishing company. This used them off the Irish coast in the Atlantic as ballast for the nets of their fish farms. As a result, these two body parts are extremely rare today and correspondingly expensive. A large part of the bankruptcy estate was auctioned off by former employees, who from then on dealt with the maintenance of the vehicles and the supply of spare parts.
At the end of 1982, a few DMC-12 models were assembled from the vehicle parts that had been manufactured up to that point. These vehicles are also referred to as 1983 models. Ironically, shortly after the arrest of the company's founder, the DMC-12 suddenly experienced enormous popularity. A run on the remaining vehicles began, which briefly drove up the selling prices to over 50,000 dollars.
For Christmas 1981, two vehicles were commissioned by credit card company American Express and electroplated with gold. On Christmas Eve 1982, the last vehicle was assembled from the remaining gilded parts. However, one door had to be gilded later and is still recognizable today by the different colour tone. All three vehicles are located in the USA: One is in the National Automobile Museum in Reno (VIN 4300, brown interior, 5-speed transmission), the second in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles (VIN 4301, black interior, automatic transmission, too known as the wagon from the bank in Snyder, Texas) and the last built is privately owned in Maryland (VIN 20105, brown interior, automatic transmission). There are rumours of a fourth specimen being gilded by a private individual. The DMC-12 were not painted as the outer skin is unpainted stainless steel.DMC-12s were primarily intended for the American market despite being produced in Northern Ireland. All production models were therefore left-hand drive. Evidence survives from as early as April 1981, however, which indicates that the DeLorean Motor Company was aware of the need to produce a right-hand drive version to supply to world markets such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Film and TV.
The DMC-12 became a legend is thanks to its appearance in the film trilogy Back to the Future, through which it later achieved fame. In this film, a fictional nuclear reactor works in the back of the car alongside the internal combustion engine, providing energy for the " flux compensator " that enables time travel. In the fictional future, the nuclear reactor is later replaced by the fusion reactor "Mr. Fusion". The real-life flopped DMC-12 came to filmmakers Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg Just right: At the beginning of the work on the film in 1984, it was still little known worldwide, looked very futuristic due to its extremely flat wedge shape and the stainless-steel surface and was also cheap to get, because several vehicles were still on the heap. In one of the first CGI film effects, the company " Industrial Light and Magic " founded by George Lucas even made the car fly for the screen. With the success of the trilogy, the DeLorean achieved iconic status.
De Lorean DMC 12 in Barry Munday, Movie with Malcolm McDowell from 2010
Several DeLorean DMC-12s can also be seen in the Miami Vice episode In the Swamps from 1984 (original title Glades). In 1998 's The Wedding Singer starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, her fiancé also drives a DeLorean and the car radio plays the Miami Vice theme.
In the series Matlock, Ben Matlock's neighbour is suspected of murder because he let the murdered car dealer sell him a junk DeLorean.
In the film Rocky 3, Sylvester Stallone poses in the DeLorean
De Lorean DMC-12 Wheeler Dealers Series 8
DeLorean’s can also be found in films such as Police Academy, Beverly Hills Cop and The Cooked Scoundrel III.
De Lorean DMC 12 in Arthur, Movie with Russell Brand from 2011
De Lorean DMC 12 in Ashes to Ashes, TV Series from 2008 to 2010.
In the second part of the first season of the British television series Ashes to Ashes, George Bonds drives police officer Alex Drake to the station in a DeLorean. The episode takes place in London in 1981.