The Story of... the fall and rise of DeLorean

Have you ever thought of buying a newly built 25-year-old car? This may sound like a contradiction, but that's exactly what you can get if you visit the DeLorean Motor Company in Texas, US.

In 1997, Steve Wynne - originally from Liverpool, UK - bought the DeLorean name and has ever-since been rebuilding examples of his beloved car, the DMC-12, with parts left over from when its production stopped in 1982.

Today, the DMC-12 remains one of the most distinctive cars of the 1980s. But key to appreciating the DeLorean DMC-12 is understanding the story surrounding its production, which lasted for little over a year.

John DeLorean photographed with the DMC-12
John DeLorean photographed with
the DMC-12

The brainchild of the late John DeLorean, formerly behind the Pontiac GTO and a respected designer at General Motors, his car entered the market with massive hype and mixed reviews.

Because of the hype, DeLoreans in 1981 could be bought for the same amounts spent on a Porsche or a Ferrari, while bystanders marvelled at its stainless steel bodywork and futuristic gull-wing doors.

At the same time, the critics were less taken. Some said the DeLorean's 130 bhp Peugeot-Renault-Volvo engine was underpowered - although fans counter that its light 1.2 tonnes weight made up for it.

DeLorean was sure that his baby would be a success, and the DeLorean Motor Company stocked up on parts, enough for around 500 cars.

This 1976 DeLorean DMC-12 origional prototype sold for $110,000 at RM
Auctions. The doors, nose and wheels were modified on later models

But this had all changed by 1982. Production of the DMC-12 was spluttering to a halt, DeLorean's company faced bankruptcy and infamy would for a long time be attached to the DeLorean name.

The reasons had nothing to do with the car itself. In October 1982, John DeLorean was arrested on drug trafficking charges. Although he was later found not guilty, it was too late for the DMC-12.

One-hundred or so partially assembled DeLoreans were completed by another company, Consolidated International... and then production fizzled out.

Today, the DeLorean's legacy endures. It was a singular and remarkable automobile, for sure - but it also has Hollywood to thank for its fame and notoriety.

Not long after the controversy surrounding John DeLorean, film company Amblin Entertainment was producing a movie about time travel titled Back To The Future.

The filmmakers had decided their time machine would be a car, and the script required a car that could be mistaken for a spacecraft. The DMC-12, with its stainless steel bodywork and head-turning gull-wing doors, was an ideal candidate - and subsequently landed itself a starring Hollywood role.

Today, Back To The Future is among the pantheon of classic 1980s films while its featured DeLorean time machine is iconic in the science fiction genre.

Meanwhile, Stephen Wynne's DeLorean company is able to produce two "new" DeLoreans each month.

This 1981 DMC-12 sold for $23,100 at auction, in 2007

The company is also in the business of restoration, capable of replacing up to 80% of damaged parts and restoring old DeLorean rust buckets to their bygone circa-1981 glory.

It is thought that around 9,000 DMC-12's were made during its initial production lifespan, of which 6,500 still exist today - which cements this unique car's status as a collectible.

Interested collectors can acquire a DeLorean for around $57,500 or as little as $20,000, while a souped-up version can sell for as much as $63,350.


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