Wednesday August 3, 2016
26th October 1985, does the date ring any bells?
How about the downtown mall in the fictional town of Hill Valley, California, No… A futuristic car streaks across the mall car park and, as the speedo hits 88mph the vehicle is surrounded by bright, flashing, light and then vanishes into thin air, leaving a trail of flaming elevens in its wake!
By now the majority of you will realise that I can only be talking about one car, the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 from the 1980’s blockbuster ‘Back to the Future’.
When Robert Zemeckis cast the DeLorean as the automotive star of the film, he probably never quite imagined what an impact his choice would have on so many fans and also that it would eclipse the film’s acting star, Michael J Fox. Whilst the popularity of ‘Back to the Future’ brought the DeLorean to the attention of a new audience, it was scant consolation to the manufacturer as they were declared bankrupt in late 1982. Had the film been made a few years earlier, maybe the outcome would have been different!
The story of the DeLorean goes all the way back to 1976 and was the brainchild of ex-General Motors engineer, John DeLorean, who had major financial backing from a number of celebrities. It took a further 5 years of development with the first car rolling of the production line on January 21 1981, at the DeLorean Motor Company factory in a little town in Belfast, called Dunmurry.
So what makes the DeLorean stand out from the crowd? First is its futuristic design, courtesy of legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, which for the early 1980’s could quite easily have come back in time from 2015. Secondly the body was made of brushed stainless steel, which was unheard of in1981 and finally came the distinctive ‘Gullwing’ doors.
Its power came from a 2.8Litre V6 engine, provided by Renault and had a claimed 0-60 time of 8.8 seconds, which would seem a little pedestrian give its almost spaceship appearance.
Here are a few interesting facts on the DeLorean:
- It was called the DMC-12 because of its intended sale price of $12,000, although the suggested retail price in 1981 was $25,000, with some owners willing to pay up to $10,000 more due to long waiting lists
- Evidence has appeared to show that the original name for the DMC-12 was due to be called the ‘Z Tavio’
- There were only 2 factory options available, an automatic transmission for $650 & the choice of black or grey interior
- DeLorean tested a twin-turbo prototype version that was quicker than a Ferrari 308 & a Porsche 928
- For those who weren’t satisfied with the look of the standard model, how about 24 carat gold model! Only 2 were sold, at a cost of $85,000. There are known to be just 4 gold Deloreans in existence today.
In October 1982 John DeLorean was arrested on drug trafficking charges and, although he was later acquitted, it was too late for the DeLorean Motor Company which went bankrupt, with a production run spanning just 3 years and some 9,000 cars.
I for one think that this is a real shame. John DeLorean was a visionary, creating a masterpiece that was way ahead of its time and, if he’d had the opportunity, who knows what his follow up to the DMC-12 would have been? Maybe it would have had a flux capacitor, Mr Fusion and even been able fly… This might sound just a bit too far-fetched but we may not have too much longer to wait for the answer as the new DeLorean Motor Company have announced that they will be producing 300 DMC-12’s at the end of this year and ‘New’ DMC-12’s at the beginning of 2017.
Whilst we don’t yet know the design of the new model, we hope the ‘future’ will be bright for this icon of the road and big screen!