DeLorean DMC12

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DeLorean DMC12

1981 - 1983
2.85 liter
130 bhp
3 spd. auto / 5 spd. man
Top Speed:
Number Built:
5 star
Most famous for its role in the "Back to the Future" movies, the story of the DeLorean Motor Company is almost as far fetched as the movies in which it was to later feature in.

John DeLorean got his start in the automobile business at Packard in the 1950's and was recruited by Pontiac in 1959. A rising star at Pontiac, DeLorean was involved in the creation of perhaps their greatest success, the GTO; By the end of the 1960's, DeLorean was running Pontiac, and sales had risen from 6th to 3rd, behind only Chevrolet and Ford.

With Ford showing sales gains, DeLorean was moved to manage the Chevrolet division in 1970, and by 1973, Chevrolet had its first ever annual sales of more than 3 million cars and trucks.

With Chevrolet now doing well, DeLorean was promoted to a $650,000 per year position as the vice president of all North American Car and Truck divisions. DeLorean was tipped to be GM's next president, however he resigned shortly thereafter.

By 1975, plans were afoot for what DeLorean described as an "ethical" sports car, that used radical new materials and manufacturing techniques, with safety features not offered by any manufacturer at that time including fitting airbags as standard.

Giugiaro, designer of cars such as the Lotus Esprit was enlisted to design DeLorean's sports car. Funding was still required, and while each DeLorean dealer paid $25,000, the bulk was to come from the state or country that would be the base of the manufacturing plant.

Sites as far apart as Texas and Puerto Rico were considered, but the British government's combination of loans, grants and tax waivers of over $100 million dollars would put the factory in Belfast, Northern Ireland and bring needed jobs to the area.

In 1979, John DeLorean was very close to a deal with Porsche to engineer his sports car, but Porsche stipulated a four year development time. This was unrealistic due to the timetable set up with the British government. When Colin Chapman and Lotus agreed to perform the task in 18 months (it would slip to 25 months), a deal was struck.

To meet this timetable, several of the new technologies planned were put on hold, and only the stainless steel body, gullwing doors and rear-engine design were carried over from the first prototypes. The production cars, sold in the United States from early 1981, often sold at far over the screen price of $25,000.

DeLorean's have a fiberglass body tub to which the stainless steel panels are bolted and a mild steel chassis which has an resin coating to protect against rust. They are typically (and originally) powered by a Peugeot/Renault/Volvo 2.85 liter V6 engine that produces 130bhp with either a three-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. Grey and black leather trim were the only interior options offered on the regular production cars.

In 1982 the problems finally became too much and the factory closed down. After the closure of the factory in Dunmurray, near Belfast, the remaining parts and partially completed cars were sold at auction for whatever they would fetch. The British government destroyed several million pounds worth of body dies, effectively ensuring that no more DeLoreans could ever be made. DeLoreans were produced from 1981 to 1982, with production totals of 6,539, 1126 and 918 respectively (total (8,583). Approximately 6,000 are believed to still exist, the majority are in the USA with a few hundred scattered round the world.

All vehicles were in unpainted stainless steel, with the exception of the two gold-plated cars sold by American Express for $85,000 each (one in a bank in Texas and the other at a car museum) - one is for sale, if you have $175,000 going spare! However, it is quite unique, it has never been driven, had fuel put in its tank or even been started.

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John DeLorean
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