1981 - 1983
|3 spd. auto / 5 spd.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.