My childhood heroes are not Superman or Batman – I was born in the ’80s and grew up in the 90’s, where the main obsession was Back to the Future or the famous Knight Riders – KITT. Yes, those are my childhood heroes, and I am going to tell you a story about the first one – the TIME MACHINE – ladies and gents, DeLorean DMC- 12.
The DeLorean brand was born in 1975 at the hands of John DeLorean, former chief in GM. But the same person who created the magical stainless steel car was the one who killed the brand with his bad habits and great love for alcohol So, in 1982, after only 13 years of “life”, the company declared bankruptcy, leaving the only model the company ever built.. orphan! But the DMC-12 was “tough” as steel (because his was built using lots of steel, in fact).
It took 5 years from the original prototype – in 1976 – until the moment the first DMC-12 strolled out the factory doors. Although the company origins were American, the car was entirely produced in Belfast, Northern Ireland, because of the cheap labor they found there and not only for this – the British government invested (technically, it was more of a loan than an investment) around 100 million $ in building the factory in Belfast – all this to create more than 2,000 jobs on a market where the unemployment rate was over 20%. But unfortunately, DMC-12 was a complete flop for the DeLorean Motor Company, which went ruin one year after – in 1982, leaving almost 9,000 actual owners “orphans”.
This car was planned to be something different from the beginning – designed by the same person who put his trademark stamp on the famous Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint GT, Lotus Esprit – Giorgetto Giugiaro – the new DMC-12 was intended to innovate the automobilists scene. Featuring a fantastic look, gullwing doors, aluminum-steel body parts, and a central-rear engine, that switched from the original idea (a Comotor Wankel rotary engine) to another one, a V6 PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo), which lasted till the end of the production.
But what’s special about the DeLorean is not the family or history, but its construction -based on the Lotus Esprit, the “little” DMC-12 was built using stainless steel as the main material, to avoid the rust issue, everything mounted on a fiber-glass underbody. Another unique quality is that the DeLorean keeps the original unpainted stainless steel – that’s why almost all of them were grey ( i say “almost” because we have also the Gold edition – where the body panels were plated with 24k Gold). But this characteristic was a “pain in the ass” for the bodyworkers – it’s not easy to regain the initial form of the stainless steel material after a crash or bump, also because the body is unpainted, and the restoration requires great skills and experience – this is why John DeLorean planned to have those panels rather replaced than repaired. But that was at the beginning when John didn’t think about bankruptcy or where his company was headed.
Stainless steel body and gullwing doors – two iconic features that convinced 9,200 DeLorean owners that this is the car built especially for them. Although the starting price was initially set up around 12,000 $ (this is also the origin of the “12” from the name of the car – DMC-12), the car was finally sold at more than 26,000 $, more than double the original price.
Thus it’s a bold and heavy car, still looks like a UFO and still a rare one, the DeLorean DMC-12 keeps its own quelque chose – its own beauty and personality – doesn’t matter what happened behind the curtains, we must not forget we are talking about history and originality, and about somebody who had the courage to stand up from the crowd and launched a different product on the market – and we must admire that.