Best known for producing the ill-fated Delorean DMC 12 Sports car, American Car Manufacturer John DeLorean sadly passed away on 19th March 2005. Production of the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 sports car began in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland in 1981. The DeLorean DMC-12 was manufactured by the DeLorean Motor Company for the American market in 1981-82. Featuring gull-wing doors with a fiberglass underbody, to which non-structural brushed stainless steel panels are affixed, the car became iconic for the appearance of a modified version as a time machine in the Back to the Future film trilogy.
The first prototype appeared in October 1976, and production officially began in 1981 in Dunmurry, a suburb of south west Belfast, Northern Ireland. During its production, several features of the car were changed, such as the hood style, wheels and interior. In October 1976, the first prototype DeLorean DMC-12 was completed by William T. Collins, chief engineer and designer (formerly chief engineer at Pontiac). The body design of the DMC-12 was a product of Giorgetto Giugiaro of Ital Design and the car was Originally, intended to have a centrally-mounted Citroën/NSU Comotor Wankel rotary engine. The engine selection was reconsidered when Comotor production ended, and the favored engine became Ford’s “Clogne V6.” Eventually the French/Swedish PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) fuel injected V6, was selected. Also the engine location moved from the mid-engined location in the prototype to a rear-engined installation in the production car.
The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as Elastic Reservoir Moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. However This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable. So Engineering was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder and owner of Lotus. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus. The backbone chassis is very similar to that of the Lotus Esprit. The original Giorgetto Giugiaro body design was left mostly intact, as were the distinctive stainless steel outer skin panels and gull-wing doors. DeLorean required $175 million to develop and build the motor company. DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighborhood a few miles from Belfast city center. Construction on the factory began in October 1978, and although production of the DMC-12 was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981.
Hollywood celebrities such as Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr also invested in the firm and The DMC-12 also appears in the Back to the Future film trilogy. The PRV engines of the cars were dubbed over with recorded V8 sounds. Six DeLorean chassis were used during the production, along with one manufactured out of fiberglass for scenes where a full-size DeLorean was needed to “fly” on-screen; only three of the cars still exist, with one having been destroyed at the end of Back to the Future Part III. Universal Studios owns two of the remaining cars, and the last resides in a private collection after having been extensively restored.
Sadly though all this endorsement was not enough to save the company and The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 following John DeLorean’s arrest in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production. and the company went into liquidation. Approximately 9,000 DMC-12s were made before production halted in late 1982 and about 100 partially assembled DMCs on the production line were completed by Consolidated International (now known as Big Lots). Overall just 9,200 DMC-12s were produced between January 1981 and December 1982 Almost a fifth of these were produced in October 1981. As of 2007, about 6,500 DeLorean Motor cars were believed to still exist. In 1995 Texas entrepreneur Stephen Wynne started a separate company using the “DeLorean Motor Company” name and shortly thereafter acquired the trademark on the stylized “DMC” logo as well as the remaining parts inventory of the original DeLorean Motor Company.