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Hello everyone! The automobile we are going to tell you about today had been produced in a very short period of time. Nevertheless, it has become a cult vehicle for several generations. It had no outstanding performance; still, it is widely regarded as a masterpiece of automotive industry of the time. Having this model no commercial success and little popularity, almost everybody in the world knows its name, and even those who have little interest in cars. After weighing up the pros and cons, we can declare with confidence that this babe has the full right to be called legendary.
Yes, this is the DeLorean from the movie “Back to the Future.”
Naturally, the creator of this original automobile was a unique person – John Zachary DeLorean. He can be considered one of the brightest and most mysterious figures in the automotive industry.
Living James Bond, isn’t he?
Born in the family of Romanian immigrant, DeLorean was obsessed with cars from an early age. His father worked at the Ford plant in Detroit. Seeing his son craving for automobiles, he bought him a Ford Model T, the legendary Tin Lizzie (Remember, we wrote about this automobile in the previous article?). The boy could study automobile design and structure all day long.
Should have been like this :)
Children hobbies had a great effect in John’s adulthood. DeLorean carved out a breath-taking career. In twenty years he rose from an engineer at Chrysler plants to the youngest vice-president of the concern in the history of General Motors. DeLorean used to bring in something new interesting and original in any of his projects. During his tenure at GM, he participated in the creation of such legendary cars as Tempest and Pontiac GTO.
Pontiac GTO and James Bond. Sorry, John DeLorean!
DeLorean was very close to the automotive Olympus, but fate decreed otherwise. In April 1973, out of the blue he left the corporation. DeLorean explained that he became tired and decided to “retire General Motors from his life”. This news gave rise to many rumors: some people said that DeLorean turned out to be dishonest and committed various financial frauds, other were sure that the talented and ambitious engineer, who was feeling free to live in a big way, had a lot of enemies who finally managed to drive him out from the company.
After retiring from GM DeLorean returns to his old idea – building a rear-engine sports car. In 1975, he registered his own company – DeLorean Motors.
The appearance of the future sports car was entrusted to a well-known automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro and DeLorean’s colleague on Pontiac William Collins. DeLorean insisted only on one point – the automobile should have “gull-wing” doors, the same as legendary Mercedes 300SL Gullwing had.
(You can find this car in our store)
The draft of the future DMC-12 was made in the original Giugiaro style – an aerodynamic wedge-shaped silhouette with short rear overhang.
DeLorean decided to assemble the car of his dreams in Northern Ireland and not in America. The reason for this decision was very simple: the British government set out to allocate the credit to the young company with the condition of creating 2,500 jobs in the most troubled region of the United Kingdom. In 1978 DeLorean Motors began construction of the factory in the suburbs of Belfast.
By this time two prototypes of the future DMC-12 were already built. During road tests in the autumn of 1980 test cars created a furor. Futuristic silhouette, spectacular doors and shiny metal body attracted crowds of onlookers.
The body was made from a reliable composite; 1 mm sheets of stainless steel were fixed above. Such design was durable and impervious to corrosion. It became the main feature of DMC-12. It is considered that there is no other stock car made of stainless steel in the world. This is quite logical, because stainless steel 5 times more expensive than conventional materials used in automotive industry. But such impracticality for the sake of quality and design is very much in the spirit of the 80s, the same that Apple does today with computers :)
An unusual type of the doors sparked off a joke that it is impossible to get out of DMC-12, if you park it close to another vehicle. In fact, 35 cm are enough for these doors to open, and it is much less than with ordinary doors.
Spacious interior, anatomical seats and good sound insulation made the drive in DMC-12 very comfortable. Rear wheels had larger diameter than the front ones, giving the automobile a special charm and distinguishing it from other cars of the time. Polished to a mirror finish steel body of DMC-12 became an object of worship for those motorists who wanted to attract attention.
However, despite the promising appearance, DMC-12 could hardly be called a real sports car. The way the most supercars have, the engine was located at the rear of the vehicle, but its power, that had to be reduced due to a restrictions entered in those years in the USA, were only 130 hp. Evidently, this wasn’t enough for DMC-12 to be called a sports car. Maneuverability of the automobile also left much to be desired.
The first DMC-12 was produced January 21st, 1981. The model received an excellent support and approval, although it was already clear that the company was in a very difficult financial situation because of the huge incidental expenses.
Despite the spectacular appearance the quality of the vehicle was obviously lame because of unqualified personnel – those years Northern Ireland had a very high unemployment rate and the company had to hire to work at the factory even those people who didn’t have the necessary expertise. With time they managed to raise the quality of the vehicles, but DeLorean had already lost credibility in the eyes of customers. Besides, the price on the automobile was high enough for a low-quality assembly.
Of course, all this didn’t cause a great demand. Meanwhile, investors wanted repayments of credits and the company acquired a lot of debts. The situation got even worse when, in October 1982, John DeLorean appeared in court on charges of drug trafficking.
Bitter tongues were ready to bite. They asserted that DeLorean, desperate to attract the necessary funds to the company, was forced to sell cocaine. Given a riotous lifestyle of the eminent engineer, it was highly possible. However, this unpleasant story could have another explanation. Before retiring from General Motors Company DeLorean decided to reveal all internal strife of the company and published a book dedicated to the internecine wars. Most likely the case of drug trafficking had become a kind of revenge for the expose the management of the automobile giant took on DeLorean.
The trial lasted one and a half years. It was found that the case was fabricated, and DeLorean was acquitted of all charges. But his reputation was already tarnished. Investors withdrew their money, banks were refusing to lend, the government stopped funding. Production was stopped and DeLorean had to close the factory. The company declared bankrupt and the project was doomed.
DMC-12 has become synonymous with DeLorean, since it remains the only automobile that is manufactured by DMC. Only about 9,000 cars was produced during three years. When the factory was closed around 2000 DeLoreans were left gathering dust in warehouses without the slightest chance to be bought. John DeLorean lost everything he had. Talented engineer and far-out adventurer was buried under his wrecked dreams.
But, eventually, the automobile got the recognition and became a true celebrity all over the world. How did it happened and where you can buy a DeLorean today read in our next article! And while you’ll be waiting for the continuation, we suggest that you have a good look at DMC-12 in our 360° viewer.
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