What makes an ordinary car memorable in a movie? Could it be that outrageous car chase throughout the city or maybe it’s that million dollar heist or maybe even that mind-boggling time-travel? To many movie goers, once an object, person, or place has become an important part of a film, the individual creates a memory with this symbolic object. The epic movie saga of Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and their DeLorean DMC-12 will go down as one of the most famous movies of all time. As a young kid growing up and watching the Back to the Future series, seeing Doc Brown use his scientific know-how to get those 1.21 jigawats of electricity to blast Marty to the past is something that will always give me a feeling of excitement when I see this vehicle. Immortalized in the movie series Back to the Future, the DeLorean DMC-12 will never be forgotten by many movie and car enthusiasts around the world.
Many have wondered where did the DeLorean brand come from. John DeLorean was known as an established name in the automotive industry as an engineer, innovator, and a business executive in General Motors. He had left General Motors to form his own automobile company known as DeLorean Motor Company (DMC). In October of 1976, the prototype was completed by William Colins, chief engineer and designer (formerly of Pontiac). Originally the vehicle was suppose to have a mid-mounted engine but instead the engine was moved to the rear. The engine was intended for the vehicle was a Citrogen Wankel rotary engine but instead a Peugeut Renault Volvo V-6 engine was selected. The chassis was originally used with DeLorean ERM(elastic reservoir moulding), which was used to lower productions costs. But using their system was found to be unsuitable for the vehicle. The vehicle had been internally overhauled by Colin Chapman of Lotus Motor Company. The vehicle kept it’s original skin that was developed by the famous automotive designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro.
A factory started construction in Dunmurry, Ireland near Belfast in October of 1978. The production was suppose to start in 1979 but was delayed until early 1981 due to engineering and budget problems. The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late of 1982 due to John DeLorean’s arrest on drug trafficking charges in October. He was found to be not guilty, however, the company had stopped production of the vehicle. Only 9,200 vehicles were produced between January of 1981 and December of 1982.
The DeLorean DMC-12 was unlike anything else on the road for its time. There was many features of the vehicle that were not normal for your average car in the 1980s or even today. The three main components that many people have come to know about the DeLorean are the stainless steel body panels, gull-wing doors, and the rear mounted engine.
The body was made out of stainless steel panels that were not painted. They did not come out of the factory painted, many individuals did paint their vehicle afterwards. There was no such things as scratches as you could always use a scouring pad that would be able to take out them out. Many would not be able to fix significant damages on the DMC-12 to stainless steel panels like traditional vehicles that would use Bondo or filler to smooth out the damages. DeLorean figured that one would replace panels rather than repair.
The gull-wing doors are something that everyone always wonders how the doors are able to keep working properly due to weights issues. There was a lot of research done to insure that the doors would be able to function properly. The torsion bars were actually developed by the Grumman Aerospace to withstand the weight. Most people think that it would take a lot of space to open the doors, however, surprisingly only 11 inches were needed.
There are not many average vehicles out there that has a rear mounted engine. If you haven’t realized the DeLorean was a vehicle that was unique. John DeLorean had envisioned the original DeLorean to have at least 200 horsepower. Many people were rather disappointed by the DMC-12’s performance. The European model produced 150 horsepower and the American version produced 20 horsepower less due to emission regulations set by the government. The vehicle came with a standard manual transmission and to opt for the automatic was an extra $650. The retail price was originally set at $12,000 due to the DMC-12 name, but the actual retail price was set at $25,000. It was known by many that the price could actually go for $10,000 more than the retail price because of the high demand.
To this day, there around 6,000 vehicles still in existence out of the 9,000 that were produced. Many DeLorean enthusiasts are very active in the community as well as car clubs. In 2007, DMC emerged from Humble, TX, not affiliated with the original DeLorean Motor Company, as rebuilds of the original vehicle. There is a limited production each year. In 2011, it was announced that they would produce an electric DeLorean known as the DMC EV that would be built in 2013. It is expected to have about a 100 mile range with approximately 200 horsepower and a 0-60 miles in around 8 seconds.
The Back to the Future movie series and the DeLorean DMC-12 go hand in hand with each other. As time goes on, the DMC-12 is still not forgotten to this day. Even though, the original DeLorean Motor Company is not in existence, there are still many enthusiasts that are still embracing the vehicle and developing opportunities to keep the vehicle alive in their own way. The DeLorean Motor Company of Humble, TX is paying homage DeLorean DMC-12 keeping the vehicle alive one reproduction at a time. Enthusiasts will continue to support the DeLorean name and keep this special vehicle around for generations to come.
Here a video of a memorable Back to the Future scene with the DeLorean:
Photos courtesy of motorauthority.com, delorean.com, and motoring.com.
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