Back To The Future 4, The story of the DeLorean Motor Company is as multi-faceted as the face of a diamond. John Zachary DeLorean was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1925 and rose through the ranks of new-age car designers. A short, one-year stint at Chrysler was followed by an another brief tenure with Packard Motor Car Company before DeLorean found his niche at General Motors in 1956 as Director of Advance Engineering for the Pontiac Division.
Promoted to chief engineer of Pontiac in 1961, DeLorean oversaw many of the division’s engineering innovations, including the Wide Track Pontiac principle, overhead-cam six-cylinder engines, concealed windshield wipers, hidden windshield antenna and the Endura bumper. He spear-headed development of the Pontiac Tempest LeMans, which later became the platform for the GTO muscle car, and introduced both the Pontiac Firebird and Grand Prix models as well as the little Vega economy car.
Despite all these accomplishments, DeLorean felt he had more to offer and resigned from his position as Vice-president of General Motors in 1973. Seen by many as a charismatic maverick in the conservative auto industry, his vision was to create a sports car like no other — one that performed well, with good handling and superior stopping power, and built on a frame and body that would never rust.
DeLorean’s dream of an ethical sports car also promised a measure of economy with low emissions. It was a tall order, but with that mandate the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was born.
When a prototype was unveiled in October, 1976, many panned the car’s boxy styling as lacklustre and rated the V6 engine as underpowered. Yet the notion of a gullwing two-seat sports car, wrapped in stainless steel, still showed great potential. With many celebrity backers, DeLorean opened a plant in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, in 1979 and began production of his DMC-12 sports car two years later.
The dream ended in late 1982 with the plant in bankruptcy after producing just 9,000 cars. But the DMC-12 later became a hit in the 1985 movie Back To The Future, when it was portrayed as Doc Brown’s “88 mile-per-hour time machine.
For Ron Knight and his wife Barb from Selkirk, the movie’s release was a memorable addition to their wedding the same year. “After seeing the movie I said, ‘One of these days I’m gonna buy one of those’,” Knight said.
While it took a while for that day to come, an eBay online auction in 2011 led Knight to a DMC-12 in British Columbia. After many phone calls and plenty of photos, Knight purchased the car and had it shipped to Winnipeg.
A completely original car in excellent condition, the DeLorean is powered by a 2.8-litre V6 engine mounted in the rear, giving the DMC-12 a 35/65 per cent front/rear weight distribution for better handling. The “Douvrin” engine was developed by PRV and was also used in several Peugeot, Renault and Volvo models. Naturally aspirated, it produces 130 horsepower and is backed by an automatic transmission.
The epoxy-coated wishbone frame was designed by Lotus, as was the fiberglass inner body structure that holds the non-structural, brushed stainless-steel body panels in place. The rust-free car was what DeLorean was after, and Knight says clean-up requires only dish soap, stainless cleaner and Scotch-Brite pads for the problem areas.
Inside, the Delorean is a true 1980s vehicle with mostly flat linear surfaces and the black leather upholstery. Black or grey leather were the choices offered, and the only other option was either a5-speed manual gearbox or anautomatic transmission. There’s also an AM/FM cassette stereo, power windows, power door locks, power rack-and-pinion steering and four-wheel power disc brakes. Wheels are cast aluminium utilizing 14X6-inch units in front and 15X8-inch in the rear, shod with Goodyear steel-belted radials.
With its movie-star heritage, the DeLorean is one of the most recognized vehicles in history and attracts a lot of attention.
“You have to have a lot of time and can’t be in a hurry — it’s a unique vehicle and quite the conversation piece,” Knight said
About 6,500 DeLoreans are believed to still exist, and replacement parts are easy to come by since the entire stock of remaining parts was purchased from the factory before it closed.
There’s even a company that will build your DMC-12 into an exact replica of the Back To The Future movie car, complete with a Flux-Capacitor. Now all we need to find is that 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.