Hearing something in the lines of stainless-steel body, wing-like doors and a rear-mounted engine takes us back to the old days of the DeLorean. If you have followed the classic ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy, no doubt you get the picture.
Is the DeLorean making a comeback?
The DMC DeLorean had a short production stint, lasting only for about two years. The car now fetches a price point of above $30,000, owing to its film status. Since 2016, there have been various reports suggesting a new DMC-12 was on the way. A while back, DMC VP James Espey revealed that the company is laying down plans for a limited production of the car.
The news came after the Congress' positive take on the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act. The Act allows manufacturers to recreate (up to 325 units) some of the old (at least 25 years old) cars. Keeping this in mind, expect to see some of the old vehicles hitting the roads soon.
More on that after a bit of history.
In pursuit of his dream to create a comfortable, classy sports car, John DeLorean left GM in 1973. He wanted to start and run his own business and achieved exactly that when he established the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC).
Unfortunately, things didn’t turn as he expected. After a few years, the DMC went bankrupt. It was followed by another bump in the road when he was arrested on drug (cocaine) trafficking charges.
However, his light hadn't gone off entirely. His car would later go on to cement its place in the automotive books.
The DMC DeLorean
Occasionally referred to as ‘the DeLorean’ because it was the only car model the company ever made, this car was a beauty indeed. Its gull-wing doors made it stand out. On a disappointing note, however, the car fell short when it came to power. Up until its iconic appearance in the Back to the Future trilogy, many considered it a flop.
The DeLorean was aimed at the American market, with the first DMC unit rolling out on 21st January 1981. Before the end of production in December the following year, about 9,000 units of the car had been completed.
The exact number of those left today is not known, but in 2007, the estimates were in the range of 6,500.
Using the DMC name, Stephen Wynne built an entirely separate company in 1995. Although he was from England, he based the company in Texas. He further acquired the trademark on the rebranded DMC logo alongside parts inventory of the original DMC.
The DMC DeLorean has had quite a journey throughout the years. The prototype of the car (DSV-1, i.e. DeLorean Safety Vehicle) was made in 1976 by William Collins who had previously worked as an engineer at Pontiac. A centrally-mounted Wankel rotary unit was the first choice of engine for the car. It was later changed to the Ford Cologne V6 engine. Finally, it was decided that a fuel-injected V6 PRV engine should run it.
At the same time, the mid-engine in the prototype was ditched for the rear-engine in the production car. Although the plan was to use the elastic reservoir moulding technology, it was discovered that the tech was not ideal. It seemed like the whole car needed to be redesigned at that point and was turned over to Colin Chapman for reengineering.
By dint of his connection to Lotus Cars, Chapman dumped the unproven material and manufacturing techniques. He then used those that were already employed by Lotus. As more tweaks were implemented, the name DSV-1 was changed to DMC-12. It was because the company aimed at a list price of $12,000 at that time. Today, that figure translates to about $54,000.
Production kicked off in 1980 with its name being changed to DeLorean from DMC-12. The car was sold with a 1-year, 19,000-km warranty. Sadly the company crumbled in 1982 after DeLorean’s arrest. By the time the court made a not guilty verdict, it was too late to revive the company.
Engine and Drivetrain
A 2.85L PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6 drives the DeLorean. It is rated at 97kW (5500rpm) and 207 Nm (2750 rpm) and is mated to a PRV 5-speed manual transmission. During production, the engines and gearboxes had to be brought in to the DMC factory by sea from the PRV factories where they were produced.
The car makes use of a 4-wheel independent system. It consists of telescopic shock absorbers and springs. The multi-link setup is the choice for the rear suspension. On the front, it is the double wishbones. The car has a rack and pinion steering with a steering ratio of 14.9:1.
According to comparison literature, the manual-transmission-equipped car was capable of accelerating from rest to 97km/h in 8.8 seconds. With an automatic transmission, the recorded test time by Roads & Tracks magazine was 10.5s. The DeLorean has a top speed of 175km/hr, which is low for a sports car carrying its price tag.
Making a Comeback?
The next-generation DeLorean will probably retain most aspects of the original car, especially the interior. Even so, we expect some changes in cruise control, navigation and steering. Rumours also have it that the next-gen DMC-12 will feature a modern infotainment system with Bluetooth, 350hp EPA and CARB certified V6 engine. On the exterior, it will probably sport modern headlights, too.
Until the Low Volume MV Manufacturers Act is passed, all we can do is wait. Production will likely begin in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, it will take more than 6 months to get everything around the regulation sorted. Note that although the law limits the number of remake units to 325, it is unlikely that DMC will build that many units.
Stay tuned and keep yourself up to speed on what's happening in the automotive world and the car parts industry!