The DeLorean Motor Company’s DMC-12 model, more commonly known as simply the DeLorean, as it was the only car the company ever produced, is most famous for its role in the Back To The Future movies, but since then it has taken on a life of its own as an automotive rarity with a thoroughly unique design.
The DeLorean is a rare car. Only about 9,000 of the cars were constructed by the company’s Northern Ireland factory from early 1981 to late 1982, and of those only about 6,500 are accounted for. And the history of the car is also one of shortages. First, the prototype DeLorean was designed to be powered by a Wankel rotary engine, but the engine’s excessive fuel consumption made it unsuitable as a result of the fuel shortages in the late 1970s. Then, company founder John Zachary DeLorean invested in a technology called Elastic Reservoir Molding, which had the potential to make the cars lighter and make the production process less expensive. Unfortunately, the technology proved to be unsuitable for automotive manufacture.
As far as the V6 engine found to replace the rotary design, things also went downhill. The car was initially designed to have a 200 horsepower engine. Engineering difficulties necessitated a downgrade to 170 horsepower, still respectable for the early 1980s. However, United States emissions restrictions were not taken into account in this design. Once the car was fitted with mandatory catalytic convertors, the horsepower dipped down to 130. The DeLorean was a sports car without the sport.
One of the main features of the DeLorean is the body design. All but three of the vehicles left the factory with a brushed stainless steel body construction that had no paint and no clearcoat finish on it. There are some DeLoreans that have been painted by their owners, but the original models were plain steel. The three exceptions to this were plated in 24 karat gold.
The gull wing doors are another distinctive feature of the DeLorean, and they presented an engineering problem as well. As mentioned, the body, including the door panels, was constructed out of stainless steel, which is much heavier than some other body materials. Othercars that have similar doorsgenerally have lighter weight doors assisted by springs or hydraulics. The DeLorean featured a novel solution: torsion bars that were preset into certain positions through cryogenic freezing and gas-charged struts.
A new version of the DeLorean Motor Company emerged in 2007, and it has recently beun to produce brand new DeLorean vehicles. The new cars will be similar to the classic models, but will feature several design changes to incorporate technology developed over the course of the past few decades. Expected price of the new DeLoreans is around $60,000, but considering that the company is only planning on producing twenty vehicles each year, competition for the models will likely be fierce.