As motor vehicle enthusiasts, most reading this article probably have many cars they absolutely love—and when we say love, we mean love. Make no mistake about it. There is no doubt that most motor heads have at least a top twenty-five and can never quite narrow it down to a top ten vehicle list. That’s why most of our list articles here at HotCars often consist of so many entries. But every once in a while there comes a car that absolutely immobilizes even the gear head with the most varied of tastes. There comes a vehicle that astounds the senses in the most peculiar of ways, rendering it their favourite car. Is it because the vehicle is the best? No. Is it because that vehicle is the best looking? Hardly. Then why is this phenomena such a prevalent factor for some car lovers when finally being able to sum up their favourite car? It’s kind of hard to explain, but when it happens, you know it.
In 1981 a car was introduced to the world that in its short time at the top would influence many to fall in love with it instantly. And it wouldn’t be until 1985 that the car would live on in the hearts and minds of many worldwide and not just car freaks in general, but regular motorists who had no interest in cars, period. The car would appeal to the masses. The DeLorean has gone down in history as being one of the most influential vehicles in the motoring industry, but all that didn’t happen without a storied and sketchy past, we’re afraid. It has often been named the one car that many car enthusiasts just gotta have in their collection, and there are many reasons for it, trusts us.
We’ve got 25 morsels of information on the car company that you’ve just got to read. So sit back, and let us gear up the DeLorean to 88 miles an hour, juice up the old flux capacitor and take you back to 1981.
25 DeLorean Motor Company Inception
So it was with all that experience under his belt, that John DeLorean decided to move on and introduce to the world a car that would definitely shock and surprise many in the automotive industry … not only with its sleek design, but with its competitively brash engineering concepts that no other car company had ever tried to put forth.
So it was on the 24th of October that The DeLorean Motor Company was founded in John’s own birthplace of Detroit, Michigan.
The company would only ever produce one car, but man what an impact that one design would have.
24 John DeLorean's Impeccable Resume
Oftentimes, a person’s education tells us where a person will eventually end up—for the most part, that is. But a person’s resume is often undeniable proof of what he/she is capable of. John DeLorean had an impressive curriculum vitae, and the experience was no doubt great preparation for the milestones he would achieve as a businessman and an engineer. As an engineer, he worked at the Packard Motor Company, Chrysler, General Motors, Pontiac, and even Chevrolet. One of the only other expected big names is Ford, and they, unfortunately, didn’t have the pleasure of having him on staff.
23 John DeLorean: The Man Behind The Myth
John DeLorean was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1925. He was of Romanian and Austrian descent. John was an exceptional student and was granted the chance to attend Cass Technical High School, where only honour students were allowed.
He would go on to attend the Lawrence Institute of Technology on a scholarship where his academic achievements would garner him quite the reputation as a top notch student.
He even served three years in the US forces, which interrupted his school work, but after his service was over, he would continue the studies that would land him some of the greatest and most prestigious positions in the automotive industry.
22 Stainless Steel
Probably one of the features that is the most striking about the car is its very original stainless steel body. It’s true… so you can never really wreck the paint job, as none of them are painted, or at least the ones produced by the manufacturer, that is. So, yeah, the same stuff that your mom’s pots and pans are made of went into the production of this beautiful vehicle you’ve come to know and love. Only a very big problem would eventually be found in the fact that this car was made of stainless steel and unfortunately, it would lead to a terrible scandal. Read on and find out just what.
21 Gull Wing Doors
Quite a few cars would sport the now famous gull wing doors. Yes, Mercedes, Tesla, and even the Melkus RS2000 would feature such doors, but perhaps it would be the DeLorean DMC-12 that would become the most notorious for this feature.
The doors would represent some mechanical difficulties down the line, as the doors need to fight gravity to open properly.
Thus certain features that usually wouldn’t go into car design would apply here, but overall the feature was well-received, the doors resembling a commodity only the rich could afford. Loading and unloading the car became an ease so few cars provided.
20 Advanced Space-Age Technology
The car’s design and of course the doors, which we just looked at, were definitely designs that can now and forever be considered out of this world, especially when looking at the materials used and who was behind the designs and engineering of this product. DeLorean was the best, so it was only natural that he would align himself with the best when designing this beast he would unleash onto the world. Grumman Aerospace, who also worked on the Apollo Lunar Module, designed the doors’ torsion bar, which is responsible for a gull wing door’s raising and lowering.
19 Became The Perfect Test Vehicle
No matter what went down with this car, there is no doubt that any car enthusiast will tell you that it was well made—perhaps it was a little too well made, but well-built nonetheless. If it wasn’t the stainless steel frame, then it was the mechanics under the hood that did it, but any way you look at it, the DeLorean DMC-12 was a beast all around. So perhaps this is why the vehicle was favoured to use as a crash test vehicle by the government when coming up with motor vehicle safety standards.
18 The Car's Shape Designer
Also, what can be said about the DMC-12 is that the shape was definitely out of this world as well. It was sleek, but at the same time looked as though it could take a beating on the road or even off of the beaten path, and this is also what comes into play when deciding if a vehicle is a winner or not, overall.
Well, the designer who was behind the DMC-12’s impeccable shape was none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro.
He was also responsible for designing the Lotus Esprit, The BMW M1 and the Lexus GS among others.
17 The Engine
As we’ve stated, DeLorean knew how to build a serious car. With all that experience behind him, there was no doubt he’d be up to the challenge. But what has shocked many car enthusiasts in the past, and will no doubt shock you, is that when it came to the engine, John DeLorean decided to up and borrow an exact engine from an existing car. It’s true, the engine is an exact replica of the engine found in a Volvo (a V6). After a few failed attempts at the perfect engine, this was the engine the company ultimately ended up going with.
16 Early Reviews
Often times, no matter how extraordinary something is, the world still finds holes in it, no matter what it is. This is seen in many facets of life; in art, in construction, in politics, and yes, even in cars.
When the DMC-12 first came out, it also was met with mixed reviews.
Ultimately, the world wasn’t ready for something so ahead of its time, but with patience, the company would eventually earn the respect and accolades it deserved. But, believe it or not, the company had a hard time finding a market back in the early days.
15 The Special Gold-Plated Series
As we stated earlier, the car was made of stainless steel. Although the company had intended to introduce paint-friendly versions to the masses, the plan never came to fruition. But there are indeed a few gold-plated versions of the car out there. These are no doubt special feature and they add a little je-ne-sais-quoi to the appeal of the car. Publicity stunt? Perhaps, but it still looks pretty awesome, overall. If these would have been available to the general public, perhaps what ended up happening would have never come to pass.
14 Early Rumors Of A 4-Door DeLorean
Just like the whole announcement that the company planned to eventually release DMC-12s that would feature many different colours available to consumers, the company would often announce certain changes or plans. Many have speculated that this was done to curb some enthusiasm into the product, as it wasn’t doing quite well at first, but this remains unclear. Whether it was true or not, the company once announced that a four door DeLorean was in the works. Whether we believe it or not doesn’t change the fact that it would have been pretty awesome to see, no doubt.
13 Rise In Popularity
Yes, so the company had a slow start, which goes to show you, that no matter who is at the helm of a particular company, even a genius like John DeLorean himself, a company that is doomed, is doomed and there’s nothing that can change that outcome. But there would come a time when the company would reach an influx in interest and that would be solely because of Hollywood and a few excellent cast choices made by Hollywood execs when casting for Back To The Future, released in 1985. And probably one of the most important cast member they could ever have hired was in the form of a car, the DeLorean DMC-12.
12 The Ultimate Time Machine
When classic author HG Wells wrote about the time machine in his great and epic tale, The Time Machine, there is no doubt in my mind that he envisioned a great and powerful machine that could displace humans from one point on the time/space continuum and drop them to another point on that line.
But, there is no way that he ever envisioned that the time machine would look like a DeLorean DMC-12!
Even the character of Marty is shocked when he first sees it in one of the movie’s first iconic scenes: “Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?"
11 The Chassis
In and of itself, the chassis is probably the least scrutinized portion of any motor vehicle. This is so, for probably everyone except for mechanics, both professional and recreational. After all, the chassis is a rather important component in any vehicle, as most car enthusiasts should be aware. With the DMC-12, the chassis was most definitely an important feature to design, as the frame was considerably different from any other car at the time. Many factors came into play, but the design team met them head on and came up with a very accommodating design. What is less known about the car is that the chassis as well was completely fabricated with stainless steel.
10 The Company's Initial Goals
Any company worth its salt will promise the world anything at the start of its days. This goes for companies in any industry. But for any company, these demands aren’t often met and for any number of reasons. John DeLorean and DMC weren’t any different, and the goals they set—often pretty brash in the face of the adversity they met during their prominence—were announced to the world with the best of intentions. At first, the company set a goal of making 20 000 vehicles each year, however only meeting this mark by less than half. In fact, they would never reach 10 000 cars, period.
9 The Beginning Of The End
By the time the company started to get a little bit of momentum, all the struggle would turn out to be fruitless before 1981 would come to an end. With a lot of failed promises and expectations that could never have been met, the company was faced with its most brutal period of time. Many companies face such turmoil, and many have come through these horrid times unscathed or seemingly so. But unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be possible for John DeLorean’s pride and joy.
Way too much adversity faced the company, and sadly right from the start of its growth.
So it was in the second year of the tumultuous 80s that bad times lay ahead for DMC, and unfortunately they wouldn’t last long before the imminent end. All this, coupled with a high cost of production and a lack in demand, would be too much for the company to handle.
8 Legal Issues
Ultimately, the car’s designs would be its downfall. But first, the company was targeted by the FBI in a drugs trafficking charge, particularly John DeLorean. The investigation led to him being brought to court, and although there was indeed a lot of evidence against him, he and his lawyers were able to prove his innocence. However, the ordeal and the public image brought on by the media attention was enough to ruin his reputation and most importantly, the image of the DMC-12. See, the car itself was made of stainless steel, and the illegal narcotics could be placed within the body of the car, particularly the doors, without being detected by the police scanners of the time. Essentially, the DMC-12 was the perfect vehicle for smuggling.
Sadly, a bad reputation can mean the end of any career—even a lucrative one. In the case of DMC, they were already hiccupping along their way when the tarnished image they suffered at the hands of the FBI and the media came to light.
The negative attention only helped them along to the inevitable end they faced, and perhaps always faced.
With the company’s finances as they were and a very limited amount of potential consumers, the company was forced to close its doors and not only that, but file for bankruptcy at the same time.
6 The Company Had Already Gone Under When It Appeared In Back To The Future
What’s very interesting is that by the time the car would be featured in the Back To The Future franchise’s first instalment in 1985, the company would have already been out of business for three years, having officially gone off the market in 1982. Why then did the car get featured in the film? This question has often been proposed. Back To The Future writer, Bob Gale has gone on record to say that the fact that the DMC-12 received such negative attention in the media gave the car that outlaw look they were looking for, thus making it the perfect vehicle for Doc Brown, himself. It has even been reported that Ford officially asked producers to change the car to a Mustang, but they stayed faithful to the DMC-12, responding that "Doc Brown doesn't drive a mustang."
5 Why The Vehicle Is Loved
There are indeed many out there that love this car. Maybe love isn’t always the right word. Maybe infatuation is probably a better term to describe what goes on between a DMC-12 and certain enthusiasts. The car was a mechanical and an industrial achievement of epic proportions—that cannot be argued. But perhaps the vehicle reached the level of adoration it has, probably because of none other than Marty McFly and the wonderful job Michael J. Fox did of bringing that character to screen. The film is a classic, and the way the car is depicted in that film makes it more than a vehicle, maybe even a character all its own. I don’t know about you, but when the car is destroyed in the third instalment of the franchise, many have been known to mist up including your truly.
4 The DeLorean As It's Perceived Today
Like any other product on the market, the DeLorean has its fans and unfortunately, its critics to this today.
There are many who feel the company’s creator got what he deserved, and there are others who feel he got dealt a bad hand.
Here at HotCars, we choose to put politics and bad reputations aside and concentrate on what it’s all about for us here, and that’s the car. At the end of the day, if a product is good, it’s good, and we shouldn’t look at the external links that surround the car and connect it to other branches of notoriety. The car was an iconic vehicle and it should be remembered as such.
3 Other Interesting Facts You Should Know
Any cook will tell you that stainless steel is hard to get clean. After all, in professional kitchens, it isn’t only the pots and pans that are made out of the powerful steel, but the kitchen counters and ovens and ventilators as well. As it turns out, when professional cooks clean those items in their kitchen, they always finish the job with a coat of oil, spread in with a rag to shine it up real nice. As it turns out, the DMC-12 was rendered spotless in much the same way a sponge with a little bit of gasoline. Another interesting tid-bit about this company and its storied history: President Donald Trump purchased the DeLorean estate after John DeLorean’s passing in 2005.
2 Brand New DMCs Are Still Available
Do you feel like you missed the boat? Every time you watch Back To The Future and see Marty saving the present by either going back in time, or back to the future, do you feel like you missed your chance, or maybe were born just a little too late? I know I do. In fact many have expressed much of the same sentiment when looking back to the films or even coming across an article like this one. As it turns out, you’re not too late! Believe it or not, what was left of the company, detailed plans and spare parts ended up in the possession of a company in Texas, named The DeLorean Motor Company of Texas. You can still order a brand new DMC-12 with original specs form this company. Dreams really do come true!
1 DIY DMC-12
But for you industrious folks out there, those of you who love to get down and build your own cars from scratch, or at least spare parts, there can be a DMC-12 in your futures as well. As it turns out, you can even order the parts and actually build your very own. It actually comes out to half the price that the Texas company would charge for a brand new DMC-12, so if you’ve got about 30 000 and loads of time, go for it. Just think of it as the hot rod of your dreams or maybe the hot rod of the future.
Sources: IMDB.com, Thrillist.com, Hemmings.com, PopularMechanics.com