Welcome to Part 2 of What’s in Your Fantasy Garage?
We started this series in January during the Detroit Automotive Show when we took a look at the new Ford GT Supercar. This week we’re going to look at a supercar from a different era that has risen quickly to the top of the fantasy garage dream car list, the DeLorean DMC-12. The iconic DeLorean DMC-12 has it all: a razor-sharp 1980s wedge shape styling crafted out of distinctive unpainted stainless steel body panels, enormous gullwing doors that fly up over your head, and a charismatic yet notorious namesake, John DeLorean, who sought to revolutionize the sports car industry, but ended up in prison over cocaine trafficking charges. (Hence one of the DMC-12’s unfortunate nicknames: the Snowmobile.)
But it’s the Hollywood box office winner of 1985, the film Back to the Future, directed by Robert Zemeckis and produced by Steven Spielberg, that has propelled the DeLorean car into cult fantasy status.
The story of John DeLorean’s fall from grace is an epic Greek tragedy. As the youngest executive appointed to lead a car division of General Motors (at Pontiac), DeLorean embodied the fast-lane, wide-track Pontiac lifestyle. His ambition constrained by the corporation, he broke away to create his own car company Delorean Motor Company (or DMC for short) in 1975, forty years ago this year. In its short seven year history, DeLorean Motor Company designed and built an enormous new car factory outside of Belfast, Northern Ireland. After many delays production began in early 1981. The car’s list price was $25,000. The early cars suffered from quality problems, but these were mostly resolved by 1982.
Unfortunately, only 9000 units were built, far short of the breakeven point of around 12,000 units. Consequently, the whole operation was leaking cash. During this time, John DeLorean was the target of an FBI sting operation and was charged with conspiring to smuggle $24 million worth of cocaine. Ultimately he was acquitted, but his reputation was ruined. DMC went out of business in 1982, throwing 2500 employees out of work and causing investors to write off $100 million of investments.
How Did the DMC-12 Become Such a Cult Classic?
Given the beautiful styling of the car and the notorious reputation of its namesake, John DeLorean, it’s certain that the DMC-12 would have achieved cult car status on its merits alone. But the coming-of-age Back to the Future movie, which centered around a highly-modified DMC-12 turned into a Hollywood-fantasy Time Machine, has cemented the car and given it a must-have status for fans of the movie.
Given that all the DeLorean cars were manufactured in the UK, it’s not surprising that there is a significant fan base in Britain. In the video above, Ollie Wilkie from Bristol, England, explains his fascination with the car and why he’s invested his resources to acquire a full replica Time Machine from Back to the Future.
Closer to home, Lenny Hochteil from California explains how he got the DeLorean bug initially from wanting to rent one for his son’s graduation. This close encounter (of the DeLorean kind) has led to a lifelong obsession with DeLoreans, a relationship that Hochteil describes in quite philosophical terms. In the video clip above, it’s clear the car has great meaning to him in his life.
Think You Might Be Susceptible to the DeLorean Bug?
The sudden closure of the Northern Ireland DeLorean factory in 1982 had one positive benefit for today’s modern DeLorean collector: the mass quantity of unfinished spare parts destined for manufacturing new DeLorean cars. In 1995 Steven Wynne bought up the remaining parts inventory, the DeLorean motor Company name and the DMC logo. Wynne moved his operations to just outside of Houston in Humble, Texas, where he provides restoration services and spare parts to DeLorean owners. The business has expanded to include franchise dealers in Florida, Illinois, Southern California, the Seattle area and in the Netherlands. Want to buy a like-new DeLorean? Check out their DeLorean cars for sale!
What’s Next in the Future? Hoverboards from Lexus?
Toyota engineers at their flagship Lexus operations are envisioning hoverboards. Yes, just like in the movie Back to the Future III. They have released this teaser video above and, from all indications, it looks like they’ll build up to a working hoverboard announcement on October 21st of this year. Why that date? It’s the date from the movie Back to the Future III of course, when Doc, Marty and girlfriend Jennifer travel to the then-future, or rather to our present year of 2015. We can’t wait for the future to come true, again.
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