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1 discontinued models

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The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) is a classic example of  how set ups, unexpected team-ups and ego clashes can lead to a dream's demise. The DMC was founded in 1975, in Detroit, Michigan by former GM executive John DeLorean who, despite his well-doing and extensive experience in the automotive industry, left to pursuit the dream of having his own automobile brand.

DeLorean was a very prominent figure back then, having garnered a fair amount of popularity over his accomplishments as an engineer and versatile business man. His notoriety was very well conserved and further boosted by his young and energetic appearance. Having seen himself as the possessor of sufficient knowledge to start his own business, the charismatic DeLorean went on raising funds, despite mixed opinions regarding his endeavor.

Although he was respected and credited for his deeds, some voices doubted his optimistic perspectives. Fueled by enthusiasm, DeLorean soon collected the sum needed to start working on an assembly plant. The capital for doing so was raised through a combination of loans from the Bank of America, sponsorship and promotional services from Johnny Carson, among others, and attractive dealer investment programs that earned dealerships interested in the car shares of the company. Obviously, the whole fund raising process was turned into a relaxed, highly interactive, seemingly flawless plan designed to reward DeLorean partners.

Charisma fully paid the young entrepreneur who was also seeking for methods of cutting building costs for his plant. Grounds for the new factory were sought outside the US, primarily in UK and Ireland. Both countries refused to support the DMC project, forcing DeLorean to look elsewhere. Central America, mainly Puerto Rico, showed support for the daring project. In an abrupt turn of events, DeLorean was the one who turned down Puerto Rico in favor of Northern Ireland, whose  government  had reconsidered the matter.

Construction began in october 1978. The 660,000 square ft facility was built in an astonishing 16 months. Located in Dunmury, one of Belfast's suburbs, the plant stood on a religious conflict zone, right on the border between Protestant and Catholic communities. However, DeLorean was content with his factory's surroundings, best described by unemployment and the occasional religious-differences driven clashes.

Indeed, Dunmury provided the expected work force and the production start date was scheduled for 1979. Contrary to the overall favorable development of the DMC project, last minute budget issues and engineering delays postponed cars to come off the assembly lines by nearly 2 years.

Shortly after the first vehicles were produced, complaints regarding their quality emerged, marking DMC's first stage of decline. The quality issues and subsequent customer and dealership complaints were the result of work conducted by inexperi enced employees. DeLorean was quick to respond to these issues by creating several QAC's or Quality Assurance Centers in California, Delaware and Michigan. These units were to solve any quality issues that may have arisen and assure buyers of the unbridled condition and excellent functioning of vehicles provided.

Although the QAC's proved a viable solution, early DeLorean vehicles lacked the assurance of a factory warranty. Fortunately, the matter was settled by 1982 when all DMC branded cars were delivered with a five year or 50,000 mile warranty.

The DMC 12 model, the only one ever produced, sparked a variety of reactions ranging doubt, disapproval and sheer criticism to sympathy. DeLorean cars were good looking but offered few means of customization and were overpriced for their performance. The car's poor acceleration (0-60 miles in 10.5 seconds) did not match its hefty $ 25,000 price tag.

Shortages in orders and bad exchange rates were the secondary reasons that lead to DMC's collapse. The company failed to reach the estimated 10,000-12,000 units threshold, having barely sold half of the cars. Financial trouble was shaking the very foundations of the company that, in a self-saving attempt was divided into three interconnected entities: a manufacturing company, a US distributor and a research and development company. The restructuring plan would prove useless due to questionable viability.

Having almost ran dry out of options, DeLorean urged the British government for help but was turned down unless he could make proof of finding a back-up investor to provide the $ 27 million required to keep the company alive. Desperate, DeLorean was charged with drug trafficking after having agreed to smuggle $24 million worth of cocaine on US territory. The people he had dealt with were undercover FBI agents who targeted him as part of an alleged drug dealer busting operation. According to some voices, GM conspired against DeLorean with the Bureau in attempt to put him out of business. The outcome? A vilified DeLorean failed to raise the necessary funds for his company's survival and eventually retired to England.

The DMC 12 did not become what DeLorean would have wanted it to be but it did caught up with fame thanks to the 1985 Michael J Fox starring film, “Back to the Future” that introduced the car to the world. As for production figures, an estimated 9,200 were built  between 1981 and 1982, part of which were still in stock when DMC dissolved.
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DeLorean DMC-12 specs and photos

DeLorean DMC-12

coupes

Gasoline

1 generation

1981 - 1983