Car of future passed

Flux capacitor power!

Stainless steel deal

The year was 1981 and John Z. DeLorean, “Father of the GTO,” having gone rogue after an heroic career at General Motors, finally launched his dream car that he modestly named after himself.  Stainless steel body. Check.  Gull wing doors. Check. Mid-engine. Check.  What could possibly go wrong?  As it happened, most everything. Turns out that DeLorean’s Tuckeresque quixotic windmill tilt-a-whirl was squeezed out for numerous financial, technical and, perhaps, pharmacological reasons, coupled with his own hubris and the inclination of the entrenched auto makers to make life as difficult as possible for upstarts.

0 - 88 in 30 years

0 – 88 in 30 years

We found a well-used example in a “Doctors Only” parking space the other day that is, apparently, a commuter car for a “hipocrat.”  While the DMC12 was projected to retail for $12,000 it ended up costing more than twice that amount despite the fact that power was provided by a somewhat anemic PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6. The chassis, though, as engineered by Lotus, was on supercar par.

It's not a gang, it's a club!

It’s not a gang, it’s a club!

Despite that shortcoming in the propulsion department, an estimated 9,000 units were built at the factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.  Actually, not too shabby in terms of failed indie car numbers — anybody remember the Vector W8?  Cizeta-Moroder V16T?  Bricklen SV-1?  OK, they built a bunch of that latter gull-winger but not even a third of DeLorean’s output.

McFly ride

McFly ride, flux capacitor optional at extra cost.

Of course, the car had an afterlife as a very literal Hollywood star vehicle in the Back To The Future series. It was the way Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly character went back to 1955 from 1985 with all sorts of nutty anachronistic shtick ensuing.  That was a thirty year span and now we’ve come another thirty since John Z’s dream faded from shiny to black.  Of course, you need only get your flux capacitor-augmented DMC12 up to 88 mph to get back there if you so choose.

Click here to go back to Back to the Future as Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown character introduces Fox’s McFly to the perks of DeLorean ownership.   Want your very own?  There are quite a few to choose from right here but if you don’t get your bid in on time you can just borrow one and go back to a nanosecond before the auction ends.


3 thoughts on “Car of future passed

  1. Byron

    Father of not only the GTO, but also the best-looking, cleanest-lined full-size Pontiacs since Lucy, Desi, Fred and Ethel took their turquoise Ponton convertible across the country. What a thrill it was to snort lines off that stainless-steel body. (Okay, I never really did that. Couldn’t afford the drugs OR the car.)

  2. Doug M

    Delorean production car wasn’t mid-engined but rear engined, like an old Volkswagen. Prototype with mid engine didn’t work out, so Lotus cobbled up a low grade rear engine version of their Esprit chassis with a stunning but aerodynamically shameful stainless steel body while charging Delorean a fortune as well as his reputation and family and freedom.

  3. George Merlis

    John DeLorean was on Good Morning America and unveiled the design there before the first car ever came off the assembly line. I talked to him in the Green Room, gave him my card and asked if he could arrange a test drive when production started. Two days later there was a story in the NY Daily News that read, “George Merlis, executive producer of Good Morning America, and Duke Struck, the show’s director, were so impressed with John DeLorean’s guest shot on the show, they gave the pioneering automaker orders for the first two DeLoreans to be sold in New York.” That’s when I knew JDL was a real con man.


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