Get ready to go Back to the Future. It’s taken longer to pull together than that hit movie trilogy but an all-electric version of the DeLorean DMC-12 is finally set to make its debut May 31.
The work of one-time General Motors executive John Z. DeLorean, the original gull-winged sports car may have been the most iconic failure in the history of the auto industry. Launched in 1975, the DeLorean Motor Co. crashed in spectacular fashion after building barely 9,000 of the sports cars. It didn’t help that DeLorean himself was busted in a cocaine deal which, U.S. prosecutors claimed, was meant to raise cash to keep the company in business.
It took years of legal wrangling between DeLorean’s heirs and a group of Texas investors. But, after finally gaining rights to both the DMC name and the design of the original car, they plan to put it back into production. While it won’t use the flux capacitor that, in the Back to the Future films, allowed time travel, the revived DMC-12 is expected to switch to an all-electric drivetrain.
After providing a first teaser in February, the new Delorean Motor Co. has now released a video clip on social media. The company says it will start off by revealing three updated interpretations of the DMC-12, representing what it might have looked like in 1990, 2000 and 2010. The first will debut the end of this month. The 2022 “production” version will then roll out Aug. 18, according to DMC CEO Joost de Vries.
Based on the latest teaser, the planned production model retains key elements of the original, 1975 DMC-12, which was created by Giorgetto Giugiaro and, most famously, featured a distinctive stainless steel body and gull-wing doors. But it also adds some distinctively modern EV features, such as the LED light bar that stretches across the entire back end. It also has distinctive window blinds and an illuminated version of the DELOREAN badge.
While it’s difficult to make out much more, the newly redesigned body also shows a bit more sculpting than the original DMC-12. That’s no surprise. DeLorean engineers struggled to cope with the stainless steel used for the 1975 model. It was far more difficult to stamp than conventional steel. But it also proved to be less stainless than expected. The first cars picked up all sorts of dust and dirt, especially if driven in regions where road salt was used. Eventually, DeLorean had to apply a special coating over the bare metal to help keep it clean.
What we know
DMC’s new CEO has been dropping little bits of information in recent months, the most important being that the revived sports car will trade out its old — and painfully underpowered — V-6 engine for an all-electric drivetrain. Specific details have not been revealed, however.
De Vries has also indicated the company plans to be a “full-line manufacturer,” with the coupe serving as its halo vehicle. The plan is to follow up with more affordable, higher-volume products, though he’s offered no insight as to what they will be.
The reborn company has lined up a production facility at the Port of San Antonio, Texas. The operation is expected to create about 450 jobs, it said in February.
The original car was a vanity project launched by DeLorean after he broke off from General Motors. He lined up a long list of financial backers ranging from longtime Tonight Show host Johnny Carson to the British government. The UK went all in after the maverick automaker agreed to set up an assembly plant in Northern Ireland. The government hoped that the promise of high-paying jobs would help resolve “The Troubles,” the sectarian violence sweeping through the region.
But DeLorean ran into trouble almost immediately, production backed up, reviews were harsh and sales were lower than expected. As the company teetered towards bankruptcy, he was caught up in a government sting allegedly preparing to move a large quantity of cocaine in a bid to raise new funds.
DeLorean eventually was acquitted, jurors buying the argument that he was entrapped by overzealous federal agents. But the company by then had collapsed.
The project might have been forgotten entirely had it not been for the Back to the Future series. In it, the car was modified to use a flux capacitor to power it up. It needed 1.21 gigawatts of power to do that. If we can guess at no other detail about the new car’s drivetrain, we’d bet that it won’t use nearly as much power — nor be able to travel through time.