DeLorean DMC-12 – wing lame

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Purchasing classics there

The phrase “like snow in the sun” seems to have been coined by DeLorean's story. The brand that could have succeeded for as many reasons as failed. However, the cause of the fall of the brand, just a year after the first DeLorean DMC-12 rolled off the line, came from an unexpected source. John DeLorean spent years giving birth to his dream car; “a sports car accessible to the common man”. DMC stood for DeLorean Motor Company and 12 for the initial retail price of $12.000. So his car would be cheap (a new DeLorean ended up costing double that), have a unique design with gull-wing doors and an unpainted stainless steel body and be mass-produced. Ireland, where the DMC factory was located, was struggling with high unemployment at the time. DeLorean created many new jobs that enabled him to get the government behind him as a major investor. 


John DeLorean had his car built by Lotus, an exclusive and small brand. Lotus was strapped for cash and saw DeLorean as a godsend. However, it did not sufficiently realize what mass production would mean for them. The problems surrounding the production soon piled up. The new, hastily hired staff was totally inexperienced in building cars and the whole design of the car proved to be insufficiently adapted to mass production. For example, the 'wings' were not only the trademark, but also the major problem of the car. The doors were complicated to attach and difficult to fit into the stainless steel body. The first 400 DeLorean DMC-12 produced had to be completely stripped and rebuilt upon arrival in America.
PRV engine

In terms of chassis, drive and handling, this was perhaps The Future thanks to Lotus, but a DeLorean was a disillusionment in terms of motor. It became a kind of Esprit with an everyday PRV engine. PRV stands for Peugeot-Renault-Volvo. These three partners developed a V70 engine in the 6s that was supplied in a Renault 30, the Volvo 260 and about 20 other fairly average cars. Not exactly a monster, as you can imagine. DeLorean saw in it a reliable and economical engine that got the 1245 kg DeLorean DMC-12 from 9,5 to 0 in a reasonable XNUMX seconds. However, buyers were unimpressed and disappointed in the performance, although that was perhaps not entirely justified given the relatively low new price.

Snow in the sun

The mediocre quality and the disappointing engine did not help, of course. The fact that the factory incurred too high costs and the car cost more than twice what was planned did not help either. The fact that only 1981 of the 7000 DeLoreans produced by December 3000 had been sold was also worrying. But what ultimately made the DeLorean brand disappear like snow in the sun within a few weeks was the weather. There was a lot of snow in Ireland that month. So much that a large part of public life came to a standstill. For weeks it was impossible to continue working and to deliver cars. The company could not overcome this catastrophe. When John DeLorean was also suspected of drug smuggling a few weeks later, the curtain fell quickly and definitively. Despite being acquitted and despite many conversations with potential investors around the world, John couldn't get the wind down.

Back To The Future

The DeLorean DMC-12 instantly achieved cult status with the release of the movie Back To The Future in 1985. The car plays a prominent role as a time machine. To this day, that is what the car reminds us of. A quirky brand with a story dubbed "the biggest car crash of all times". Dreams, nightmares, movies, drugs and a disastrous bad weather scenario is what ultimately made this car so special. The number 12 behind DMC was already obsolete upon delivery.


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  1. Cocaine is called "snow" here. The joke was that Deloreans came with “Snow Tires”.
    Climbing in and out was not easy, but it drove pretty well. The engine made a pleasant hum behind your neck, a bit Pontiac Fiero-esque. The car was absolutely not made of stainless steel, it is a thin layer of stainless steel pasted over a kind of polyester. Expensive and complicated.
    At our meeting there were also 2 Bricklins with wing doors, which also didn't really work
    did good. Is it a landmark here in Vancouver? not really, a Corvair attracts more attention, and from a Citroën Ami 's mouths fall open . A Subaru SVX gets a considerable amount of “viewers”, and rightly so, a very special car.
    Warm regards to all AMK readers.

    DeLorean DMC-12 – wing lame

  2. I was allowed to sit in one, Pasadena, fall 2015. Very fragile and small by modern standards. Despite that, that sprint in 1981 was not bad at all, certainly not for the US market, where the Big Three certainly wholesaled quite slow cars and, for example, the 3rd generation Camaro was saddled with a 2.5 Iron Duke four-cylinder. Fox Mustang didn't fare much better. There's a DMC specialist near here in Huntington Beach that has half the street full of these nice shiny two-seaters.

  3. I can hardly notice that I think it is a beauty of a car. 9,5s for the obligatory sprint of
    0-100kmh is just very neat. A car where paint damage and repainting is unnecessary. The invention of the century, I think. Update with polishing paper 😊
    Can't be more beautiful. At least if you are a stainless steel adept!

  4. Regardless of the quality, it remains an icon of a Hollywood car.
    The supply of parts is also in good order, which you would not expect at all with these types of little-built classics.

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