The Delorean Story

Anyone who has watched the movie Back to the Future knows what a Delorean car is (It’s a time machine, of course), however, few know the remarkable story behind the real life brand.

It all starts with a remarkable automobile executive named John Z. DeLorean. Born in Detroit in 1925, John DeLorean was a mechanically talented kid and tinkered with everything. After high school he earned a master’s degree in engineering from the Chrysler Institute and after graduation, worked in the prestigious Packard Research and Development group. In 1975, Delorean quit his day job and founded two companies: Composite Technology Corporation (CTC) and the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC).  CTC was developed to research and develop new, cutting-edge automotive construction materials and DMC was to build his dream car.

Delorean’s first car, the DMC-12, was designed by famed Colin Chapman of Lotus and Giorgetto Giugiaro of Ital Design. To assemble and build the cars, DeLorean settled on Northern Ireland, which offered him the best business deal of all the countries he spoke with. The factory’s formal opening was in 1981. As the story goes, the first 70-80 cars to roll off the assembly line were so bad they were parked, unfinished, along the factory’s fence for weeks at a time.  In fact, still plagued with quality problems, DeLorean had to set up rebuilding facilities on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. just to fix completed cars before they could be delivered to dealers.

Despite the setbacks, though, there were orders for thousands of DMC-12s. DeLorean tried to ramp production up to 14,700 a year to meet demand but cash flow problems developed quickly. Unfortunately, Delorean pursued “questionable sources of funds” to help with cash flow problems and he ended up in a dramatic DEA cocaine bust in October 1982 that became a world-wide news event. By 1984, he was found not guilty of all counts against him, but his car company was long gone to bankruptcy by then.

Today, the DeLorean Motorcar legend is being kept alive by the DeLorean Motor Company in Humble, Texas.  They purchased the DeLorean trademark and most of the original parts left behind when the original company collapsed.  Today, you can buy fully remanufactured Delorean automobiles from them.