Tuesday 16th July 2019,

DeLorean Motor Company DMC-12 1981 – 1983

DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) produced only one model, the DMC-12. It is a very unusual story. As is our wont to do, we will start at the beginning. John Zachary DeLorean was born in Detroit in 1925 and died in New Jersey in 2005. We fast-forward to the 1960`s with DeLorean working for General Motors at Pontiac cars. He was a very accomplished design-engineer and among his many successes were the GTO, the Firebird and the Pontiac Grand-Prix. He became an executive on the board of GM but left in 1973 to form his own company, DMC. Over the next few years he worked on the design of the car that would later bear his name.

In 1979 he went in search of finance for the project but discovered that he had chosen a bad time. There was very little investment capital around and even fewer people who would invest it even if they had it. He approached friends like Johnny Carson, the US television personality and actor/singer Sammy Davis Jnr. They invested some money but John DeLorean needed a lot more. He let it be known that he would open the factory in any country that would put in some investment capital. Several deals, including one in Puerto Rico, failed to materialize. Then DeLorean was contacted by the British government. Premiere Margaret Thatcher was interested in creating jobs in Northern Ireland. A deal was finally struck to build a factory on a site donated by the British government at Dunmurry, south of Belfast N.I. The British government agreed to advance £100,000,000 to DeLorean Motor Company. This factory would create over 2000 jobs which would make it `money well spent`… at the time. For some strange reason John DeLorean engaged Renault to build the factory for him, which they duly did.

Work began on production and it quickly became apparent that DeLorean`s designs would not work in practice. He appealed for assistance and Colin Chapman of Lotus answered the call. Chapman quickly rectified the problems by grafting in the Lotus Esprit chassis and running-gear. Production began in earnest, most of the cars being exported to the US.

Sales were boosted by the car appearing in the movie `Back To The Future`. The car was selling well but more investment was needed. DeLorean was running out of money and approached Mrs.Thatcher for another £30,000,000, unsuccessfully. He went on a fund-raising excursion to the US and got involved (allegedly) in an F.B.I. sting operation involving cocaine importation into the US, in 1982. He was finally acquitted of all charges but his court victory came too late to save DMC. In late 1982 the receivers were called in and after a few months, they closed the company. Stephen Wynne, a Texan, later bought the rights to DMC and still produces DeLorean`s car today.

The DMC-12.

The Body:
The body appeared to be made of stainless steel (S/S) but that was only a cosmetic finish. The S/S body-panels were bonded to a fibre-glass under-body. The S/S panels were finished with a grained, brushed-effect that needed no paint. Indeed, later attempts to apply paint failed miserably, it would not adhere to the steel finish. This later caused another problem. It proved impossible to perform a satisfactory repair after impact damage. Normally the final pre-paint finishing treatment would involve fibre-glass filler or molten lead to tidy-up joints etc. This is done in all car factories. The final paint-finish disguises this process but it was impossible to paint a DMC-12! The only alternative was to fit new panels. Fortunately hundreds of S/S body panels still exist.

The DeLorean DMC-12 had very attractive `gull-wing` doors with sliding glass panels set into the bigger side-windows, the doors were not deep enough to allow the whole window to slide down. The design of the doors was very clever, the driver only needed 11 inches of side-space to open the door. A driver would need to be a real lightweight to exit a normal car with only 11 inches of space available! The styling was performed by Giugiara of `Italdesign`, it was a futuristic 2seater fixed-head coupe. It was beautiful!

The chassis:
The `double Y` Esprit chassis was used with the appropriate Lotus running gear. The front suspension on the DMC-12 was by double wishbones and coil springs, the rear used multi-links with coils. Rack and pinion steering and 4wheel servo disc brakes were employed. The DMC-12 used odd-sized alloy wheels, 14 inch 6J on the front, 15 inch 8J on the rear. Presumably one needed two spare-wheels! With a balance ratio of 35% front and 65% rear the DMC-12 was reputed to handle and stop very well.
The interior:

The interior was stylish and well appointed. The upholstery was leather, windows, locking and mirrors were all electric. A clever, tilting, telescopic steering column was fitted which, with the excellent leg-room, would allow the tallest driver to get comfortable. Air-conditioning was standard as was tinted glass and a heated rear window. The general impression was of a well-finished car.

The power-train:
After an unsuccessful attempt to buy-in the Wankel engine from NSU, a motor was sourced from PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) called the `Douvrin`. It was viewed with suspicion by the motoring-press, many of whom considered it to be a `mongrel`. It was big enough to be useful, a 2.8 litre V6, single overhead camshaft with fuel-injection but it proved to be quite short of power. It was rear-mounted with either a 5-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic gear-box coupled to it. The car was light, only 1230 kgs but it could not afford to be any heavier with a rating of only 156 bhp and a torque output of only 153 ft/lbs. Worse was to come. These figures relate to the `Euro` model, the US model had to have a catalytic converter fitted that reduced the bhp to 130.

Top speed figures have never been published but the 0-60 times were as follows;
Euro model = 8.8 seconds and the US model 10.5 seconds. Both of these figures are better than one might expect. The cars exported to the US had a speedometer with a maximum of 85 mph! With it`s lack of weight we would estimate the DMC-12`s top-speed to be around 120 mph on a good day.

Around 9000 DeLoreans were produced at the Dunmurry plant, of which an estimated 6500 survive today. It was certainly an attractive and innovative car, strangled by lack of cash-flow. It is still very popular, as Mr.Wynne in Texas will testify, because he is still making them. The DMC-12 would make an excellent subject for electric-propulsion, as is rumoured. It still looks space-age and it`s still very light. It may not travel in time but it is certainly surviving it! Back to the future for real!

DeLorean DMC-12 1981-1983
Body Type2 seater fixed-head coupe
Engine PlacementMid
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Cargo Volume396 L14 cu. Ft.
Engine2.8i PRV V6 SOHC (Euro)
Displacement2849 cc173.9 cui
Power116 Kw156 bhp6700 RPM
Torque237 Nm175 ft. lb3500 RPM
Power/weight127 bhp/t
Top Speed193 km/h120 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph8.8 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox5 speed manual3 seep automatic
Weight1230 kg2712 lb
Engine2.8i PRV V6 SOHC (US)
Displacement2849 cc173.9 cui
Power97 Kw130 bhp5500 RPM
Torque207 Nm153 ft. lb2800 RPM
Power/weight106 bhp/t
Top Speed177 km/h110 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph10.5 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox5 speed manual3 seep automatic
Weight1230 kg2712 lb
GD Star Rating
DeLorean Motor Company DMC-12 1981 - 1983, 8.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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