AN ICON RETURNS: The DeLorean, the iconic car from the Back to the Future movies, is set to return to production. Image: YouTube
Cape Town - When the clock ticked past 07.28 pm on October 21 2015 the blockbuster cult movie Back to the Future and the unusual car star it made famous – a “time travel” ready DeLorean DMC-12 – again briefly blipped on the world’s media radar screens.
With no sequel to the original trilogy planned and the DeLorean’s spectacular and controversial failure back in ’83, one would have thought the brilliantly flawed cult vehicle has finally reached the end of its future.
Yet now it seems the DMC-12, the only DeLorean model ever produced, may just be fast forwarded back in time...
You see, while hugely imperfect, the car still has quite a considerable following, and these die-hard DeLorean fans needed their machines to be maintained, serviced and repaired.
To fulfill this need a US-based entrepreneur established the DeLorean Motor Company (no links to the original company) over a decade ago and besides servicing and repairing clients’ vehicles in 2008 started selling refurbished examples.
New US legislation
Still, production of new vehicles was out of the question as American law made no distinction between high- and low-volume manufacturers, making it impossible for small companies to comply with safety and other regulations.
This all changed two months ago (in December 2015) when, after nearly five years of lobbying, the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act in the US was signed into law.
This will allow manufacturers of replica vehicles resembling the appearance of cars older than 25 years to build up to 325 vehicles per year under oversight of both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
These vehicles will be subject to equipment standards (think headlights, wipers, horns, etc.) but exempt from mass produced vehicle standards (passive safety system, side impact tests, etc.) as long as they meet current emissions standards.
Suddenly the possibility of producing limited numbers of iconic past models in the US was a reality, and DeLorean, from Humble, Texas, was quick to announce its intention to start building the DMC-12 by the end of this year or early 2017.
DeLorean teaser video
To show their intent and commitment DeLorean earlier in February released an interesting, quite moody video on the DMC-12 named “lucky coin”.
Watch it here:
Initial numbers are expected to be low (one car per month) but it could increase over time.
On the company’s blog DeLorean Vice President James Espey indicates the original model’s 2.85-litre PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6 engine (that delivered a ridiculously low 100kW and 215Nm) in the new cars will be replaced by engines producing from 200kW to 261kW.
“We’re already in talks with four engine suppliers – two domestic (apparently Ford and GM) and two importers. We can say the engines we are considering are both naturally aspirated and turbocharged, four-cylinder and six-cylinder,” his blog entry reads.
Using more than 95% of the 2800 or so individual parts that were used to create the original DMC-12 from 1981-1983 (about 9000 were built) DeLorean can now assemble and sell a complete “turn-key” vehicle.
“Since the mid-nineties we have owned the remaining stocks of parts, engineering drawings and some of the factory tooling and equipment. That means that the exterior shape and design of the car will be unchanged,” according to the DMC blog.
Originally the DeLorean came with 15" wheels at the rear and 14" at the front, but the new cars will have larger wheels and tyres, bigger brakes, Eibach springs and performance shock absorbers, while the interior will also be modernised considerably.
The new cars will reportedly sell for less than $100 000 (R1.6 million) – in dollar terms a snip for those who in future want to travel back into time in a limited edition classic of better quality than the original.
Although primarily produced for the left-hand drive US market, some of the originals were converted to right-hand drive, so it is technically possible to build them. Whether the company will consider this, is unclear.
With a TV miniseries on the life of John DeLorean also in the works and set for release this year it seems the ill-fated DMC-12 is ready to spread its gull-wings once again…
Check out the original DeLorean advertisement of 1982: