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Back to the Past: The Strange History of the DeLorean DMC-12

1981 was one heck of a year for cars.
Not only did we see the introduction of the legendary Lamborghini Jalpa, the year is also perhaps most notable for another so-called sports car. We’re talking, of course, about the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 – one of the world’s most iconic cars, and also perhaps the car with the most colourful history. So without further ado, let’s dive right in and learn more about the car’s past – and try to avoid making too many Back to the Future references at the same time.

Born in… Northern Ireland?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the DeLorean DMC-12 was an all-American car. After all, the man who dreamt it up, John Z DeLorean, was American through and through – and it was advertised as an answer to the classic American dream (even going so far as to have the tagline ‘Live the dream’). However, the actual production of the car took place over in Northern Ireland. The reason for this was as simple as it being cheaper to build and run a factory there than in the US – and the fact that the Northern Ireland Development Agency actually offered to pay £100 million towards the build. The cars would be made, then shipped across the Atlantic to the USA to be sold. Between 1981 and 1983, approximately 9000 DeLorean DMC-12 cars were produced. 

A rocky ride
The actual development of the car was not smooth sailing by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the car was designed in such an unusual way that it actually used various parts from different vehicles. For example, its chassis was based on the Lotus Esprit, the engine was itself a combination of Peugeot, Renault and Volvo (PRV). Once production began, the design was deemed so poorly conceived that it fell to Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, to re-engineer a lot of the car’s design. Even with this redesign, the car is still widely known as being somewhat of a Frankenstein, making finding replacement parts for it a tall order to say the least. However, its passionate fan base have kept the car alive through thick or thin, and it’s thought there are at least 8000 DMC-12 cars still around today. Of course, the stainless steel construction actually works in favour of longevity in this case.

The DMC-12 today
While the car ceased production in 1983, around the same time that its creator John DeLorean was convicted of trying to sell cocaine to undercover police officers, it remains a cult icon. A lot of this is to do with its use as the time machine in the Back to the Future films during the mid-80s, however there are still plenty of people who love the car on its own merits. In fact, a factory still exists in Texas today which refurbishes DeLorean DMC-12 cars to custom spec – and there is talk of an all-electric version of the DeLorean being released in the near future. Of course, due to its status as a classic car, finding adequate car insurance is absolutely essential. The fact that the car has a variety of parts that are tricky to find makes this factor all the more important, so if you're in the market for a DeLorean, take some time to find quality comprehensive vehicle cover for a DMC-12. Of course, the level of car insurance required for a DeLorean will differ based on locale, and in fact even different US states have alternate approaches to car insurance requirements – so do your homework before you make your final decision on whether to purchase.

The future of the DeLorean
With the announcement and potential release of the electric version of the car, it seems as though there is some future for this vehicle. Of course, it’ll never be anyone’s daily driver – at least not for most people – but there’s no doubt that the passionate and dedicated fans of the DMC-12 will keep it alive as long as possible. Even when classic car insurance prices are sky high, there will always be a genuine DeLorean enthusiast out there willing to take a hit for a chance to own one of history’s most iconic cars. Plus, the car is frequently used on TV and in the movies due to its classic 1980s look and feel. Throw in the fact that stainless steel is rust-proof and you can see that the DeLorean DMC-12 may actually be around for a long time yet.

contributed by Emma Peterson


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