A Brief History of the DeLorean for Students Pursuing Auto Careers

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Every now and then, a car gains cult status. Whether for its beautiful styling, good performance, or unique history, it lives on in the hearts of collectors even long after its production stops.

However, of all cult cars, few are as memorable as the DeLorean. Its futuristic look, stainless-steel body panels, stylish gull-wing doors, and incredible story have helped it endure—both in Hollywood movies and in private collections.

If you are planning to pursue an automotive career, read on to learn more about how the DeLorean was make and why it disappeared!

John DeLorean’s Auto Career and the Delorean Motor Company

The story of the DeLorean DMC-12 begins with the DeLorean Motor Company. In 1973, John Z. DeLorean—one of the leading stars at General Motors—unexpectedly quit his job to start his own car company. John DeLorean had gained popularity for his work on the Pontiac GTO (considered by many to be the first “true” muscle car), but wanted to build his “dream car” and build a new company all on his own.

To help start his new auto career, he set up a factory in Northern Ireland with the help of $100,000 from the British Government.

The Original DeLorean Concept

John DeLorean had a lot of hopes for his company’s first car. He wanted the sports car to be “fun to drive, safe to operate, and long-lasting.” And he also wanted his factory to provide auto careers for workers in Northern Ireland, where unemployment was a huge problem.

Originally, the DeLorean DMC-12 was meant to cost buyers approximately $12,000, use a Citroën engine, and combine excellent styling with performance and reliability. The DeLorean Motor Company had even bought the patent rights to a revolutionary new technology known as elastic reservoir moulding, which was meant to make the car lighter and reduce production costs.

Production Problems and Final Specs

Unfortunately, elastic reservoir moulding was not feasible for the company’s tight deadlines, and so the technology had to be scrapped. On top of that, other production problems added to the cost of the DeLorean and compromised the final quality of the car. In fact, the first cars were so poorly built that DeLorean had to set up several quality assurance centers where cars entering the United States were reworked by professionals that had completed their training at an automotive training institute.

The final car, while stylish, had an underwhelming Volvo V-6 engine that offered 130 horsepower. It also cost much more than other sports cars at the time, with a final ticket price of $25,000—the equivalent of $75,000 today.

The End of John DeLorean’s Auto Career

In some ways, John DeLorean’s story can be seen as an automotive course in how to not start a car company. He was not often present as his factory, and eventually resorted to desperate measures to try and get more cash for his failing business venture. In 1982, he made headlines when he was busted for trafficking cocaine, and while he was later found innocent due to entrapment, the DeLorean Motor Company was eventually closed down.

The DeLorean is Immortalized in Back to the Future

Many car experts say that the DeLorean would have been forgotten long ago if it wasn’t for its leading role in the Blockbuster trilogy Back to the Future. Originally, the script had the main character Marty McFly travel to the past in a refrigerator, but that idea was eventually scraped when scriptwriters worried it might encourage children to climb into refrigerators.

Instead, they chose to make the time machine a car, and picked the DeLorean for its stylish and futuristic look, which you can see in this video:


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