September 9, 2016

Facts & Fiction

The DeLorean car has to be clouded in more mystery than any other car in modern history.  Many questions about the car, the DeLorean Motor Company, and the man John Zachary DeLorean, may never be answered, but here are some things we do know.  Answers to these questions may vary from person to person, so what I've written here are the facts as I have heard them.

Why is the car made of stainless steel?

John DeLorean wanted to build a car that would look good for a long time.  After working for GM, he had become frustrated with the planned obsolescence the company used to sell new model year vehicles.  Stainless steel won't rust and looks great years later.  I can attest that while other parts of the car can show their age, the stainless steel looks beautiful with minimum maintenance still 35 years after my car was built.

What happened to the DeLorean Company?

The simple answer is that is still exists and its headquarters are in Dallas, Texas.  The long answer has filled many books, but essentially the company hit hard financial times back in the early 80's when it wasn't selling enough cars to support the number they were producing.  After the company had basically declared bankruptcy, but still held hope for restructuring, John DeLorean was caught in an FBI drug bust in California attempting to raise millions of dollars to save the company.  He was later acquitted on the grounds of entrapment because the entire deal was orchestrated by the FBI, but it was a disgraceful end to the original DeLorean company.

How many DeLoreans were made?

About 9,000.  From what I understand, no one knows the exact number of cars DMC built.  About 7,000 are still on the road.  DMC has announced plans to build a brand new DeLorean supercar, but it won't look much like the original DeLorean.

How does the DeLorean drive?

I've heard it described as a sports "looking" car and that it was never intended to be categorized as a sports car.  It has no power steering and no power brakes, so the controls feel heavy.  To be blunt, it drives kind of like a bread truck.  It's a heavy car with slow acceleration, but you can find a thrill in the corners where it's low ride and firm suspension pay off.  Generally speaking, I find it more pleasant to look at than to drive--except for the reactions I get from other drivers.  The interior is fairly sparse and the A/C struggles to keep up when it's really hot outside.

Where were the DeLoreans built?

Ireland.  Dunmurry, to be exact, in Belfast.  DeLorean struck a sweet deal with the British government to build the factory there in the hopes that jobs would bring hope to the people of Belfast and put and end to The Troubles.  For some of the adult employees, if was the first job they'd had in their lives.  The first cars off the line had to be essentially entirely rebuilt in California when they arrived at the DMC Quality Assurance centers due to issues in getting the factory up and running effectively.  From what I understand, some vehicles were made in Cleveland, Ohio in DMC's final year.

When were the cars built?

DeLoreans have model years from 1981 to 1983.

What happened to John DeLorean?

That's a good question.  Most of the books about him end with the drug bust.  He never built another car and I can't find any evidence of what he did for a living after he was acquitted.  He had made plenty of money before embarking on the DeLorean car and I've heard it suggested that he may have made off with some money intended for the production of the car and lived off that, but he spent the rest of his life in and out of court dealing with bankruptcy issues.