America is a car culture. It was raised on the road, whether on family road trips to see relatives or through commerce that shuttled from city to city on trucks. The Car of the Week takes a look at one of those vehicles as a way to not only look back at automotive changes but the history that created them.
Published in the Tacoma Weekly
Many “classic” cars can be given the title of “ahead of their time,” but only the DeLorean can claim the title on the silver screen.
The 1983 DeLorean DMC 12 was made famous by the “Back to the Future” Hollywood movie franchise that featured the rear-engine, gull-winged car as its time machine.
The brainchild of John DeLorean, the Pontiac manager responsible for the GTO and the Firebird Trans-Am, DeLorean Motor Co. was ahead of its time in other ways. What made it stand out first was the fact that the car maker was partially financed by the British government as a way to boost the economy of Northern Ireland, which was suffering from high unemployment. The V-6 engine was developed by Peugeot, Renault and Volvo, with the plan being that all four car manufacturers would be able to share the engine development costs.
The car itself was designed by the Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro and was most known for its flip-up doors that created a bird-like shape and its fiberglass and brushed steel body that was meant to never have to be painted, was corrosion-proof and would be resistant to blemishes.
It was ahead of its time when first made in 1980, maybe too far ahead. At a base cost of $25,000, it was a bit expensive for middle-class car buyers and the company’s “creative financing” forced the Brits to pull the plug after just two years of production during the deepest slump in the car market since the Great Depression. DeLorean Motor Co. went bankrupt in late 1982, after its founder was arrested on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but the publicity of the trial had doomed the company. Only, 8,742 units were produced, although the DeLorean Motor Co. in Texas owns the rights to the name and manufactures cars on demand from reproduction parts.