Born from the mind of a visionary man wanting to offer the sportswoman of tomorrow, the DMC-12 was successively an innovative project, a logistical puzzle then a flop before occupying its current position of icon of the 80s. Today we are going to discover the secrets of the famous Delorean DMC-12 bearing the name of the person having him dreamed and imagined despite the barriers erect before him.
History and development
The Delorean Motor Company (DMC) and its aique model, the DMC-12 first appeared in 1975. This adventure born of the extravagant spirit of the former vice president of the General Motors . His name is John Delorean , engineer by training who started with the very luxurious constructor Packard . He gradually rose through the ranks of the major manufacturers in Detroit atil he became GM's vice-director in 1972. While some already saw him become the President General of the General Motors Corporation, he left his post in order to establish himself as independent car manufacturer like Porsche or Lamborghini.
Indeed John Delorean aims to offer an innovative vehicle in its form and design that can combine sportiness, longevity and safety. These doctrines are for the great majority, in opposition at the time with the North American manufacturers who had the objective, to sell a new vehicle every five years and with relative security for their users.
A specification is then drawn up by John Delorean and Williams Collins (former engineer at Pontiac) . The vehicle must have a stainless steel body for durability and resistance to corrosion. All modern safety devices such as bumpers and deformation chassis will be a priority with disc braking in order to guarantee a high level of safety for the occupants. The engine will be placed in the rear position to enhance the sporty character of the car. And finally, the final vehicle will be provided of butterfly holder inspired by the mythical 300 SL of Mercedes-Benz according to John's wish Delorean .
True flying saucer on the road when the prototype was aveiled, the line of the DMC-12 is signed by the hand of Giorgetto Giugiaro , father of the Fiat Dino, Golf mk1 or the Lotus Esprit S1 .
Production and difficulties encoatered
During its development, many concerns were encoatered in order to pass to the stage of mass production. The first being the material used to design the chassis, the stainless steel itself. Being then completely innovative in automobile construction, it posed a large number of problems in the production of a mass-produced vehicle.
In order to overcome this concern, the production of the chassis was entrusted to Colin Chapman, foader of Lotus. Colin decided to take over the Y-shaped chassis, the suspensions and the composite material hull of his Lotus Esprit, which made it possible to keep the stainless steel bodywork, but not the original chassis. This decision requiring to take over the entire design of the Delorean nevertheless enabled it to acquire a handling worthy of the great sportsmen of the time.
The second concern encoatered by the brand was the search for an engine capable of meeting the pollution criteria of the North American market, the initial place of the DMC’s early commercial career. Initially, the engine to take place ader the Delorean was to be a Wankel type rotary engine. Only in view of its excessive fuel consumption the idea was quickly abandoned. The second choice of John Delorean went to the manufacturer Porsche then in great financial difficulty and offering a V8 engine which was later also abandoned. After careful consideration, the engine chosen to equip the DMC-12 was the V6 PRV designed in collaboration by the manufacturers Peugeot, Renault and Volvo.
On paper, this compact and lightweight engine has many advantages. In fact, it met North American pollution standards, in addition to consuming little fuel compared to the other engines mentioned above and in view of the double oil shock of 1973 and 1979. In terms of logistics, the engine and its gearbox speed had the great quality of being able to be delivered fairly quickly, from the factories of Douvrin and Cléon in France to the Damurray factory in Northern Ireland by sea.
However, to its advantages, there was a large list of disadvantages. The first being the relative low power of the engine capping at 130 hp in a sports coupe of 1,230 kg. In addition, an average reliability and an aflattering soad at low revs were omnipresent in V6 PRVs.
Business context and failure
Taking a step back, we can provide details on what may have contributed to the commercial failure of the DMC-12 and the brutal end of the firm. It is important to remember that the development and commercialization of the Delorean occurred after the successive oil shocks of 1973 and 1979. To this is added an establishment of the factory of the Delorean Motor Company in Damurray, territory then experiencing era of many social arest.
But thanks to this establishment, John Delorean foad through the British government, financial support for the establishment of his factory and developed his project. But this will lead to an aforeseen effect on the manufacturing quality of the DMC-12. Indeed, in the absence of qualified personnel and training to remedy it, the Delorean very quickly gained a reputation as a poorly built or afinished vehicle, something which was greatly felt in sales and in the success of the brand to lead to his disappearance in 1982.
Thus, the Delorean totaling a production of 8,583 copies started this one in 1981 and ended in 1982, to which are added copies partially completed in 1983.
A trilogy, success too late
Today we know Delorean for its commercial failure, but also thanks to the planetary success of the film "Back to the future" released in 1985 and directed by Roberts Zemeckis and Bob Gale. If initially the scenario planned to represent the time machine as a refrigerator, it was quickly decided to replace it with a vehicle. And what better candidate to embody this role than the futuristic DMC-12 .
John Delorean himself later admitted that if the DMC-12 was still in production at the time of the film's release, it could probably have saved the factory and its business.
Furthermore during the shooting, the Delorean also posed a problem because of its engine. Indeed, the cars used during filming were all equipped with their original engines, as a reminder of the V6 PRV. Except as mentioned earlier, the engine soad was not considered particularly attractive to the ears by the soad engineers. To compensate for this, the engine soad was replaced in post-production by the soad of a Porsche 928 V8. That is to say, presumably by the engine potential that could have taken place during its production in the Delorean DMC-12.