DeLorean didn’t have the luck of the Irish

The DMC-12 was a silver dream machine, featured in three time-travelling movies starring Burnaby native Michael J. Fox.

If only the British Government could have travelled ahead in time, it could have saved the $204 million of taxpayers’ money it invested into the ill-fated car manufacturing

John DeLorean left General Motors in 1973 to fulfil his dream of building his own sports car, which was launched just two short years later. The car was designed by Giorgetti Giugiaro, who also designed the Lotus Esprit which has a striking resemblance to the DeLorean.

The DMC-12 suffered some engineering teething problems, so Colin Chapman, the owner of Lotus, was brought in to sort the car out. Chapman replaced the chassis with a backbone chassis similar to the one used in the Lotus. DeLorean negotiated a deal to use the Douvrin V6, a Peugeot/Renault/Volvo engine.

The detuned U.S. spec cars choked to meet emission standards and could only manage a zero to 100 km/h time in 10.5 seconds. And with a retail price of $28,000 they were simply too expensive.

The stainless-steel clad panels, over a vacuum assisted resin-injection bodyshell were difficult to keep clean and a little overweight. Thirty DeLorean cars were painted as part of a special paint project that Delorean and his brother Charles and his nephew Mark created with a major paint manufacturer. I recall one of these red cars running around Vancouver during the mid-’80s owned by the British cigarette company Dunhill.

The gull-wing doors were influenced by the Mercedes-Benz 300SL and perhaps our very own Canadian-built disaster, the Bricklin.
DeLorean was not blessed with the luck of the Irish — he was arrested for drug trafficking in an FBI sting one week after the Company went into receivership in 1983, just three years after production began.

The DMC-12 is still reasonably priced, parts are readily available and I would consider it a great entry level collector car.

Nigel Matthews is the director of sales and marketing for Hagerty Canada, LLC — Hagerty is the world’s largest specialist provider of collector car insurance and provides many resources that support the classic car lifestyle. Contact him at [email protected] or visit

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