memories of the ’80s – DeLorean

With the numerous cars produced each year, in a decade is there one that is memorable? For the 1980s, the DeLorean was the talk of the auto world and also became a Hollywood star.

Created by auto executive John DeLorean, DeLorean Motor Company was originally founded in 1975. As the youngest person to become a senior auto executive at General Motors Company in Detroit, DeLorean decided to create his own brand and car company.

Working with a variety of financial backers, including entertainers Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr., DeLorean put together his business plan to create his vision of a sports car.

In order to find the right spot for manufacturing, DeLorean looked at Ireland, Puerto Rico and finally settled on Northern Ireland as the place to manufacture his car. He believed choosing a place with high unemployment would also help him gain access to reduced tarriffs and better government support of his business.

DMCL was built in a suburb of Belfast, but although the construction started in 1978, delays due to engineering and inexperience continued until 1981. DeLorean created Quality Assurance Centers in the US in order to streamline any small issues with the cars and by 1982, the DMC 12 a stainless steel gull-winged car was being sold in the US. DeLorean needed sales of 12,000 to break even, and in its first year, the sportscar sold 6000 units.

Many felt the car was an impractical plaything and its price of $25,000 too high for the marketplace. DeLorean tried to raise money for his flailing company and was refused funding from the British government unless he could find matching funds in 1982. And then things took an odd turn, with DeLorean arrested in a sting operation with the FBI accusing him of cocaine trafficking. DeLorean was found not guilty, but his reputation was forever tarnished by this odd turn of events.

By the end of 1982, DMCL went bust, taking the $100 million investment and 2500 jobs with it. In total 9000 cars were made in the manufacturing time periord, but the records can’t confirm all were released out of production to be sold.

But in 1985, DeLorean had its Hollywood moment, becoming the third lead in the box office smash Back to the Future with Michael J. Fox. The car was modified by Doc Brown to become a time machine, and was the definite cool symbol of the future when driven by Fox through this film and its consequent sequels.

To this day, there are 6500 DMC 12 cars on the road – a unique symbol of one man’s attempt at creating his own brand in the competitive car world.

About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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