If you were writing up a list of the world’s most famous cars, there’s a good chance the DeLorean DMC-12 would be on there – but there’s only really one reason for that. Because of what happened when it hit 88mph in Back to the Future with Marty McFly behind the wheel. But that was just a movie… in reality, the car itself was a bit shit.
Sure, it had futuristic styling, an innovative fibreglass chassis, unique brushed stainless steel body panels and gull-wing doors, but that is where the good news stops. Under the rear hatch sat a Peugeot/Renault/Volvo 2.85L naturally aspirated V6 engine, throwing out a yawn-inducing 97kW (130bhp). How did they get such a small amount of power out of an engine? At around the same time, Toyota were achieving the same outputs with 1.6L 4-cylinder engines. To make matters worse, the DMC-12 was quite heavy for its size, with many people describing it as being a ‘turd’ to drive.
Despite these flaws, people love the DMC-12 because of the whole Back to the Future thing, and back in 2008 a small company known as DeLorean Motor Company began refurbishing DeLorean’s after acquiring all of the remaining parts and tooling left over from the original DMC production. Refurbished DeLoreans have been selling for between $40,000 and $50,000 a piece, but things are about to change.
The American Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 will allow small auto manufacturers to produce up to 325 replicas of vehicles that are at least 25 years old, which means the new DMC is about to start producing the DeLorean again. Not refurbished cars, new ones – built from scratch. In an interview with Automobile, President of the new DMC, James Espey, said “The Low Volume Manufacturers bill has significantly changed our business model. We’re moving from just service and restoration to full low-volume manufacturing and assembly.”
DMC claims to have “thousands” of stainless steel panels and parts that will support the DMC manufactured fibreglass chassis. The company will stay true to the original DMC-12 made in 1982, but there will be some modern changes to the car. Production should start sometime in early 2017, assuming the DOT and NHTSA finalize the manufacturing rules on time. When the new DMC-12 rolls of the line in Humble, Texas, pricing is expected to be somewhere below $100,000.
This is potentially very good news, because it gives new DMC a chance to improve the DMC-12 where the original got it so wrong – the engine. The new DMC are said to be looking at a couple of different engine suppliers, one of which being GM, who offer several small-block Chevy V8’s which could be suitable. Aside from a goal of somewhere between 350 and 400bhp from the engine, new DMC-12’s would also be equipped with bigger wheels, bigger brakes and a more modern interior.
While I’m not a particularly big fan of the original DMC-12, I do like the idea of a modernised version that improves on the iconic, yet flawed original. But it does spell bad news for owners of the original, whose vehicles might end up being a little less special – considering there will potentially be an extra 325 new and improved replicas rolling out onto the roads each year.
And while they’ll still hold the bragging rights of owning an original DMC-12, I think in all other respects they’ll be green with envy.