"You built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?" Marty McFly couldn't quite believe his eyes and neither could we. That's because the DMC-12 didn't have the greatest of reputations before the Back to the Future trilogy. Prone to breaking down and suffering from poor build quality (it was made in Belfast during a time when unemployment was high and workers at the Dunmurry plant were largely inexperienced...) but a healthy dose of movie magic helped it outshine co-star Michael J Fox. With those futuristic looks, it was absolutely the star of the show and its reputation was enhanced, and how.
When the two-door sportscar, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, was launched for the US market in 1981 by John Delorean's Delorean Motor Company, much was expected from the sleek coupé. It boasted gull-wing doors and had a fibreglass underbody with a brushed stainless-steel finish, which made it look way ahead of its time.
It was back in 1976 when the concept showed up. It was to be produced using a revolutionary manufacturing technology that would not only simplify the car's construction but keep its weight down. John DeLorean bought the patent rights for the untested chassis only to find it unsuitable. The DMC-12 was already haemorrhaging money without one even being built. He needed substantial backing to get the company up and running and so he brought in his Hollywood pals including Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr to invest in the firm.
Efforts were also made to redesign the car. Colin Chapman sorted out the troubled chassis, replacing most of the unproven material in favour of techniques employed by Lotus. As a result, it had a backbone just like the one in the Esprit while power came from a 2.8-litre Ford Cologne V6. This was mounted at the back and mated to either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic.