Is the DeLorean Time Machine Staging a 2017 Comeback?
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Case in point: The DeLorean DMC-12 left the market in 1983, seemingly consigned to automotive history. Then in 1985, it was cast as a time machine in Back to the Future, catapulting the car to the forefront of popular culture, and making it more popular than it had been when it was in production. And now, in an instance of life imitating art, the DeLorean is back after a 33-year absence, and it’s exactly as we remembered it.
With 2015 now behind us, we now know that Back to the Future II got a lot wrong in its predictions. We don’t have hoverboards (though Lexus tried), the Cubs didn’t win the World Series (though they did make the playoffs), and most importantly, we don’t have flying cars yet. But none of that matters now because they did get one important thing right: The DeLorean is still here.
In our June profile of the DMC-12, we mentioned how the Low Volume Motor Vehicles Act of 2015 (H.R. 2675) could lead to the model re-entering production, saying:
A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives would allow small manufacturers who build fewer than 500 cars a year to offer these models to the public, albeit with current engines and emissions systems. The current auto manufacturing laws were written specifically with major automakers, their budgets, and production capacities in mind. The new bill, if passed, could potentially create a whole new marketplace of boutique manufacturers bringing classic cars back to life.
In December, H.R. 2675 was signed into law, meaning that for 2017, DeLorean DMC-12 will be a new limited-production model for the first time since 1981, albeit with three big exceptions: It’ll have a different engine, it’ll be built in Texas, not Belfast, Ireland, and it’ll be 36 years older than every other new car on the market.
The story on how the 2017 DeLorean (let that sink in for a second) came to be is one of the stranger stories in automotive history. The DMC-12’s story seemingly ended in late 1982 when founder John DeLorean was arrested in a FBI drug sting (he was later acquitted), and the British government seized the factory and sold off its assets in an attempt to recoup some of its $100 million investment. Oddly enough, all remaining parts were bought by Consolidated International, known today as Big Lots. The stock sat in a warehouse for over a decade until it was bought by the new DeLorean Motor Company and moved to Texas, where the company is headquartered today.
This new American-based DeLorean has been an invaluable asset to the very active owner’s community, providing restoration services and new old-stock support for virtually every part on the DMC-12. It has so much stock, in fact, that it’s been exploring ways to use it all to build new models for years. Thanks to H.R. 2675, now it can.
Unlike the countless number of Shelby Cobra “replicas” out there, the ’17 DeLorean will be the real deal, largely made from original parts produced alongside finished cars over 30 years ago. These new DMC-12s are expected to sell for around $100,000, and production is likely limited to 50 cars a year.
But don’t worry about spending 100 grand on a new car that feels like a 36-year-old used car; there will be some important concessions made to automotive evolution. It will have a modernized center stack and HVAC system, though it will likely be designed to fit without modifying the dashboard. It also will have an upgraded suspension, bigger brakes, and bigger wheels, which should make it feel a lot more modern than its ’80s-era counterparts. Most importantly, the original 2.8-liter Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 is a thing of the past thanks to EPA guidelines. It won’t be missed by many — at an underwhelming 130 horsepower, it was largely considered to be the Achilles heel of the original car.
Speaking with Jalopnik, company vice president James Espey said that the company is reviewing three powertrain options for the ’17 model, and is leaning towards a V6 unit that could be tuned to make 300-400 horsepower, making the new DMC-12 one hell of a lot more powerful than it was in 1981. According to the company’s website, it’s still in the early stages of making this all happen, saying, “A number of hurdles exist before production can begin, and we’re still early on in this process of determining the feasibility of moving forward.” Regardless of what’s powering the rear wheels, we’re just excited — and still a little bit in shock — that a new/old DMC-12 will soon be back in production. It’s almost too bad someone already made a movie about a DeLorean time machine; you can’t make something like this up.