The DeLorean: Commercial Failure, but Never Out of Style

The DeLorean DMC-12 managed to rise above the rubble and remains to this day as one of the most iconic vehicles of all time, despite its troubled past and low production numbers. While only 9,200 DeLoreans were made in its original run between 1981-1983, the surviving models have been displayed around the world in museums, theme parks, and in films, most notably the Back To The Future trilogy.

The issues surrounding the birth of the DeLorean were many – ranging from untested manufacturing technology to schedule pressures to bankruptcy as the owner of the DeLorean Motor Company was arrested and charged with drug trafficking (while he was found not guilty, the damage had already been done and the company went bankrupt). After production halted, it would take several years for someone to once again take a chance on the brushed steel beauty (Stephen Wynne began assembling the vehicles with remaining parts inventory in 1995, though the replica production has been slowed by legalities).

A unique vehicle due in part to its gull-wing doors (which use cryogenically preset torsion bars and gas-charged struts) and external brushed stainless steel body panels, it should also be noted that it is unique for its rear-mounted engine. These and other changes, such as a right-hand drive option, a “dead” pedal, and hood style re-working were made to the car’s design throughout production.

There are also a few extra-special DeLoreans, such as the three gold-plated vehicles completed as part of a promotion with American Express and Consolidated International (more commonly known as Big Lots).

While you may not be able to see a DeLorean in action, there are a few places where you can marvel at the majesty of these rare vehicles, such as the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, and several museums in California. There are also DeLoreans on display in Japan, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.