The Story Behind the First DeLorean Prototype
Former Pontiac and Chevrolet Chief Engineer, William T. Collins, completed the first DeLorean prototype in October of 1976. Initially, the Citroën engine was meant to be the rear-mounted power plant for the car, it was later decided that the Wankel rotary engine was to replace it. The Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 engine was utilized because of it’s reputation for high-efficiency. Collins and DeLorean designed a unique chassis through the production of an experimental technology i.e. Elastic Reservoir Moulding (ERM). This technology was used to lighten the vehicle and lessen production expenses. Although DeLorean did receive patent rights for using the new technology, it was later determined that the technology did not match the requirements of the overall project.
The development of this new technology slowed the momentum of the project and stalled collective production efforts. A comprehensive re-engineering process was carried out for the vehicle and the project was then handed over to Colin Chapman, the founder and owner of Lotus. Chapman modified production techniques and began utilizing production materials designed specifically by the Lotus production team. Only the initial Giorgetto Giugiaro body design, outer skin panels and gull-wing doors were not changed by Chapman. The process of vacuum assisted resin injection (VARI) and Backbone chassis was implemented by Lotus.
A budget of $175 million was agreed upon by DeLorean for the development of motor company after the successful debut of the DMC-1 in a Dunmurry factory located in Northern Island, a few miles near the Belfast city centre. The British government funded the ambitious project, whose desire was to suppress the on-going sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Construction began in October of 1978, and the DeLorean DMC-12 started production in early 1981. The state-of-the-art factory took just 28 months to complete construction and produce automobiles. Many of workers were inexperienced in automobile production, but were highly compensated for their efforts. Quality issues plagued the early production of the DMC-12, and most were alleviated by late 1981. DeLorean dealers were given 50,000 mile/5 year warranties to alleviate quality concerns.
DeLorean Motor Company filed for bankruptcy in late 1982 which then led to the arrest of John Delorean on charges of drug trafficking. DeLorean was later released due to a lack of evidence. DeLorean did not resume working for the DeLorean Motor Company after his release. In 1983, all factory materials and equipment were shipped to Columbus, Ohio and were then later sold to retail and wholesale clients by the KAPAC.
From January 1981 to December 1982, DeLorean developed 9,200 DMC-12’s using 1981 models having VINs ending with BD000500 to BD007199. Many of 1981 models were later modified and converted into 1983 models by Consolidated International, which purchased the 1981 models from DeLorean. They are now recognized through VINs ending in DD015XXX, DD016XXX, and DD017XXX VINs. 2,500 DMC-12 1982 models were produced from January to December having VIN’s ending in CD010001 to CD011786. The production line managed by former employees was also able to assemble 100 DMC-12’s from miscellaneous parts. The Big Lits (i.e Consolidated International) hired these former employees and later purchased all other remaining unsold cars having the VIN’s from DD020101 to DD020105.