Recently Motoring Weekly wrote a potted history about DeLorean, the stainless steel, gullwing sports car that was going to take the US by storm in the early 1980s until cash flow and legal troubles halted the infant company. When the company collapsed after making between 8,500 and 9,000 units, there was a factory full of parts and these were bought by an English ex-pat living in the US.
Steve Wynne had relocated to the US and was running a repair shop for European cars – mostly English and French low volume imports such as Renault, Peugeot and Lotus. Both the French manufacturers had a poor history in the US market with Renault having a tie up with American Motors Corp and later Chrysler. Interestingly Peugeot ended up buying the European arm of Chrysler some time later. Wynne realised that no one wanted to touch the DeLoreans that had been imported after the parent collapsed mainly because they were perceived to be filled with European tech. Wynne saw an opportunity – he knew Lotus and as the running gear came from the Renault stable, his team had the experience to work on the different pieces.
He had found that within a year of DeLorean failing, his whole business was fixing issues with the US cars and the other European business dropped away thanks to full order books on the DMC-12s. With that change to his business, Wynne started to look at getting trademarks and other legal documents to form a new “DeLorean Motor Company”. In November 1982 after the Northern Ireland factory closed, a company called Consolidated International bought all the parts – enough to build another 20,000 odd units and shipped them to Columbus in Ohio to supply them to the owners clubs that had sprung up globally.
As this was the only source of parts, Wynne became one of their best customers and by the late 1990s took a gamble and bought the remaining stock. Apparently, according to Wynne, the building in Ohio was four storeys high with about 80,000 sqm on each floor filled with car parts. Subsequently he had to build another large warehouse near his facilities in California and it took 85 trucks to move the contents! Included with the car parts was a library of documents from the original company – a hugely important historical treasure trove that miraculously contained all the design documents.
In 2015, the US Government passed a new piece of legislation that allowed for low volume manufacturing of up to 325 “turnkey replicas” that conform to the the standards of the vehicle at the time that they were originally manufactured. Wynne saw an opportunity to build some continuation cars and as the original engines were in short supply – he only had 70 in stock – the idea was to replace the motor with a more modern one putting out twice the power of the older Renault unit! It would appear that the Renault unit in the DeLorean wasn’t that reliable if owners were replacing them – remember, if DeLorean had bought enough engines to make up to 30,000 cars and they built maybe 9,000, where did 20,000 engines go? Some would certainly be sold to owners, maybe other units were sold to Renault, Peugeot or Volvo owners as replacements.
Wynne made an announcement that he wanted to build the continuation cars – he is now in effect “Mr. DeLorean”, owning all rights, trademarks and other titles to the business. The announcement suggested that they would build 300-odd a year for a few years however the number of people who registered their interest ballooned to over 5,000! It was at this point that the US Government then did what governments the world over are prone to do: they couldn’t finish the job they started. In this instance, the 2015 Act was never converted into real legislation so no one could build their cars. This isn’t really a surprise considering the mess that the US Administration became from early 2017.
The DeLorean Motor Company hasn’t started production yet, although they could – and sell them in Europe or Asia. However Wynne wants to sell them in the US and he is bemused that he can build an American car but not sell it in its home market! With the current state of politics in the US, it might be 2021 before we see a new DeLorean on US roads, assuming there is a change of Government. With 300hp instead of the original 130hp and an updated suspension geometry, the new DMC-12 would be the car that it should have been from day one. Perhaps it could be called the DMC-12 Mark 2 to distinguish it from the older sibling.