W h i p S p o t # 3
80s & 90s Pop culture holds no other automobile in such high esteem as the Delorean. Strangely, this car was by no means a popular, fast, or even commercially successful vehicle during it's time, but somehow the design & charm of this would-be icon & it's obscure history made it the perfect candidate for the role it would eventually play in captivating the imagination of present & future generations following it's silver screen debut. The Delorean is predominantly known by most as Doc Brown & Marty Mcfly's time machine from the 80's cult classic 'Back to the Future trilogy'. What many don't know is that it showed potential for success pre-launch, & that it's inception was heavily linked to ideas of social, political & economic reform in Northern Ireland at the time. The man behind the machine 'John Delorean', was an american auto impresario of his day. In fact he was General Motor's youngest ever executive. With such accolade & momentum the young innovator sought to make his mark on the world with his very own car manufacturer. Starting off on the right foot, Delorean approached designer Giorgetto Giugiaro to create the company's flagship model. Giugiaro was renowed at the time and would go on to be named car designer of the century in 1999 with his most commercially successful design being the cult classic VW Golf Mk1.
With financial investment from a range of sources Delorean set about exploiting the unemployment rate in northern island as a means to aide the English government's attempts at reducing religious & social unrest by means of a car factory & product that would increase local employment, improve social mobility, help bridge religious indifference and guarantee government support through financing & export credit. The plan worked for a while until the company came up against a plethora of logistical & financial obstacles, some of which by Delorean's own account were clandestine in nature with notes of sabotage. The likes of which even his entrepreneurial charisma could not curtail. Despite pre-orders, future models in the pipeline & all of John Delorean's connections across the industry, the company ran into liquidation, Delorean declared bankrupcy & faced legal charges over alleged drug trafficking. Despite his acquittal, these circumstances ruined Delorean's reputation.
Regardless of the Man behind the machine, the machine itself is still an achievement & outstanding concept of it's time featuring an array of totally unique ideas that have helped crystalise the Delorean's place within a sphere of retro-modern classics that are respected for their unique qualities & aesthetic above all else. Which is quite impressive when you consider the Delorean is a GT (Grand Touring) sports car that isn't the least bit sporty. By today's equivalent prices the Delorean would set you back around $70,000 US. Placing the car in same price bracket as a Porsche 911. In 1983 a 911 could put down 235BHP @ 174kW, whereas the Delorean would offer a lackluster 130BHP @ 97kW. There are of course other factors to consider such as power to weight ratios & build materials etc, but these figures allow you to discern what a machine of this price tag & class should/could produce in terms of power output. If you compare design & use of chassis, the Delorean used is a double Y shaped frame just like the Lotus Esprit. Observe an 'Esprit 2' & you'll see an instant likeness. The 1980 'Essex Esprit Turbo' was capable of 210BHP @ 157kW. Once again, such a basic comparison doesn't encompass a range of design details & factors, but it poignantly illustrates what other more established manufacturers where able to achieve with the same platform. On a positive note, one pleasant feature of the Delorean is it's body work, with panels made from Austenitic 304 corrosion resistant brushed stainless Steel (mouthful!). No other manufacturer had the notion to output a model with such an industrial & revolutionary look. Whilst this reduced each owner's individuality, it still set each car apart from essentially every other vehicle on the road due to it's unique finish. The futuristic elements don't stop there. Gull-Wing doors that assert the Delorean's cool factor are supported by, get this, 'Cryogenically preset torsion bars with nitrogen charged struts. I.e. a preset position that's been frozen and kept at a very low temperature state aided with powered struts for ease of use. Meaning very heavy doors are effortless to operate. Which make these 1981 designed doors far superior to today's gas-powered Lambo-style door kits you see on modified-cars that require a considerable about of energy to lift into place, which then gradually lose power with constant use & eventually don't stay up at all! For a car built some 40 years ago this is quite impressive.
Before the demise of the manufacturer a twin turbo-charged version of the Delorean was on the horizon. 'Legend Industries' were able to bring the 0-60mph time down from 9.5secs to an impressive 5.8 secs! Which begs the question, had Delorean implemented twin-turbo charged engines from the onset of production, would the Delorean have suffered the same fate? Such power output would have rivaled some of the highest performing vehicles at the time & arguably changed the accolade and reception of Delorean's 1st try at bat. After all, sports cars at base need to be fast enough to satisfy the 'need for speed' owners pay premium prices for.
Thankfully, all was not lost. In 1995 Stephen Wynne a British car manufacturer purchased the logo & remaining stock from the Delorean Motor Company and started a new venture specialising in servicing & parts sales, as well as various forms of merchandise that capitalises on the notoriety the car has gained through it's pop-culture status. A timeless aesthetic has allowed the Delorean to outlive it's rivals in ways few could've predicted. Surely a lesson for us all in the power of both positive & negative publicity.
Production 1981 to 1982
Manufactured - Dunmurry Belfast
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro
0-60mph in 8.8secs
2.85L V6 PRV:Peugeot-Renault-Volvo Engine