This DeLorean DMC-12 has been carefully modified into a Back to the Future-style time machine, including the addition of a Mr Fusion, a flux capacitor, external wiring, and many switches, circuits, and panels replicated from the original.

The use of the DeLorean in the film trilogy turned the car from a failure to one of the most famous automobiles on the face of the earth almost overnight. Even today almost 30 years after the first film in the series was released people on the street immediately recognize it from its role in the films.

Fast Facts – A DeLorean DMC-12 “Time Machine”

  • The DeLorean DMC-12 was destined to be a revolutionary vehicle, the prototype was initially known as the DSV-1, or “DeLorean Safety Vehicle,” and it was to incorporate a unit construction plastic chassis, a mid-engine layout, a driver’s airbag, and 10 mph bumpers.
  • The project was launched by John DeLorean, a veteran of the American automobile industry and the creator of the Pontiac GTO among many other vehicles.
  • The final production DeLorean would have the engineering done by Colin Chapman and his team at Lotus, with a body designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Italdesign.
  • Ultimately the DeLorean would be a failure, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1982 just two years after production began with approximately 6,500 built. The car would go on to become a pop culture icon thanks in no small part to its prominent use in the “Back to the Future” trilogy from 1985 to 1989.

The DSV-1 “DeLorean Safety Vehicle”

In the late 1970s John DeLorean set out to fulfill a lifelong dream and start his own car company. Little did he know that within a few short years his company would collapse and he would be arrested for the FBI for attempting to smuggle large quantities of cocaine on his private jet.

DeLorean Concept Car

Image DescriptionThis is an early design drawing of the DeLorean by celebrated automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro.

The DeLorean project started out with the best of intentions, he intended to build a futuristic car with state-of-the-art design and a slew of modern safety features using an all-new plastic unibody chassis using elastic reservoir moulding (ERM) technology.

The car was to be called the DSV-1 or “DeLorean Safety Vehicle,” it was planned to have a centrally-mounted Wankel rotary engine, a driver’s airbag, 10 mph bumpers, and a computerized central warning system that would check fluid levels and warn of issues like low brake pad thickness.

During the development and engineering process it became clear that ERM was never going to be suitable for this kind of automotive use, and many of the technologies proved too difficult to implement for production.

The engineering was turned over to Colin Chapman and his team at Lotus who did what they did best – they developed a lightweight fiberglass body over a steel backbone chassis with independent front and rear suspension and a mid-engine layout – fundamentally the same arrangement that they used on their own cars like the Esprit and the earlier Europa.

The DeLorean Safety Vehicle name was dropped in favor of the name DeLorean DMC-12 – the 12 was a reference to the planned US sales price of $12,000 USD. In the end this name would also be dropped and at the time of its release it was simply called the DMC DeLorean. That said, to this day it’s still most commonly referred to as the DMC-12.

John DeLorean with an early design prototype of the DeLorean DMC-12

Image DescriptionJohn DeLorean resting on an early styling prototype of the DeLorean DMC-12.

The one thing the DeLorean did have going for it was its styling. It had been penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Italdesign, a man many consider to be the greatest automobile designer of the 20th century. Its fiberglass body was given a series of outer panels made from brushed stainless steel, which combined with its gullwing doors ensured that it looked like nothing else on the road.

The DeLorean DMC-12 + Back To The Future

By the time promotion of the DMC-12 began in 1980 the project was already in series financial trouble, and had been largely propped up by investment from the Irish government who were hoping to spur jobs grown in the region.

By the time of its release the car was underpowered thanks to its 2.85 liter V6 PRV engine and its anemic 130 hp output, and it was over twice as expensive as originally intended with a sticker price of $25,000 USD versus the original projected cost of $12,000 USD.

These two factors combined with a series of quality control issues resulted in very poor sales and production was shutdown in 1982 when the company entered bankruptcy with approximately 6,500 cars completed. John DeLorean was set up in an FBI sting operation to smuggle cocaine on his private jet and arrested – he was later found not guilty due to police entrapment.

This would have been the end of the DeLorean if it wasn’t for an unusual science fiction film released in 1985 called Back to the Future. The film’s original draft used a refrigerator as the time machine, however this was changed due to concerns by Steven Spielberg about children attempting to emulate the film by climbing into refrigerators and potentially suffocating.

DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 8

Image DescriptionThe DMC-12 in this article has all the Back to the Future time machine additions, including the date clocks, internal and external wiring, the flux capacitor, and the Mr Fusion on the back.

As a result of these concerns Robert Zemickis suggested a DeLorean, largely because it was so unique looking and would look like an alien spacecraft to a 1950s-era American family.

The DeLorean would play a pivotal role in all three films, turning the car from a quirky failure into a major 1980s pop culture icon in the process. If Back to the Future had been released back when the DeLorean was still in production it may very well have spurred sales and saved the company, for a time at least.

DeLorean was recently brought back with an all-new four-seat electric car slated for production, and the company explains that a number of cars are planned to follow.

The DeLorean DMC-12 “Time Machine” Shown Here

The car you see here is a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 that’s been given a painstaking rebuild into a replica of the time machine from Back to the Future, specially the version used later in the series with the Mr Fusion reactor on the back.

This car features all the same external and internal wiring, inside you’ll find a flux capacitor, the date computer, and all the other bells and whistles.

The car it’s based on is the 3-speed automatic DeLorean and it has black and grey leather upholstery, air conditioning, and 23,000 miles on the odometer.

It’s currently being offered for sale on Bring a Trailer out of Abbotsford in British Columbia, Canada and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.

DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 13 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 1 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 21 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 20 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 19 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 18 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 17 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 16 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 15 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 14 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 12 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 11 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 10 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 9 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 7 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 6 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 4 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 3 DeLorean DMC-12 Time Machine 2

Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -