Back to the present: Here's how a small Texas firm is bringing back the DeLorean


Flickr/Robbie Shade

An original 1982 DMC-12

A small Texas-based firm will restart production of the infamous DeLorean DMC-12 - of "Back to the Future" fame - early next year, producing a modernized version of the 1980s vintage car.

James Espey, VP of DMC Texas, said they plan to produce about 300 cars for four years.

The new DeLorean, the first produced since 1983, will contain many of the creature comforts expected in modern cars. Which means no more cassette player.Advertisement

They will also be "considerably more powerful" due to a yet-to-be named engine sourced from an American manufacturer.

The original DeLorean had a notoriously unimpressive 130 horsepower powerplant, even when aided by an aftermarket flux capacitor.

DMC Texas, which has so far been dedicated to keeping the approximately 6,500 remaining DeLoreans on the road by supplying spare parts and restoration work, will take advantage of the newly-passed "Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act" that exempts small manufacturers of vintage cars from the same standards faced by large automakers.

Espey believes the company will be able to avoid many of the most common problems experienced by the old cars.

"We like to think we've had 9,000 prototypes on the road for many years; we know pretty much everything that can go wrong," Espey said.As for the DeLorean's particular reputation for unreliability: "It's a common misconception," Espey said.Advertisement

Since acquiring the full stock of spare parts from the original DeLorean factory in Belfast, Ireland in 1997, they have become the go-to source for owners. Among their five locations, they see over 100 cars a year.

"We have a 40,000 square-foot warehouse filled with parts," Espey said.

That will enable them to build 300 new cars over the next four years from almost entirely original components while still maintaining ample spares for both old and new DeLoreans.Advertisement

Why so many parts? That has to do with the odd history of the original DeLorean Motor Company.

After convincing a handful of investors - including celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr. and Johnny Carson - to put money into the new venture, former Pontiac designer John DeLorean set up shop in Belfast, hoping to produce 30,000 cars in his first few years.

back to the future


"The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?"

Due to the troubled politics of 1980s Ireland, DeLorean feared that if his suppliers were to be affected by the ongoing violence, he would have to shut down production.Advertisement

Unlike most car companies, which like to have only enough parts on hand to maintain daily production (so-called "lean" or just-in-time manufacturing), DeLorean ordered nearly 30,000 cars-worth up front.

Things didn't go well, and after financial woes and an arrest for drug trafficking (later dropped), DeLorean went belly-up, having only produced about 9,200 vehicles. The parts sat in the abandoned factory for more than a decade before DMC Texas scooped them up.

Of course, few cars with such a limited history ever acquire the beloved stature of the DeLorean.Advertisement

After local media reported they would begin producing DeLoreans, the story went viral. DMC Texas has since been inundated with calls from media outlets around the world.

"Undoubtedly a good deal of [the DeLorean's appeal] is because of 'Back to the Future.'" Espey said. "At any given moment, that movie is probably being played somewhere, and someone who has never heard of a Mustang or a Firebird or a Camaro falls in love with the DeLorean. Our customer base is constantly refreshing,"