John DeLorean founded the DeLorean Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 1975. He was already well known in the automobile industry as a capable engineer, business innovator, and youngest person to become a General Motors (GM) executive. Investment capital came primarily in the form of business loans from the Bank of America and from the formation of partnerships and private investment from select parties, including The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson and entertainers Roy Clark and Sammy Davis, Jr..
DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighborhood a few miles from Belfast city centre.
The lack of demand, cost overruns, and unfavorable exchange rates began to take their toll on DMC's cash flow in late 1981. The company had estimated their break-even point to be between 10,000 and 12,000 units, but sales were only around 6,000. In response to the income shortfall, a restructuring plan was devised where a new "DeLorean Motors Holding Company" would be formed, which in turn would have become corporate parent to DMC and each of its subsidiaries: DeLorean Motor Cars Limited, DeLorean Motor Cars of America and DeLorean Research Partnership.
In the end, sufficient funds could not be raised to keep the company alive. DMC went bust in 1982, taking with it 2,500 jobs and over $100 million in investments. The British government attempted to revive some usable remnants of the manufacturing facility without success, and the Dunmurry, Northern Ireland factory was closed.
A large number of the original cars are still on the road after over 25 years; most estimates put it at 6,500 cars surviving out of just over 9,000 built. There is an active enthusiast community around the cars, with strong owners' clubs. A number of businesses were set up after the demise of DMC to provide parts and service, and most of those are still in existence. In particular, DMC (based in Humble, Texas), operates under entirely new ownership. It acquired the original company's assets, now owns trademark and copyright registrations for the brand and the DMC-12 automobile, and inventories the largest remaining original parts stock from the factory, US stock and original suppliers.
In October 1976, the first prototype DeLorean DMC-12 was completed by William T. Collins, chief engineer and designer (formerly chief engineer at Pontiac). Originally, the car was intended to have a Citroen/NSU Comotor Wankel rotary engine, mounted amid-ship. The engine selection was reconsidered when Comotor production ended, and the favored engine became Ford's "Cologne V6." Eventually the French/Swedish PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) fuel injected V6, was selected. Also the engine location moved from the mid-engined location in the prototype to a rear-engined installation in the production car. The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as Elastic Reservoir Moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable.
These and other changes to the original concept led to considerable schedule pressures. The entire car was deemed to require almost complete re-engineering, which was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder and owner of Lotus. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus. The backbone chassis is very similar to that of the Lotus Esprit. The original Giorgetto Giugiaro body design was left mostly intact, as were the distinctive stainless steel outer skin panels and gull-wing doors.
DMC-12s were primarily intended for the American market despite being produced in Northern Ireland. All production models were therefore left-hand drive. Evidence survives from as early as April 1981, however, which indicates that the DeLorean Motor Company was aware of the need to produce a right-hand drive version to supply to world markets such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction adventure comedy film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson and a heavily modified Delorean DMC-12. The film tells the story of Marty McFly, a teenager who is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955. He meets his future-parents in high school and accidentally attracts his future mother's romantic interest. Marty must repair the damage to history by causing his parents-to-be to fall in love, and with the help of scientist Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, he must find a way to return to 1985.