Former Employees Gather for 35th Anniversary
Attending a reunion can summon a bag of mixed emotions for many. From seeing old co-workers to re-connecting with high school classmates and more, looking back can stir up a lot of unresolved feelings. This may happen for the 150 former DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) employees who will be attending a reunion for the now defunct car manufacturer on May 3-5, 2015 in Northern Ireland.
The Best of Times
Gathering at the Culloden Hotel in Belfast, DMC employees from top executives to production line workers will reminisce about the company that created the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 automobile 35 years ago. “The common denominator is that everyone considers it to be the best time of their working lives,” says Barrie Willis, former purchasing director and the company’s last CEO. “We went from a cow pasture outside Belfast to shipping cars to dealers in California in 28 months.” The attendees will visit the former factory just outside of Belfast where 9,800 cars were produced in 1981-82.
Back to the Future and Beyond
Most people today may only know the DeLorean DMC-12 as the time traveling car in the Back to the Future movies, yet the car’s own history is the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster. It is a story filled with big dreams and big disappointments and it is all centered on one man, John Z. DeLorean.
Mastermind Behind Pontiac GTO Strikes Out on His Own
John DeLorean is a cultural phenomenon in his own right. He was the youngest-ever GM executive, credited with developing the Pontiac GTO. His innovative style helped boost sales for Chevy to record levels. Mr. DeLorean was also the driving force behind the Firebird and Grand Prix. A flamboyant visionary whose personal life didn’t sit well with the stuffed shirts in Detroit at the time, he left GM in 1973 to form his own company, DeLorean Motor Company.
Tough Times for DMC
Mr. DeLorean wanted to build a car that was sporty, fuel efficient and safe but reaching that goal proved difficult. “The idea was good but the timing was terrible,” says John Lamn, author of DeLorean: Stainless Steel Illusion. The first DMC-12 model cars came out in 1981 when the U.S. was in the midst of a recession. Despite the hard economic times there was a waiting list of potential customers for the new “DeLorean,” which carried an average sticker price of $25,000 - more than the cost of a Corvette or a Porsche 924 Turbo back then. Sales were slow.
Familiar Tensions Plague Production
Surprisingly, the British Government was the largest contributor of startup funds for the new company. Mr. DeLorean was able to obtain tax incentives from the British by agreeing to locate his factory in Northern Ireland, where soaring unemployment was fueling old tensions between Protestants and Catholics. The majority of the workforce at the new Belfast factory was inexperienced in automobile production and the manufacturer was soon plagued with quality issues. Correcting the production issues added to the rising costs DeLorean Motor Company faced.
They All Look the Same
When introduced to the public, the DMC-12 received mixed reviews. Its unusual design, stainless steel body and gull-wing doors were either loved or despised by car enthusiasts. Owners complained that the stainless steel body panels showed fingerprints and were too difficult to paint. None of the cars coming off the line in Belfast were painted with factory paint, so every DeLorean looked just like the next. This concerned car dealers to the point where they had their cars painted just to differentiate them from other DeLoreans on the market.
“Would you buy a used car from me?”
Lack of demand, cost overruns and unfavorable exchange rates took their toll on the company’s cash flow. The final blow came when John DeLorean’s name headlined an FBI investigation into an alleged money laundering scheme. Though charged and never convicted, the scandal was enough to put an end to his dreams of building the perfect sports car. After his acquittal, Mr. DeLorean famously asked, “Would you buy a used car from me?” DeLorean Motor Company filed for bankruptcy in 1982 - a sad end to a promising endeavor.
Loyal Fans Keep Legend Alive
After 35 years, nearly 6,500 of the 9,800 cars ever produced are still on the road today. The DMC-12 has an active enthusiast community with strong support from owner’s clubs. A number of businesses still provide parts and service. A DeLorean DMC-12 is always a popular draw at car shows, which helps to keep the legend alive.
DeLorean - Defying Convention
Even though the DeLorean DMC-12’s movie career launched a timeless vision of what a people mover would look like in the future, this car is more than just a futuristic-looking anomaly. In pursuing his dream, John DeLorean brought together some of the best and brightest in the automotive industry to design a car that defies convention. He wanted his group to think outside of the box and to push the envelope. Sometimes these attempts fail and sometimes they succeed. The DMC-12 does a little of both. One thing is for certain: John DeLorean and his team made an unforgettable car, one that will hopefully be in whatever future we travel to.
Collector and Classic Car Insurance for Less
Time travel isn’t easy, so if you want to take your DeLorean or any classic car into the great unknown, make sure it’s covered. Let our friendly staff at Classic Auto Insurance help you find the right policy for your needs. Visit our website at www.classicins.com and see how we can help safeguard your dream car.