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The 2022 Return of the DeLorean?


RickR
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Longtime De Lorean owner here, checking in.

These headlines are half-truths. This is not a new Tesla, this is not a "modern" new car, nor will you see a new De Lorean dealership pop up in your town.

I usually shut these "New De Lorean" threads down because I've been down this road several times and while it's not the Amico it's not far from it. It's a headache. I've known these guys for 25 years, have had my car serviced by them, they knew me by name. They're not dishonest. But Steve Wynne and James Espey are good at harnessing the De Lorean brand for positive media exposure. Usually about once a year, recycling the same "Will the De Lorean return?" news headline. This headline has appeared in the forums on a number of occasions before as well.

These cars would be a limited run of "new" De Loreans, hand built at about 20 cars per year, to be built primarily from the existing warehouse of original, unused 1981-1983 components from the original production of De Lorean cars. These parts would be mated to a revised stainless steel frame and modern drivetrain. I toured the warehouse in 1998, 2000 and 2001. At that time there were almost enough parts left over to build one new De Lorean for every De Lorean that was already on the road. One of the greatest myths about the De Lorean is that "you can't get parts!". Not true, there's a warehouse full of them.

For the past decade this same "new De Lorean" story has come up. Until recently, the plan had always been to hand build around 20 "new" De Loreans using original bodywork and mostly original components, mated to a new, modern V6 or V8 engine, with more advanced suspension, handling and braking and a revised interior. We were hoping to see these cars available in 2017. Then there was a delay to 2018, 2019, then Covid hit, and that was cited as the reason that they were unable to settle on a drivetrain. The project went quiet for a while and recently resurfaced with the idea of making the car electric, which is something they've done once before.

This isn't a "new De Lorean" in the sense that it is a newly engineered Tesla-like car created from scratch for the modern road. These are incredibly beautiful, mostly original De Lorean cars, hand built using some 40+ year old components mated to a modern drivetrain to create an "improved" more powerful, customized De Lorean. They will certainly be quality, hand-built cars and a joy to drive. I hope they are successful at this endeavor and wish the team nothing but success. But these headlines are misleading people, and have been for nearly 10 years.

Since 2000, DMC Houston had offered "new build De Loreans" taking the VIN plate of an original De Lorean, and assembling a complete zero-mile car using "new old stock" components from the warehouse, including the crate engine. I met with DMC Houston and discussed this in 2001. The price at the time was $27,500 and increased shortly thereafter to $32,500. I don't know how many people took them up on this at the time. After a while they stopped offering this option, and began to focus on the "new De Lorean" project. 

They had also made an offer to purchase the closed GM factory from the US government which had produced the Pontiac Solstice, and reviving that car as a "new De Lorean". The offer was not accepted however, and the factory went to Fisker.

However, the idea that "De Lorean is returning to take on Tesla & Karma" is false. It's an easy way of getting on The Today Show to create buzz for a project that has been dragging on and on for a decade.

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Here is a relevant copy/paste from Wikipedia:

In 1995, Stephen Wynne, a British car mechanic from Liverpool, created a separate company based in Humble, Texas, using the DeLorean Motor Company name. Wynne acquired the trademark on the stylized DMC logo, along with the remaining parts inventory of the original DeLorean Motor Company.[94][95]

After the passage of the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturing Act, DMC Texas announced that it planned to produce replica DeLoreans. DMC anticipated building approximately 50 vehicles per year over six years with an estimated retail price of US$100,000.[96] However, DMC Texas encountered hurdles such as reproducing parts no longer available from new old stock, and finalizing an engine supplier.[97] In January 2021, the NHTSA issued a final ruling to allow low volume vehicle manufacturing.

 

So apparently, it's this new "Low volume vehicle manufacturing" law that makes this feasible.  Hey, beyond DeLorean, maybe we'll see more small companies making some unique cars like back in the old days. 

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For example, @MaximumRD posted this same headline when it was trending two years ago:

 

15 minutes ago, RickR said:

So apparently, it's this new "Low volume vehicle manufacturing" law that makes this feasible.  Hey, beyond DeLorean, maybe we'll see more small companies making some unique cars like back in the old days. 

Checker is supposed to be building some new "low volume" Checker Marathons 🙂 This is all win-win for Christopher Lloyd.

This is part of what the delay has been, a delay in the red tape surrounding this new law.

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