When Motor Biscuit last visited the potential return of the DeLorean “DMC 12” gullwing coupe, it was ready to start manufacturing a low-volume car with modern upgrades. That was in 2017. Then crickets. We thought, “Such is the end of most automotive endeavors.” We were wrong. The DeLorean is actually going back into production again. Here’s what happened.
New versions of the 1981-1983 DeLorean coupes were to begin production when something completely unexpected happened. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was to begin implementing the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act in 2016. Then the change in administrations stopped the implementation dead in its tracks.
The new DeLorean DMC 12 never got into production because there was no NHTSA administrator
That’s because the NHTSA never had a permanent administrator since Obama was in office. An acting administrator can’t sign off on regulations, so none have been implemented. Then, with the agency faced with things like autonomous vehicles, automotive recalls, and more, things like low volume manufacturers are moved to the bottom of the pile.
There still is no head of the agency. No explanation has been forthcoming. But the Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association sued the NHTSA to release the regulations that had been collecting dust since 2016. With that, it finally did release the document, and now the Delorean is back from the future.
The new DMC 12 coupes will use both new-old-stock and all-new components
Vice President of the DeLorean Motor Company James Espy confirmed to Hagerty Insurance that the company is ready to produce the new and upgraded gullwing. These new versions will use both new-old-stock parts as well as brand-new components. One of the changes we liked hearing about is the replacement of the original’s 130 hp Renault stomach pump V6 engine with something over 350 hp.
The engine sourced for the DeLorean will be out of production soon, so another is being considered. Don’t forget, these plans were coming together back in 2015, so that was over five years ago. Things change. The new power plant must be certified for the EPA and CARB.
Things like wheel and brake upgrades, ABS and traction control, power steering and cruise control (which the original didn’t have), heated/cooled seats, Bluetooth, navigation, and smartphone integration will all be part of the new DeLorean.
DeLorean expects that a lot of the new gull wings will be daily drivers
The company expects that most of the new DeLoreans will be daily drivers. It likes the fact that the movie Back To The Future promotes the car every day. “They’ll go on the internet and look up DeLorean and see that it is a real car they can buy and not a movie prop,” Espy told Hagerty.
With electrification one every manufacturer’s minds Espy says if the right tech partner came along it would consider an electric DeLorean.
The company is located in Humble, Texas, but started in Liverpool, England. There Stephen Wynn began servicing and restoring DeLoreans starting in 1995. He purchased large collections of parts from defunct dealers and even the manufacturer. Eventually, he was able to acquire the DeLorean trademarks. It has since opened up service and upgrade locations in California, Florida, and Illinois. “It’s crazy how many DeLoreans are used as daily drivers in California,” Espy says.
The new company expects to build one-to-two DeLoreans a week
Around 9,000 DeLoreans were produced in all. Most of those landed in the US. Espy believes around 6,500 are still on the roads today. Espy predicts the new DeLorean Motors will produce between one and two coupes per week. The maximum allowed under the Low Volume laws is 325 cars a year.
DeLorean has 96.7% of the parts needed to replicate a DeLorean coupe. The other 3+% are being developed now. Plus, with the upgrades planned a lot of those parts won’t be needed for the new cars. “You’ll have a lot more performance, plus reliability, and it will pass emissions everywhere,” says Espy.
The law still needs to pass, and that will take a year with review periods, Office of Management and Budget reviews, and what happens in the 2020 elections. Since no administrator has surfaced in this administration, will one be hired immediately should a new president be elected? How long would that take?
So, Delorean is not taking deposits yet because it has no control over when the regulations the company will work under will be signed into law. SEMA for its part is not pulling back but instead keeps pressure on the agency.
We’ll report on further developments as they happen.