The DeLorean may be back in production as early as next year – flux capacitor sold separately.
The DeLorean Motor Company announced this week that it was prepared to begin assembling modern versions of the car — silver-winged doors and all — by the first quarter of 2017.
A federal law passed in December has opened the door to the production of new DeLorean models, said company vice-president James Espey in a phone interview with the Star on Friday.
The law, Espey explained, gives small car manufacturers in the U.S. “a waiver from the safety requirements that are currently required of manufacturers, but it does not exempt us from the requirement for an emission-certified engine.”
Previously, small car manufacturers were held to the same vehicle standards as large automakers like General Motors or Ford, often making it financially impossible to produce vehicles, Espey said.
The “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act” limits these small manufacturers, however, to produce 325 cars per year.
“We have plans for a total run of about 300-325 cars over probably about six years,” Espey said. “What really enables us to do this is the fact that we have so much original inventory of DeLorean parts.”
It would be the first time the cars — which were immortalized as the time machine in the 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd — have been manufactured since the early 1980s.
The new models will be made out of 85 to 90 per cent original DeLorean parts, but they will have a modern, high-performance engine, larger tires and brakes, power steering and cruise control.
The interior will also be updated with modern features like Blue Tooth, a navigation system and iPhone or iPod jacks. Each car will be sold for about $80,000-100,000 (U.S.), Espey said.
“The exterior appearance will be virtually identical” to the 1981 DeLorean model, Espey said. “That’s what people know, that’s what people like. That’s what people recognize.”
The DeLorean Motor Company first manufactured the car for the U.S. market in 1981 and 1982 in Northern Ireland. The car retailed for $25,000 (U.S.) at the time, according to The DeLorean Museum, the equivalent of $62,300 in 2007.
The company went under when founder John DeLorean was arrested in 1982 for drug trafficking, a charge he was later acquitted of.
A trove of left-over car parts changed hands a few times before Texas-based DeLorean Motor Company, unaffiliated to the original company in Ireland, acquired most of them in 1997.
About 9,200 DeLoreans were made before the company closed its doors, the museum estimates. Espey said between 6,500 to 7,000 DeLoreans are still on the road today. While most are in the U.S., he said 300 to 400 cars are in Canada, with hundreds m in the U.K., Japan and Australia combined.
A 1981 DeLorean is for sale in Toronto, according to the Official DeLorean Owners Canada website, and others have been sold in Thunder Bay, Windsor, Guelph and Fergus, Ont.
Espey said it’s currently easy to import original DeLoreans and other older cars into Canada, but he said he was unsure whether Canada would consider the new models in that same category.
“I know Canada has very liberal policies about importing cars from other countries, but it’s particularly older cars. It’s unclear to us how they will view this . . . Being our next door neighbours, (Canada) is a market that we’d certainly like to get into,” he said.
While production of the new models is still at least one year away, Espey said the company has received hundreds of e-mails from people expressing interest in getting their names on a waiting list.
“There’s a lot of people . . . who don’t know a Camaro from a Chevelle from a Firebird, but they know the Back to the Future car. I’ll go to car shows and there’ll be kids coming up – six, seven years old – ‘Look mommy, it’s the Back to the Future car,’” he said.
“It’s something that you can buy. And that’s something that you can’t say for things like a Batmobile, or the Mach Five, or the Dukes of Hazard car.”