Conceived by John Z. DeLorean, engineered in part by Lotus, and styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the DeLorean DMC-12 debuted in 1981. The car quickly piqued the interest of governments hither and yon, who were eager to attract the new car manufacturer and its jobs. The British government ultimately lured the DeLorean Motor Company to Northern Ireland, and a manufacturing facility was established in suburban Belfast.
The public eagerly awaited the vehicle’s 1981 launch, as the car had a rear-mounted engine set-up, gullwing doors, an angular form, and a novel stainless steel finish to accompany its who’s-who pedigree. The car came fully loaded, with the only choice for the buyer being the color of the leather seats (gray or black) and the type of transmission (automatic of a 5-speed manual).
The execution of the idea missed the mark, however. Instead of being sporty, the DMC-12 was equipped with a sluggish Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6 that produced 130 hp. The car’s build quality was also reputedly poor upon launch, and the sticker price was a substantial $26,000. All of these factors and more conspired to suppress sales.
Production slowly continued into 1982 until the company went bankrupt (some cars were later assembled in 1983 and title accordingly). John DeLorean desperately tried to secure funding to rescue production, and became involved in a large-scale FBI cocaine bust. The arraignment effectively destroyed any hope of reviving the company and the DMC-12.