Made famous by its use as a time machine in the movie Back to the Future, the DeLorean is a unique car that is often underappreciated. It was even named one of the fifty ugliest cars of the past fifty years by Business Week magazine.
On the road, it looks pretty blank: unpainted stainless steel panels, straight lines, and plastic louvers jutting from the back window. The louvers, in addition to making the car easily recognizable from behind, helped pull hot air from the engine (located in the rear of the car) and reduced glare on the window. Owners who wanted a DeLorean with a more unique look sometimes painted the steel panels themselves, but most DeLoreans have kept that blank slate look of unpainted stainless steel.
When you open the car door though, the car takes on a much more impressive look and stature. The gullwing doors are hinged at the roof and float upward. It looks effortless and futuristic and was a draw for some buyers in the market for a sports car or something unique.
The prototype appeared in 1976 made from Elastic Reservoir Molding (ERM) technology and with a Comotor engine. The vehicle had to be almost entirely redesigned before production as manufacture of the chosen engine type was halted, the ERM material was found inappropriate for cars, and a host of other issues arose.
After all that work, the DeLorean was produced only from 1981-1982.
The darker back-story of this car isn’t talked about nearly as much as the vehicle’s fifteen minutes of fame as a time machine. The DeLorean DMC was produced for a remarkably short period and its demise wasn’t due to its popularity or sales rate. No, the DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in ’82 when John DeLorean was falsely arrested for drug trafficking. By the time DeLorean’s name was cleared, the company had already gone belly up.
Today, about 6,500 are still in existence. That number may not sound high, but it is a very high number considering only about 9,000 were ever produced.