Fans of “Back to the Future” won’t have to travel back in time to purchase a new DeLorean DMC-12.
DeLorean Motor Co. plans to start producing 300 replica models of the gull-wing two-door car by March 2017, according to Vice President James Espey.
“There’s a long-term business here, as there has been for the last 30 years,” he told The Detroit News Thursday during a phone interview. “It’s not just a movie prop. It’s something you can buy, own and drive.”
Epsey said the Humble, Texas-based company is currently in talks with several automakers to identify a suitable engine supplier for the replicas, which DeLorean Motor hopes to sell for $80,000 to $100,000. The cars will feature many original parts, Epsey said. DeLorean Motor purchased millions of parts after the original company filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980s.
The DMC-12 was originally produced by the DeLorean Motor Co. in 1981 and 1982. The company — founded by Detroit native and former General Motors employee John DeLorean — produced fewer than 9,000 of the cars before the filing for bankruptcy in 1982. The Texas-based company is not affiliated with the original 1980s company.
The DMC-12 became a pop culture phenomenon after the “Back to the Future” movie franchise used the car as the vehicle that Dr. Emmett Brown turns into a time machine. There was renewed interest in the DMC-12 in 2015 — the 30th anniversary of the movie, and the year Michael J. Fox’s character Marty McFly traveled in the 1985 film.
“As a result of those movies, there’s a constantly re-generating stream of new customers and people interested in the car,” said Espey, who has worked for the company for 17 years. “You certainly can’t discount the value of the movies to keep the spotlight on the car.”
The company, which offers service and parts for current DeLorean models, has wanted to reproduce the DMC-12 for years. But legislation in the United States was restrictive and the company was in a legal battle over the DeLorean name, trademarks and logos. Both issues were respectively resolved in 2015 with an out-of-court settlement and new regulations.
Legislators in the United States gave the green light for production with the “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act” (H.R. 2675) in 2015. Signed into law in December, it creates a regulatory structure allowing small companies to produce a limited number of completed replica vehicles. The replica DMC-12 models, Epsey said, will essentially have to meet the safety standards of when they were built instead of today’s.
“We’re hopeful that the law could be expanded to not just include replicas but all sorts of low-volume cars,” said Espey, adding the company’s long-term goal is to produce its own cars.
DeLorean Motor has five locations in the United States, including a Midwest location in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The company also sells used DeLoreans. Cars for sale online range between about $30,000-$60,000 based on condition.