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Motor Mouth articles 2012

A flight of fancy from DeLorean?

REMEMBER the DeLorean, the futuristic sports car with gullwing doors, built in Northern Ireland, plagued by problems and scandal and best remembered for its role as a film car?

Well if you thought the story had long ago passed into legend, never to be revived, think again because the star of ‘Back to the Future’ is making a comeback – as an electric car.

Three decades after the original DeLorean factory closed, with the loss of 2,000 jobs, the car is being given a new lease of life at its modern-day headquarters in Houston, Texas.

The man behind this most unlikely resurrection is Liverpool-born Stephen Wynn, who moved to America 30 years ago to work as a specialist mechanic for DeLorean DMC-12 models.

After rising to become the most prominent businessman dealing in the car, he bought the rights to the DeLorean brand in 1995. Since then, Mr Wynn’s company has been providing maintenance and repair work for the 7,500 remaining DMC-12s.

Now his company has taken the DeLorean on a real-life journey into the 21st century by developing an electric-powered version, which is due to hit the market early next year. First production run will be 300 vehicles and the cost will be around £57,000.

The ‘flux capacitor’ employed in the 1985 movie, which turned the DeLorean into a time-travelling flying machine, will not be among the gizmos, more’s the pity, while the cassette player has been replaced with an iPhone dock.

The manufacturers say the new car’s batteries take 15 hours to charge and store enough energy for a 100-mile trip. They will power the new DeLorean from zero to 60mph in an impressive five seconds and produce a top speed of 120mph.

The original DeLorean factory in Northern Ireland closed just a year after it opened, because of a steep decline in sales. The business was also plagued by accusations that founder John DeLorean was embezzling company funds.

The final nail in the coffin came when he was caught in an FBI sting, accused of plotting to smuggle cocaine into America in return for cash to keep the business afloat. He was later acquitted.

Taking into account the projected steep purchase price, the limited driving range and the brand’s dubious history, it remains to be seen whether the car’s glamorous image will be enough to make the new DeLorean a hit with customers. Time will tell . . .

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