Maverick car manufacturer John DeLorean died in 2005. The DeLorean Motor Company lives.
Though he would go on to face public ridicule and legal issues, DeLorean was one of the original industry disruptors—an innovator who went up against giant corporations in an effort to present something new. In DeLorean's case, it was the car that bore his name. With gull-wing doors and a stainless-steel chassis, the introduction of the DeLorean DMC-12 in 1982 was supposed to be a seismic shift in the automobile business.
Instead, production issues forced his company into bankruptcy. The car would have likely been a footnote of the 20th century if not for 1985's Back to the Future, which embedded it in popular culture. Suddenly, the DeLorean was no longer a running joke. It was as beloved and as identifiable as the Batmobile. For the past 30-odd years, collectors have traded parts and kept a small fleet of cars in circulation.
That aftermarket may soon become something more contemporary. In a recent Popular Mechanics profile, Texas-based entrepreneur Stephen Wynne claims to have set his sights on ramping up production of the vehicle. Instead of buying a used model, DeLorean enthusiasts will be able to purchase one fresh off the assembly line.
Wynne originally came to the U.S. from Liverpool in the 1980s and worked as a car mechanic. Being familiar with foreign car manufacturing gave him a leg up on DeLorean repairs, as the car parts were frequently sourced by English and French suppliers. In 1997, he decided to acquire DeLorean's entire inventory of parts, schematics, and other proprietary information.
The parts were sold to car owners. Later, Wynne began pursuing the idea of building new DeLoreans. He had enough material for 350 to 400 cars and a plan to swap out the limited number of original 130 horsepower engines (70) with a modern 300 to 400 horsepower engine. The idea was fueled in part by a Congressional act called FAST (an acronym for "Fixing America's Surface Transportation"). Passed in 2015, it allows for small runs of replicas to be produced and sold without being subject to current car safety standards.
It was an ideal situation for Wynne, with one exception. The FAST Act requires input from the Department of Transportation on specific regulatory details, and the DOT has yet to issue it.
As soon as he's legally able, Wynne plans on producing 22 cars the first year and then ramp up production. The vehicles will likely carry a price tag of around $100,000. Is it a viable business plan? Wynne thinks so. The waiting list of people expressing intent to buy a new DeLorean is in excess of 5000.
[h/t Popular Mechanics]