DeLorean Motor Company: Reviving the "Most Popular Unknown Car in the World"
In Sunny California, a car manufacturing shop, with three simple letters labeled “DMC” hanging above its doors, is now reaping the success of accomplishing a near-impossible task. This shop had successfully transformed a failed vehicle that doomed its company, into a thriving business focused on the niche of geeky stardom.
A Jump Back in Time
In 1973, John DeLorean founded the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) after some time working at General Motors. He received financial backing from the British government, founded his manufacturing plant in Ireland and after several prototypes, started producing his dream car, the DMC-12.
The DMC-12 was designed in such a unique way that when the first vehicle was manufactured in 1981, its stainless steel body and gull wings made it the eye-catching sports car John DeLorean had envisioned.
It’s due to these unique qualities, the film franchise, ‘Back to the Future,’ had transformed the DMC-12 into a leading character. To quote Doc E. Brown, the wacky scientist of the franchise, he chose the car because “...the way I see it, if you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style.” Although the statement may have been truthful back in 1985, the filmmaking team behind the film specifically chose this vehicle because it supported a major plot point to the film.
Warning: Spoilers ahead… but it’s Back to the Future, everyone has seen it!
Due to the stainless steel body and brushed metal surface, the main characters were able to use the vehicles structure as a major electrical conductor for the lightning bolt at the film’s climax. It was because of this car’s unique design that got Marty McFly back to his original time of 1985. In this film and the two sequels that followed, this car had been the savior of most of the characters, and became immortalized as a pop icon for the 80s.
End of Spoilers
Although it made film and TV appearances throughout the 80’s, unfortunately, due to financial issues, the original DeLorean Motor Company had closed its doors in 1982, three years before Back to the Future would be released. The company had manufactured about 9,000 DMC-12s, most of which are circulating around the world today, and if the company had still been active during the release of Back to the Future, it’s easy to imagine the company would have survived.
The New DMC
Fast forward to 1986, with the growing demand of the rare DMC-12s, businessman Stephen Wynne began his latest business venture of restoring and reconstructing the DeLorean brand. By 2015, he then purchased the rights to the DMC name, the logo, trademarks, vehicle blueprints and more inventory. The company formally became DMC, DeLorean Motor Company in May of 1995.
Stephen Wynne and his son shared a passion of the original DMC-12s. Stephen’s son, Cameron, who runs the DMC in Huntington Beach, CA, had grown up around the DMC-12. Stephen had serviced the original DMCs when the original company was still manufacturing the vehicles and it was from this passion for the car that really pushed Stephen and Cameron to grow their business.
Danny Botkin, Service Manager at the Huntington Beach DMC, was originally a client of Stephen Wynne as he was working on restoring his own personal DMC-12. Once the team recognized Danny had an automotive mechanic background, they offered him the job. Danny had a love for the Back to the Future franchise and the car itself, allowing the manifestation of a powerful dream to dedicate his career to this pop icon.
With a team of passionate owners and technicians who share a common love, they focused on how to make this once-doomed brand name a successful household name. What could be done differently than John DeLorean? Unfortunately for John DeLorean, and to use this opportunity to make a time pun, he did not have time on his side.
"It's the most popular unknown car in the world. Everybody knows it when they see it, but nobody knows much about it." - Danny Botkin, Service Manager at DMC California
It’s because of Back to the Future film franchise, it’s because of the TV appearances, and it’s because of that 80’s pop icon stardom, a spark was ignited within a passionate fan base of the DMC-12. They were the kids of the 80s who admired over Marty McFly’s adventures, who obsessed over the Mr. Fusion home energy reactors, the flux capacitor, and the two thrusters that lived on the DeLorean of the films. It was the kids who had parents that owned a DMC-12 or admired its TV appearances or embraced the icon as a representation of a favorite decade. And now, the kids of the 80s are adults, invigorated with the same passion of their youth, looking to own the very same vehicle that raced across their screens with flaming tread marks.
In business, nostalgia sells, but passion sells even better. The team at DMC not only has the know-how of producing and restoring the DMC-12, but because of their attention to detail to the film franchise, the DMC in California also specialize in recreating the exact time machine car, complete with the Mr. Fusion, flux capacitor and thruster details. Techs at this particular DMC shop wear time traveler badges with pride as this small, dedicated team has carved a unique niche that is growing DMC’s success.
With ownership of the original designs and blueprints, techs being educated in how the original DMC-12s were produced, the DMC team also had the unique opportunity to roll out some modernization updates for this line of vehicles. They have updated the door handles from plastic to metal; they have produced an all-electric DMC-12, and started implementing an electric power-steering unit into some of their latest cars.
"Everyone smiles, everyone gives a thumbs up. It makes people happy just to see it."
The client base for DMC extends far and wide seeking the services of DMC to bring them their dream car. From airline pilots to techy industrialists who are just a huge fan of the DMC-12, there has been a growing demand for these cars. DMC California has had high profile clients like Ernest Cline, famous for writing the Ready Player One book that turned into a Steven Spielberg film.
However, many clients seeking the Back to the Future car aren’t just planning on owning this car to just keep hidden in a garage. Many of DMC’s clients use these detailed cars to go to party events, car shows and conventions not only for fun but most also bring awareness and fundraise for the Michael J. Fox Foundation in support of Parkinson’s Disease research.
Armed with outdoor speakers on the outside of the vehicle, a dedicated Back to the Future soundtrack provided by DMC blaring some hits of the 80s, the car always draws a crowd to it. Danny recalls how some clients shared that they would be pulled over by police just so the officers in blue could take a closer look and then send them on their way. “Everyone smiles, everyone gives a thumbs up. It makes people happy just to see it.” Danny says.
DMC hopes to roll out a new DMC model in the next year, as well as future advancements to the DMC-12. Learn more about DMC at https://www.delorean.com/.
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