Back to the Future of the DeLorean’s Texas Past

As it turns out, the company behind that time-traveling car has roots right here in Texas.

By Jimmy MaasOctober 21, 2015 3:29 pm, ,

This story originally appeared on KUT News

Of course, you’ll remember McFly travels to 2015 in a souped-up DeLorean…

The DeLorean DMC-12 is the only car ever manufactured by the DeLorean Motor Company, a company whose creative and intellectual remnants now legally reside near Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (well, technically Humble).

So how did the rights to one of the most iconic sports car/time machines in film history end up just down Highway 290? In order to answer that we have to go, well, back in time.

John DeLorean was a highly successful designer at General Motors. Among his triumphs were the Pontiac GTO muscle car and the Firebird. Forty-two years ago, he broke with GM to start his own company, the DeLorean Motor Company.

Due to manufacturing hiccups and other delays, its first car didn’t hit the market until eight years later.

The DMC-12 hit showrooms in the midst of a sluggish economy and with mixed performance reviews. Desperate for money to save the company, DeLorean was busted attempting to traffic cocaine. By the end of 1982, the company was being liquidated.

“The company didn’t have enough capital and just kind of collapsed. So you have these incredible looking cars that didn’t really work that well. But they look great and now you have some collectors who obviously love them,” says Joe White, a transportation editor for Reuters, and a longtime observer of the auto industry in Detroit.

Years after the last DeLorean rolled off the assembly line, it rolled into cinematic history. Back to the Future and its two sequels created something John DeLorean had difficulty doing – they created interest in the DMC-12.

“He got into trouble with the law, he got out of trouble with the law, but he was not able to build a sustainable company,” White says. “Obviously, theBack to the Future franchise has done more with the DeLorean than DeLorean itself ever did.”

Enter Stephen Wynne. He took a shine to the stainless steel cars when he began working on them in the early ‘80s. At the time he owned a small mechanic shop in Los Angeles specializing in English and French cars, as well as DeLoreans. With no more dealers to service the cars, Wynne got bigger ideas.

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