On this day in auto history - January 21st

Thu 21st Jan 2021

It was on this day in 1981 that the first of the long-awaited DeLorean sports cars rolled off the production line at the company’s newly-built facility in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

Dubbed the DeLorean DMC-12, the much-touted 150-bhp two-seater vehicles - noted for their unique gull-wing doors - had been a long time in the making after colourful founder John DeLorean had been enticed to Northern Ireland by a lucrative offer from the province’s Industrial Development Board.

However, it soon became evident that DeLorean had overestimated the demand for the vehicles and, with the whole project beset by production delays and cost overruns, the company was quickly left in a precarious financial position.

After a restructuring plan failed to materialise and efforts to lobby the British government for aid were turned down, DeLorean Motor Company quickly went bankrupt, taking with it 2,500 jobs and £100 million in investments. Around the same time, John DeLorean himself was charged (but eventually acquitted) for drug-trafficking.

Despite everything, DeLorean (who died in 2005) did receive a level of immortality when his DMC-12 - known simply as the 'DeLorean' - was famously featured in the iconic Back To The Future movies of the 1980’s. In all, around 9,000 of the vehicles were produced and they can still change hands for over £40,000 on the second-hand market.