HOUSTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The DeLorean sports car, which unexpectedly became one of the biggest movie stars of the 1980s, will soon return to production, the company's chief executive said Wednesday.
The car's resurrection was facilitated by the "low volume manufacturing bill" just passed in Congress for the company, now based in Humble, Texas. The DeLorean Motor Company aims to begin selling the updated DMC-12 for the 2017 model year, reportedly at a price near $100,000.
The original sports car, designed by auto engineer and former General Motors executive John DeLorean, was manufactured between 1981 and 1982. The total number built was less than 10,000 but the DMC-12 became iconic for its appearance -- gull-wing doors, an innovative (for the time) fiberglass chassis, and stainless steel paneling. It was available in one color -- silver.
"It's fantastic! It is a game changer for us. We've been wanting this to happen," DeLorean CEO Stephen Wynne told KPRC-TV. "That was a green light to go back into production. That was prohibited. It was against the law to do it."
"It's huge for us. It means we're back as a car company again," he added.
Wynne is a mechanic who specializes in DeLoreans, and since buying the rights to the defunct company in 1987, has sold parts and refurbished models from his east Texas shop.
The original car was assembled in Northern Ireland but the new models will be the manufactured in the United States for the first time. Also, Wynne said, the new version will retain the DMC-12's classic look.
"There's no reason to change the appearance of the car," he told KPRC-TV. "As we go into the program, we'll decide what areas need to be freshened up."
The DeLorean DMC-12 -- which came standard with a rear-mounted 174 cubic-inch V-6 engine, an independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering -- didn't exactly set the auto market on fire upon its release. With an MSRP of about $30,000 (equal to $78,000 in 2015) and no real track record to speak of, the sports cars performed only moderately well during its two-year run.
The car inadvertently became a semi-status symbol, due to its rarity and lofty price tag -- even though it was originally intended as a moderately-priced sports car. In fact, the car received its designation, the DMC-12, because the company targeted an MSRP of $12,000 ($31,000 in 2015).
Three years after the company went bankrupt and ceased production of the DMC-12, the sports car shot to international superstardom as the time machine in Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. The film, which earned nearly $400 million at the box office, made the DeLorean a household brand almost instantly.
Sequels in 1989 and 1990 further solidified the vehicle's appeal and attempts to revive the DMC-12 followed in the 1990s and 2000s. The company even hinted at an electric model for 2013, but it was never produced.
Wynne said the company plans to produce about 300 cars -- one a week beginning in early 2017. His company already sells refurbished DMC-12s, which cost between $45,000 and $55,000.