DeLorean theory (1990)

Theory of academic work described by English political scientist Rodney Barker (1942- ).

Academic and artistic activities are measured according to the amount of funding they attract, rather than by the quality or quantity of their output.

Named after the unsuccessful motor car manufacturer JOHN DeLOREAN (1925- ), who attracted large amounts of money for his plant in Northern Ireland but produced very few cars.

History

A DeLorean with the gull-wing doors closed

A DeLorean from the front with the gull-wing doors open

When details surrounding the DeLorean first started to be revealed in the mid-1970s, there were numerous plans and rumors that the DeLorean would have myriad advanced features, such as elastic reservoir moulding (ERM), a unit construction plastic chassis, a mid-engine layout, airbags, 10 mph bumpers and Pirelli P7 tires; none of them would materialize in the production vehicle.[13]

Originally, the car was intended to have a centrally-mounted Wankel rotary engine. The engine selection was reconsidered when Comotor production ended and the favored engine became the Ford Cologne V6 engine.[14]

The first prototype appeared in October 1976. The prototype was completed by American automotive chief engineer William T. Collins, formerly chief engineer at Pontiac and the prototype was known as the DSV-1, or DeLorean Safety Vehicle.[15] As development continued, the model was referred to as the DSV-12[16] and later the DMC-12 since DMC was targeting a list price of $12,000 upon release.[17]

The Ford V6 engine would soon be abandoned in favor of the complete drivetrain from a Citroën CX 2000 as it was deemed as a more reliable engine choice.[18] However, the 1,985 cc (121 cu in) engine from Citroën was deemed too underpowered for the DeLorean. When Citroën learned of DMC plans to turbocharge the engine, Citroën suggested to DMC to find another engine.[19] Eventually the fuel-injected V6 PRV engine (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) was selected. As a result, the engine location had to be moved from the mid-engined location in Prototype 1 to a rear-engined location in Prototype 2; a configuration which would be retained in the production vehicle.[20]

The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as elastic reservoir moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable.[21]

The interior on Prototype 1 was significantly different than the production vehicle. Prototype 1 had a prominent full-width knee bar as it was intended to be a safety car. A medium brown leather covered the seats but were much flatter and didn’t have the comfort and support of the production seats. A black center steering wheel with a fat center was intended to hold an air bag and the driver had a full set of Stewart-Warner gauges. A central warning system would check various fluid levels and even warn of low brake pad thickness though even at this time it was suspected this feature wouldn’t show up on production cars.[22]

These and other changes to the original concept led to considerable schedule pressures. The entire car was deemed to require almost complete re-engineering, which was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus, like the steel backbone chassis.[23]

After several delays and cost overruns, production finally began in late 1980. Around this time DMC officially dropped the name DMC-12 on its now $25,000 car in favor of the model name DeLorean. The DeLorean sports car, as it was described in advertisements[24] , began production in December 1980 with the first production car rolling off the assembly line on January 21, 1981.[a][26]

The DeLorean Motor Company was placed into receivership in February 1982 and filed bankruptcy in October 1982.[27] Consolidated International purchased the unsold DeLoreans and partially completed DeLoreans still on the assembly line and assembled approximately 100 DeLoreans[28] to finish the remaining production on December 24, 1982.[1]

Sales and production

Sales

Prior to the release of the DeLorean, there was a waiting list of anxious buyers, many of whom paid over MSRP, however that exuberance subsided very quickly and production output soon far exceeded sales volume. October 1981 was the highest month of sales for DMC with 720 vehicles sold but by December, the US was falling into recession and interest rates were rising which further negatively impacted sales. Despite this, instead of reducing production, John DeLorean doubled production output, further adding to the backlog of unsold cars. By the end of 1981, DMC had produced 7,500 cars but had only sold 3,000. By this point, DMC was in a financial hardship having only sold 350 units in January 1982[29] and in February 1982, DMC was placed into receivership.[30]

In February 1982, unsold 1981 model year cars were “priced for immediate clearance” in hopes to make room for the more expensive 1982 model year cars. In March, telegrams were sent to all 343 dealerships requesting each buy six cars to help save the company; none of the dealers responded with a sales order. By this point, dealers were sitting on unsold inventory as were the quality assurance centers and hundreds more sitting on the docks in Long Beach, California. By the end of May 1982, production at the factory was shut down. Another attempt in July 1982 was made to revive sales by offering discounts to dealerships and offering a 5-year/50,000-mile (80,000 km) warranty with the first year or 12,000-mile (19,000 km) portion secured by a major insurance carrier but this was not successful.[31]

Bruce McWilliams, VP of Marketing for DMC and later acting President for DMC America, after resigning his position said, “The car could never be sold in the numbers John DeLorean predicted”.[32]

Production

Production information was lost or scattered upon the shutdown of DMC and production figures for the DeLorean have never been verified based on official factory records. Despite some unexplained VIN gaps, based upon VIN information, owners have been able to piece together the approximate quantity of DeLoreans produced.

In February 1982, DMC was placed into receivership and the factory continued to operate at a reduced production rate until the end of May. When Consolidated International acquired the unsold and partially assembled cars in November 1982, it brought back workers to complete the cars remaining on the assembly line. It was decided to make the remaining completed 1982 model year cars into 1983 models. The remaining cars VINs were re-VINed into 1983 cars by taking the original VIN number and adding 5000 to it and changing the “CD” in the middle of the VIN to “DD” thus making a 1983 model. For the 1981 model year, there were 6,700 DeLoreans produced (VIN 500-7199). For the 1982 model year, there were 1,999 DeLoreans produced (VIN 10001-11999). For the 1983 model year, there were 276 DeLoreans (VIN 17000-17170 and 20001-20105) bringing the total estimated production to 8,975 cars.[2]

Construction

The DeLorean features a number of unusual construction details, including gull-wing doors, unpainted stainless-steel body panels, and a rear-mounted engine.

Body

The gull-wing doors on the DeLorean were a distinctive feature.

The body design of the DeLorean was a product of Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign and is paneled in brushed SS304 austenitic stainless steel.[33] Except for three cars plated in 24-karat gold, all DeLoreans left the factory uncovered by paint or clearcoat. Painted DeLoreans do exist, although these were all painted after the cars were purchased from the factory.[34] In order to train the workforce, a small number of pre-production DeLoreans were produced with fiberglass bodies and are referred to as “black cars” or mules.[35]

Small scratches in the stainless-steel body panels can be removed with a non-metallic scouring pad (since metal pads can leave iron particles embedded in the stainless steel, which can give the appearance of the stainless “rusting”), or even sandpaper.[36] The stainless-steel panels are fixed to a fiberglass underbody. The underbody is affixed to a steel double-Y frame chassis, inspired by the Lotus Esprit platform.[23]

Another distinctive feature of the DeLorean is its gull-wing doors. The DeLorean features heavy doors supported by cryogenically preset torsion bars and nitrogen-charged struts.[37][38] The doors featured small cutout windows, because full-sized windows would not be fully retractable within the short door panels. Although early production cars had fitment problems due to faulty striker plates and issues with weather seals, these were tolerable because gull-wing doors allowed occupants to enter and exit the car in tight parking places as well as attracting attention from people nearby.[39]

Engine and drivetrain

DeLorean PRV engine in VIN 1522

The engine is a Peugeot-Renault-Volvo (PRV) 2.85 L (174 cu in) SOHC V6, rated at 130 hp (132 PS; 97 kW) at 5500 rpm and torque of 153 lb⋅ft (207 N⋅m) at 2750 rpm.[40] These PRVs were a development of the 2.7-litre V6 in the Renault 30 that was designed and built under special contract with the DeLorean Motor Company.

Suspension

The DeLorean has a four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs, and telescopic shock absorbers. The front suspension uses double wishbones, while the rear is a multi-link setup.[40]

When the DeLorean first arrived in the US, the car had a higher-than-expected wheel gap in the front suspension. Despite having significantly less weight in the front, the front and rear springs had the same spring rate and used lower quality steel which resulted in the nose-high look.[41] Some people have cited a last minute change in US bumper height requirements led DMC to raise the vehicle just prior to delivery, however this is not true. Design drawings show that the design met NHTSA minimum bumper and headlight heights of the time.[42][43]

Steering is rack and pinion, with an overall steering ratio of 14.9:1, giving 2.65 turns lock-to-lock and a 35-foot (11 m) turning circle. DeLoreans are equipped with cast alloy wheels, measuring 14 inches (360 mm) in diameter by 6 inches (150 mm) wide on the front and 15 inches (380 mm) in diameter by 8 inches (200 mm) wide on the rear. These were fitted with 195/60-14 (front) and 235/60-15 (rear) Goodyear NCT steel-belted radial tires. The DeLorean is a rear-engine vehicle with a 35%–65% front–rear weight distribution.[12]

The DeLorean features power-assisted disc brakes on all wheels, with 10-inch (250 mm) rotors front and 10.5-inch (270 mm) rear.[12]

Reception

The automotive press was generally complimentary. Motor Trend,[44] Car and Driver[45] and Road & Track[46] made generally positive remarks about the car, particularly its commendable fuel economy, and argued that the DeLorean is more of a GT car rather than a sports car or race car, given a disappointing performance in comparative tests.

Later reviews have been harsher. In 2017, Time Magazine included the DeLorean in its list of the 50 worst cars of all time.[47] In his book Naff Motors: 101 Automotive Lemons, Tony Davis described the build quality as “woeful”.[48] Top Gear writer Richard Porter included it in his book Crap Cars, calling it “dismal”.[49]

Performance

DMC’s comparison literature noted that the DeLorean could achieve 0–60 miles per hour (0–97 km/h) in 8.8 seconds, when equipped with a manual transmission.[50] When equipped with an automatic transmission, the DeLorean would accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 km/h) in 10.5 seconds as tested by Road & Track magazine. The car’s top speed is 109 miles per hour (175 km/h) as tested by Road & Track magazine.[51] Road and Track called the car, “not quick for a sports/GT car in this price category.”

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