The Showdown Over Who Gets to Build the Next DeLorean

The news spread, first with an item on Fox News and then in outlets all over the world. Jason was so high on enthusiasm for the new company, and pride in his wife’s ambition, that he dashed off a public promise on the DNG Motors Instagram account. “UNVEILED SEPTEMBER 13, 2023,” read an image of white text on a black background, with Jason’s caption: “DeLorean is back in the Motor City.” He’d just committed them to building a car for the Detroit Auto Show. When Kat saw the post, she flipped out.

Soon afterward, the DeLorean Motor Company in Texas sent Kat a cease-and-desist, demanding she stop using the DeLorean name for her planned car. She and Jason had their lawyer send a reply asserting their rights and expressing their willingness to litigate, and kept going.

DeLorean Motor Company sits in a squat building off a tangle of highways in suburban Houston—you drive past some shabby lots and fields, and then the 1980s spring up around a curve in the road, where a retro-looking DMC logo looms over a row of DMC-12s in the parking lot. You might even spot a JIGAWAT license plate there. Inside the garage/warehouse is an array of disembodied gull-wing doors that evoke a flock of injured birds. Old covers of Deloreans magazines stare out from frames in the showroom.

This is the realm of Stephen Wynne, a Liverpool-born mechanic who has devoted his life to DeLorean the car—to the point of driving his son Cameron to kindergarten in DMC-12s that appeared in Back to the Future. Wynne is less impressed with DeLorean the man, however. “I have more respect for the team that he put together,” he says. “All you hear about is John DeLorean and not the team, and that, to me, is not right.” John was, Wynne said, ahead of his time as an engineer. But: “He made the company, and he also, you know, killed the company in the end.”

It was Wynne who picked up the pieces, effectively securing a monopoly on the small, strange market for DeLorean parts. This was not a decision about preserving someone else’s legacy; it was about securing his own future. “It felt to me like, to control my destiny, going forward, it was to have control of the parts,” he told me in the shop as tools clanked against cars behind us. “If someone was going to get it, I wanted it to be me.” He founded the new DeLorean Motor Company in 1995.

Wynne considers the original buyers of the 1980s DeLorean to have been “entrepreneurial, outside-of-the-box-thinking type people,” with something a “little bit different about them”—less interested in owning a really fast sports car than a piece of cultural history. (The original DeLorean did 0 to 60 in about 10.5 seconds, something my used Hyundai can easily beat.) “We believe that there’s much more wealth in that market these days,” Wynne says.

Over the years, Wynne and team made various plans to serve this market of “modern nerds” with new cars built mostly from original parts. But federal regulators were slow to relax the rules that said these historic replicas had to meet current safety standards, so the revival of the DMC-12—with its lack of airbags, a third brake light, and antilock brakes, for instance—never happened. Still, the company did a thriving business in parts sales and car service. It also made a good buck from the DeLorean brand, which it alternately licensed for apparel, video games, and the like, or zealously protected via cease-and-desists and lawsuits.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top