DeLorean, reborn and remade, builds a history in order to forge a way into the future
The DeLorean team will tell you that their impending Alpha5 sports vehicle is the culmination of 40 years of continuous innovation. But, wait a minute, didn’t DeLorean declare bankruptcy in the mid-1980s? Of course it happened, but the new DeLorean firm, DeLorean Motors Reimagined, has invented an alternate chronology in which it did not. DeLorean envisaged a comprehensive history of what could have been, featuring three essential DeLorean concept automobiles, alongside the Alpha5.
We understand that this seems like a corporate navel-gazing activity, but when Troy Beetz, DeLorean’s chief marketing officer, described it to us, the rationale made sense. At the recent Monterey Car Week, the business showcased their other chronology, replete with scale models and a pair of futuristic designs.
“We understood from the start that we couldn’t just replicate the DMC-12,” Beetz remarked of the first DeLorean production vehicle. “We could legitimise this brand by implying that the DMC-12 was a derivation of the DeLorean brand. And what exactly is a DeLorean? What type of business was it? We already knew what we were intending to construct, but there was no DNA to bridge the gap from the DMC-12 to the Alpha5. We had to reimagine the brand as though it had been around for 40 years.” If only there was a genuine DeLorean time machine.
In the absence of a flux capacitor, DeLorean created a backstory—a fictitious narrative of what may have transpired in the 40 years since the DMC-12. The business conducted significant research, attending every auto show, examining every concept car, and studying pop culture trends from the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. “The detail that went into constructing the narrative was incredible,” Beetz stated.
DeLorean collaborated with ItalDesign to produce concept automobiles for the aforementioned decades, commencing with the DeLorean DMC-24 concept (more on that later). The original DMC-12 was designed by ItalDesign, as you may recall.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What would DeLorean have done in those time periods to grow the brand in terms of both design and technology?'” Beetz said. “We weren’t just looking at design language, but also engineering and materials science.”
Here’s how DeLorean’s imagined history was moulded by concept automobiles.
DMC-24 Concept, 1980s
DeLorean and ItalDesign had a good starting point: DeLorean was working on a four-seat follow-up known internally as the DMC-24 when the original firm went bankrupt. ItalDesign’s idea followed in the footsteps of Giugiaro’s 1980 Lancia Medusa concept, but the DeLorean connection was clear: The DMC-24 had four gullwing doors and a hatchback form similar to the DeLorean coupe, but with significantly more rounded sides. When the faltering DeLorean couldn’t pay the price, the mock-up was reworked to become the Lamborghini Marco Polo concept. The DMC-24 would serve as the starting point for DeLorean’s new “historical” designs four decades later.
DeLorean Alpha2 Roadster Concept, 1996
This is when the background begins to fill in the gaps in DeLorean’s past. The late 1980s and early 1990s were critical years for the automobile industry, with automakers keen to leave the Malaise Era behind. Computer advances ushered in a new era of design in which the straight-edge lines of the 1970s and 1980s gave way to intricate, sinewy curves. DeLorean envisioned a new coupe that was a drastic departure from the DMC-12 while also retaining recognisable design features.
The Alpha2 Roadster idea retains the DMC-12’s signature metal-sheen finish as well as the gullwing doors. DeLorean conceived a steel-composite body, its shape softened for aerodynamics but with broad, flat surfaces that recalled the original car’s angular simplicity, just as the DMC-12 was constructed of rust-resistant stainless steel. The Alpha2’s design reminds us of a Corvette, which makes sense given that the company’s namesake was the driving force behind the Pontiac XP-833 Banshee, a stillborn project that inspired the aesthetic seen on the C3 Corvette.
2000s: Alpha3 Luxury Sedan EV 2006
DeLorean and ItalDesign focused their next design on what forward-thinking automakers were pondering in the new century, most notably an electric (or at least electrified) future. They thought DeLorean would have wanted to develop an electric concept, and much as Porsche planned the four-door Panamera, DeLorean would have wanted to display something more practical than the two-door, targa-topped Alpha2 roadster.
The Alpha3 is primarily inspired by the DMC-24, but the lack of an engine allows DeLorean to transform the DMC-24’s lumpy long-hatchback body into something absolutely beautiful. DeLorean intended to continue experimenting with materials, in this case a lightweight aluminium composite for the skin, which wears a slight tint of blue rather than the usual stainless-steel sheen, as shown in early DMC-24 sketches. Once again, the doors are hinged at the top, revealing an interior made with ecologically friendly materials, according to DeLorean.
2013 Alpha4 SUV: 2010s
Porsche did it, Lamborghini did it, and even Aston Martin (at some point) did it—and DeLorean would have hopped on the premium performance SUV bandwagon as well. Automakers knew the future was electric when they were in their early teens, but how that electricity would be delivered was still up for discussion. This is an electric idea, however it is powered by a hydrogen-fed fuel cell. The design was unusual—not all of DeLorean’s judgments in its reconstructed past would have been correct, according to Beetz—but the Alpha3 had the sporty, angular style that’s become synonymous with high-end SUVs.
2020s: DeLorean Alpha5 2024
The actual and fictional histories collide here. If all goes according to plan, the Alpha5 concept will be transformed into a genuine electric sports car that will be available for purchase soon.
“Those 40 years give you the Alpha5” remarked Beetz. When compared to the original DeLorean, the Alpha5 shares several characteristics, the gullwing doors being one among them. However, when viewed in the perspective of the history and concepts invented by DeLorean to fill in those missing decades, the Alpha5 makes much more sense. DeLorean, like many other automakers, appears to be attempting to return to its roots.