DMC DeLorean

Made iconic through its appearance in Back to the Future, the DMC-12 DeLorean’s design was realised in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

The DeLorean
The DMC-12’s originality of design – as well as the innovations that played a part in its concept and production – has made it one of the most iconic sportscars.
A recognisable and distinctive car, the DMC12 has a legion of fans and devotees across the world. The car contributes to the rich history of Northern Ireland’s automobile industry, thanks to the passion of the enterprising workers at the Dunmurry factory.

John DeLorean was a leading light in the American automobile industry when he set up his own car manufacturing company DMC and his efforts to produce a safety conscious, sustainable vehicle have become infamous. 

In 1978, DeLorean signed a deal to establish a custom-built 550,000ft2 factory by the Twinbrook industrial estate at Dunmurry, six miles to the southwest of Belfast. Several hundred jobs were created as the company was projected to fulfil orders for 30,000 DeLorean cars a year. This was an enormous boost to that region where Belfast’s textile industry had declined by two-thirds in 25 years and unemployment was rife.

DeLorean compromised on many aspects of the build in order to meet deadlines he had made to guarantee the necessary loans. As a result, the DMC 12 that emerged lacked many of the environmentally friendly features that made it the radical car it was billed as. Issues with some of its parts including the iconic gull wing doors also damaged its reputation.

By the end of 1981, the Dunmurry factory had produced 7,500 cars but the DeLorean Motor Company had only managed to sell 3,000. In February 1982, the DMC was placed into receivership and by the end of May 1982, production at the factory was shut down. 

In spite of the controversy surrounding the DMC 12, its reputation was cemented in pop culture after its appearance in all three Back to the Future films. Ironically the first of these was released only three years after the DeLorean Motor Company had ceased production. Its starring role as the eponymous time machine gained it cult status and an affection among fans around the world.

The growth in electric and hybrid vehicles over the last decade reflects the move towards more sustainable modes of transport. The ‘ethical’ aspects of DeLorean’s original DMC 12 design in its choice of materials and state-of-the-art safety features proved to be ahead of their time.

Although John DeLoreans story led him down a path of scandal, the distinctive sports car at the heart of it all was built here in Belfast and for the 2500 people employed at the Dunmurry factory, the DMC 12 provided a sense of hope for the future. 

These people exceeded all expectations building one of the most state-of-the-art car factories in the world and producing 9000 cars all in the space of less than 4 years. This connection is what makes the DeLorean car a part of our local story and highlights the skills and talents of those people who created it.

The DMC Factory, Dunmurry
The DMC-12 Factory at Dunmurry