Made famous in the movie "Back to the Future," where it was transformed from clunky lemon to uber-cool time machine, the DeLorean may be poised for a comeback.
The DeLorean Motor Company, a Humble, Texas-based company that inherited the spare parts and engineering plans when the factory went belly up in the 1980s, said that by 2008, it will start producing up to 24 original DeLoreans a year.
For the past few years, DMC, which has dealers in five U.S. cities and one in Amsterdam, has primarily been a restoration business, said James Espy, the company's vice president. DMC takes "donor cars," strips them to their frame and rebuilds them with the new, unused parts it inherited.
That process, however, is becoming more trouble than it's worth.
"We are to the point now where the quality and quantity of donor cars is becoming cost prohibitive," Espy said. "The bad cars are getting worse and costing more."
Instead, the company will start using its 40,000-square-foot factory of parts to build entirely new cars out of original donor parts.
"We'll use brand new components using these engineering drawings, using the new old stock," Espy said.
Although DeLoreans ceased production in 1982 — only about 9,000 were produced — many companies still make parts that are compatible with the original vehicles, according to Espy.
"We've got literally 1,000 doors here," Espy said. "The door is the most complicated part to reproduce."
Only a small amount of DeLoreans are being produced because more would require more money and manpower.
"My primary business has been the sale of parts to current owners. I need to take care of people who take care of me," Espy said. "In order for me to do more than 24 cars per year, it will require significant investment. ... I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it."
Currently, a completely restored model sells for $42,500. That price will go up next year when the company offers all new models, Espy said.