DeLorean owners' Norfolk rally
PUBLISHED: 08:30 05 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 22 October 2010
A sedate and law-abiding pace was called for in the real world when owners of one of the car industry's most controversial icons gathered in Norfolk to mark a special anniversary.
At 88mph, they could have broken through the barriers of time - with the help of a little movie magic, anyway.
But a more sedate and law-abiding pace was called for in the real world when owners of one of the car industry's most controversial icons gathered in Norfolk to mark a special anniversary.
A convoy of DeLorean DMC-12 sports cars toured along the A149 coast road from Old Hunstanton to Wells on Saturday, ahead of a celebration dinner and a trip yesterday to the Lotus plant at Hethel, near Norwich, where much of the design and development of the ill-fated marque was carried out.
It is 25 years since flamboyant American tycoon John DeLorean launched his namesake sports car, with its futuristic, stainless steel body and “gull-wing” doors.
Production at the Belfast factory was halted the following year as the business crashed and went into receivership, having swallowed some £85m of British taxpayers' money.
DeLorean himself was charged but subsequently acquitted of smuggling cocaine to raise funds for the ailing company. He died last year following a stroke.
But his creation was elevated to cult status after it starred as an 88mph time machine in the popular Back to the Future films, starring Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Michael J Fox as Marty McFly.
The first of the trilogy, released in 1985, was one of the highest grossing films of the decade.
And it was seeing the car on the big screen which fired the imagination of many members of the DeLorean Owners Club UK, organisers of the anniversary weekend based at Caley Hall Hotel, Old Hunstanton.
“It's such a beautiful looking car,” said hotel owner Arran Jamieson, who bought his DeLorean a year and a half ago.
“It's a design classic and for most people my age and younger it's the Back to the Future connection. I think I watched Back to the Future at the cinema - I was very young when I saw it.
“The film is kind of the key to the whole thing. If it wasn't for the film, nobody would know what they were these days.”
DeLoreans were condemned by the motoring press when they first hit the road in 1981, with one critic describing them as “gull-winged for the gullible.”
“It wasn't helped by the exchange rate and the recession in America and I think there was a fairly poor reception of the car,” said Mr Jamieson.
“People were critical of the build quality and the performance. That didn't help the car but I think you'll find most of the cars here have been modified to go faster - and obviously the build quality has held up because they are still here 25 years later.”
Around 30 club members from as far away as Cumbria joined the anniversary celebration, which was the largest ever gathering of DeLoreans in mainland UK.
Celebrity owners of the marque include the presenter and chat show host, Patrick Kielty, and James Bourne from boy band, Busted.
Originally aimed at the US market, nearly all of the 9,000 or so which were built were left-hand drive.
Although capable of far more than the famous 88mph reached in the films, the DeLorean's speedometer only goes as high as 85mph, because of American regulations at the time.
“It's fun to drive, really - it's like driving around in a toy,” said Mr Jamieson.
“It does attract a lot of attention and that's the thing I don't necessarily like about it.
“You can't park at Tesco very easily without people looking at you and pointing.”
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