Thanks to the wonderful-but-flawed low-volume “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act” (H.R. 2675) , it’s now legal for the company that bought all of the old leftover DeLorean parts to start putting them together to make new DMC-12s. And this time it seems like it’ll actually happen, starting early next year.
We’ve heard this before, as far back as 2008. But it finally seems possible only now, thanks to the new law that allows low-volume manufacturers who make replicas of cars 25 years or older to not be held to the same standards as Toyota, cranking out millions of Corollas.
The DeLorean Motor Car Company issued this statement about the law and their plans to resurrect DeLorean production:
The new law provides common-sense regulatory relief for small businesses that would otherwise be treated as if they were producing millions of cars. The companies are required to register with NHTSA and EPA, and file annual production reports. The replica vehicles will be subject to equipment standards, recalls and remedies.
The vehicles must meet current Clean Air Act standards for the model year in which they are produced. The new law allows the low volume vehicle manufacturer to meet the standards by installing an engine and emissions equipment produced by another automaker (GM, Ford, etc.) for a similar EPA-certified vehicle configuration or a create engine that has been granted a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO). This reasonable regulatory reform will also spur innovation, including advances in alternative-fuel and green vehicle technologies.
Very exciting news. In the DeLorean’s particular case, the definition of them as “replicars” is a bit fuzzy, because the DeLorean Motor Company of Texas bought the leftover inventory of parts from the original DeLorean company back in 1997. They say they have enough parts for about 300 cars, which makes me wonder: are these replicas if they’re being built with the same parts as the originals?
While that’s an interesting philosophical question, the real interesting question is what drivetrain is going in these reborn DeLoreans? I don’t think anyone’s really hoping to get the old 2.8-liter Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6, with its sad little stable of only 130 horses.
While the Texas company has experimented with electric DMC-12 conversions, these new cars are likely to have some large-volume manufacturer’s engine in there, to keep with the Clean Air Act provision of the law that makes these cars possible.
Here’s where they’re at on that:
... DeLorean Motor Company has been working for some time to identify a supplier for engines and other parts that must be reproduced to facilitate this production for 2017. A number of hurdles exist before production can begin, and we’re still early on in this process of determining the feasibility of moving forward.
I’ve tried to get an answer from the company, but so far they’ve just told me they won’t tell me yet. If I had to guess, I think some sort of GM LS V8 crate motor is a likely option, if they can get it to fit back there. I think something like Ford’s EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder from the Mustang could be interesting as well, and, as an idiot, I’d even like to see an option for the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder, too.
Sadly, we don’t know just yet. I’ll keep trying to find out, and will update if I get any information.
The new DMC-12s are expected to cost around $100,000, and should have modernized electronics and all the things you really wouldn’t want to keep from a 1980s car.
The poor guy answering their phones today sounded pretty exasperated, tired of dealing with calls all day. That’s probably good news for the company, but I think he deserves Friday off.
UPDATE: I was finally able to talk to James Espey, the VP of the company, and while he couldn’t come out and tell me exactly what the new drivetrain would be, I did get a few good details:
• While GM is an engine option, they’re not the only ones. They’re looking at three possible suppliers, two domestic, one foreign. There’s one favorite though, and the engine that’s the frontrunner is a normally-aspirated V6 making between 300-400 HP. This seems to be the non-American company, and while the company wouldn’t comment, it may well be Japanese. It may be Toyota, but that’s just a guess.
Lotus already buys the Camry’s V6, right? They cram that into some tight areas. That 3.5-liter 2GR-FSE V6 used in the Lexus IS makes over 300 HP now; maybe that one?
• The center stack, HVAC, and some other ancillaries will be from the current-favorite supplier.
• Because it’s a rear-engine configuration, a transaxle setup will be used, though they would not tell me that supplier just yet.
• The new DeLorean will have bigger wheels, bigger brakes, and shocks from “a famous German supplier.” Bilstein?
This all sounds quite promising, and should really improve the character of the car, now that it has over twice as much power.