Back to the future as 70 DeLoreans land in Belfast for car's 35th anniversary
It was back to where it all began for 70 DeLorean cars and their owners yesterday as they made their way through Belfast, the city where they were built.
The cavalcade came ahead of what has been hailed as the largest ever gathering of owners of the famous car - the four-day DeLorean Eurofest.
The event will see up to 250 of the vehicles from 18 countries descend on the city to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the car that starred in the Back To The Future movies.
Among the enthusiasts were three DeLorean globetrotters from Germany who had travelled almost 23,500 miles in a round-the-world trip.
The team - Wolfgang Hank, Andre Springer and Klaus Steiner - set off eight months ago to circle the planet, covering Europe, Asia and Australia in their beloved motors.
After tens of thousands of miles and a number of adventures -including having the cars impounded by quarantine officials in Australia - the trio reached their final destination of Belfast yesterday.
They were joined by 65 other DeLorean owners in a convoy that travelled from the Europa Hotel to Stormont.
Today they will enjoy a series of private events, including a visit to the site of the former DeLorean factory at Dunmurry, which is now owned by car components firm Montupet.
But not everything will be behind closed doors, and the public will get a chance to see the vehicles when they visit Titanic Belfast tomorrow afternoon.
Ronald Ferguson, president of the DeLorean Owners Association, said: "Our ability to attract so many DeLorean owners to make the journey to Belfast for this event is testament to the high regard in which this city and the people who created this wonderful sports car are held. We have DeLorean owners driving their vehicles from as far away as Hungary, and all so that they can say they celebrated the 35th anniversary of the first DeLorean rolling off the production line in Belfast.
"Throughout the course of the festival the owners and the enthusiasts will have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in all things DeLorean - including meeting some of the people who worked in the Dunmurry plant.
"All these years later, they too still have a deep affection for this beautiful car and the dream that it promised."
At the start of the 1980s US industrialist John DeLorean brought his car manufacturing plant to south-west Belfast after attracting considerable financial support from the British Government.
Although the factory initially injected some much-needed optimism into Troubles-era Northern Ireland, the firm was shortlived and ultimately ended in failure.
When the first Back To The Future film was released in 1985, the DeLorean plant had already been closed for three years.
By 1982, fewer than 9,000 of the cars had rolled off the production line.