The sleek design of a luxurious new electric DeLorean car has been given a cautious thumbs up by one of the bosses at the company’s original factory in Belfast.
Forty years on from the collapse of the Dunmurry production line, the DeLorean Motor Company caused a stir online this week by revealing pictures of a flashy new successor to the famous DMC-12.
The DeLorean EV has kept the famous gullwing doors of the original model, but in truth it looks more like a Lamborghini than the boxy, stainless-steel version made famous by the Back to the Future films.
It is also clearly aimed at those with deep pockets, with reports suggesting a price tag of around £138,000.
Barrie Wills (80), from Warwick, was part of the senior management team in Belfast when the DeLorean factory first opened in 1978.
He also had to hand over the keys to the factory when the business collapsed four years later.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he praised the revamped DeLorean but questioned if it could make money.
"I was quite sceptical at the outset, but the more I saw the more impressed I was by the design of the car and the approach they were taking to it,” Mr Wills said.
"I think they may still be underestimating the size of the task, having been there and done it. I was at an employee reunion in Belfast a few years ago, and I called what happened the automotive industry’s greatest ever near-miss.
"It was, because we should have succeeded but everything weighed against us.”
The new DeLorean comes with four seats, with the two gullwing doors allowing access to the front and back.
Mr Wills said this idea had already been in the mix in the 1980s with the DMC-24, but never got the chance to go into production.
"You can see the progression from that original idea to this new design,” he said.
The new look was created by the ItalDesign company, who were also behind the 1980s model.
“There’s a familiarity with this new car that’s been bugging me, so I did a bit of research and found a concept car ItalDesign did in 2019, called the DaVinci,” he said.
"It's nearly identical to the new DeLorean. So I think that the new company has gone to ItalDesign, looked at what they had in stock and put some gullwing doors on it.”
Asked if aiming the DeLorean at the luxury market can work, he said: “I hope they’ve done their costings. Whether the brand is capable of competing in such an arena I’m not so sure.
"Let’s face it, without the Back to the Future movies, the brand would have been forgotten about. They built around 9,000 of them which isn't many. So I’m a little bit sceptical about whether they can measure up to the price they seem to be heading for.”