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DeLorean workers to celebrate supercar’s anniversary

The stainless steel design of the DeLorean is almost timeless, said former executive Barrie Wills

The stainless steel design of the DeLorean is almost timeless, said former executive Barrie Wills

Unlike the blockbuster movies that propelled it to worldwide iconic status, the original DeLorean supercar never really took off.

Built in Belfast after a relatively whirlwind life cycle from concept to manufacture, the real star of the Back to the Future trilogy was dogged by complaints of road noise, creaking chassis and gull-wing doors that sometimes refused to stay open.

However, despite its many shortcomings, the city where the first of 9,000 DeLorean DMC-12s rolled off the production line in 1981 has never fallen out of love with the stainless steel oddity – and a reunion of the people who made it happen is planned to mark the 35th anniversary of its first preproduction appearance in 1980.

By early 1983 the dream was over, and the charismatic car boss John DeLorean spent years fighting multi-million pound fraud and drugs charges.

Former workers at the Dunmurry factory and their families are being invited to attend the event at the Culloden Hotel near Holywood next May.

Two former DeLorean executives, Barrie Wills and David Adams, believe the anniversary to be a good reason for what they call a “long overdue” employees’ reunion.

Included on the guest list are key figures who supported the ambitious project, including officials from the Northern Ireland Development Agency, Lotus Cars and Italdesign of Turin – the car’s designers.

Among those already planning to attend are former shop steward Brendan Mackin, traffic department driver Neal Barclay and parts and service manager Anthony Gough.

Barrie Wills said the DeLorean story has an enduring appeal for many reasons.

“The car is almost timeless in its appearance. If you were to just put a pair of modern headlamps on the car it would look modern today, it is that iconic – and the fact that John DeLorean was such a maverick entrepreneur who set out to do something that perhaps was impossible.

“Regardless of the impossibility, we darn well nearly did it. Set that against the background of the time, and all that was going on around us, and it’s a remarkable story.

“And one cannot escape from the fact that there were three movies made shortly afterwards that contributed to the youngsters of today knowing the car so well – that is incredible really,” he said.

Commenting on the planned reunion, Mr Wills said: “It’s all right us former executives getting together and reminiscing, but the people we have lost touch with are the people who did the real work like building the cars, and typing the envelopes, and the rest of the things that went on.”

Those interested in attending the reunion can contact barriewills42@gmail.com for further information.

 

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