Seventy DeLorean cars made famous by the Back To The Future movies have driven through Belfast, the city that built them, ahead of what has been hailed as the largest ever gathering of owners.
More of the world-famous stainless steel vehicles, with their distinctive gullwing doors, are expected to arrive in Northern Ireland for the four-day DeLorean Eurofest.
Among the owners who drove to the landmark Parliament Buildings at Stormont yesterday were three Germans who are ending their around-the-world DeLorean drive in Belfast.
At the start of the 1980s, controversial US industrialist John DeLorean brought his car manufacturing plant to Dunmurry in west Belfast with the lure of significant government financial support.
Although the factory initially injected some much-needed optimism in Troubles-era Northern Ireland, its stay was short-lived 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.
Fewer than 9,000 cars had rolled off the production line at the Dunmurry plant.
The majority of the cars that have descended on the city have come from elsewhere in Europe. Many other owners have travelled from further afield, having left their DeLoreans in the garage.
More than 250 owners and enthusiasts from 18 countries are expected in the city to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the cars first rolling off the production line.
The event is the biggest ever to be organised by the international DeLorean Owners’ Association.
DeLorean owner Tom Yeoman from Iowa in the US explained the enduring appeal of the car.
“What really brought them to the forefront was the Back To The Future movies, which started in 1985 – over 30 years ago,” he said.
“I have owned the one I have since 1993. The first one I ever saw was in Wichita, Kansas, in 1981, the first year they came out, and as soon as I saw it I said ‘I need to have one of those’.
“It took me 12 years to finally get one.”
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 owners driving their cars from as far away as Hungary all so that they can say they celebrated the 35th anniversary of the first DeLorean rolling off the production line, in Belfast.
“Over the course of the event the owners and enthusiasts will have a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in all things DeLorean including meeting with some of the people who worked in the Dunmurry factory. All these years later, they too still have a deep affection for this beautiful car and the dream it promised.”