What Engine is in a DeLorean: Unveiling the Iconic Sports Car’s Powertrain

The DeLorean Motor Company’s most renowned vehicle, the DeLorean, is a symbol of the 1980s and a pop culture icon, largely owing to its role in the “Back to the Future” film trilogy.

At the heart of this iconic car is its engine, which was a subject of much discussion during its development phase.

The engine selected for the DeLorean was the PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6, an engine that emerged from a collaborative effort amongst three major European automakers.

A Delorean with its hood open, revealing a stainless steel engine with three vertical cylinders and a distinctive exhaust system

The PRV V6 engine was a 2.85-liter, fuel-injected powerplant that was seen as a suitable match for the DeLorean’s aspirations.

Stamping its uniqueness, the engine featured a 90-degree V6 configuration with aluminum-alloy construction, giving it the necessary balance between weight and performance.

Although not the mightiest in terms of raw power output, producing about 130 horsepower, it was pivotal in propelling the stainless steel-clad sports car to the status of a cult classic.

Throughout the production of the DeLorean, this V6 engine was at the core, ensuring that its futuristic aesthetic was matched with a reliable, if not awe-inspiring, driving experience.

The Legacy of the DeLorean DMC-12

The DeLorean DMC-12’s distinct style and its role in ‘Back to the Future’ have cemented its status in automotive and pop culture history. Let’s explore its iconic design and the impact it continues to have on society.

Cultural Impact of Back to the Future

We recognize the DMC-12 predominantly through its time-traveling persona in the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy. The film’s success skyrocketed the car to fame, making it one of the most recognizable vehicles worldwide.

Its association with the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown have immortalized the DMC-12 beyond a mere automobile to a symbol of 1980s culture and nostalgia.

Its stainless steel exterior, gull-wing doors, and association with time travel are imprinted in the minds of several generations. This cultural legacy extends to a range of merchandise, countless movie references, and has made the DMC-12 a prized collectible for enthusiasts.

Design Evolution and Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Influence

Our understanding of the DeLorean’s allure isn’t complete without acknowledging the contributions of famed designer Giorgetto Giugiaro.

His vision crafted the DMC-12’s futuristic form—a testament to the era’s optimist style. Giugiaro’s influence is evident in the car’s sharp lines and bold features, helping distinguish it from contemporaries.

The DMC-12 was more than a mode of transportation; it was a statement.

The stainless steel panels were unconventional, providing a sleek aesthetic that didn’t require painting. Coupled with the characteristic gull-wing doors, the vehicle exuded a charm that was set to defy the trends of the time.

In reflecting on the vehicle’s design legacy, we acknowledge that Giugiaro’s influence on the DMC-12 propelled it to an icon status, with a visual appeal that has remained both relevant and celebrated to this day.

Performance and Technical Specifications

In this section, we cover the DeLorean’s engine, its overall performance including speed and horsepower, and its handling capabilities thanks to its suspension, brakes, and other related systems.

Engine and Drivetrain Features

The DMC DeLorean is powered by a 2.8-liter V6 engine, often referred to as the PRV engine, a collaborative effort between Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo.

This rear-mounted power unit generates a modest 130 horsepower and 153 lb-ft of torque. It’s coupled with either a five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic transmission.

With an overall displacement of 2,849 cc and a 9.5:1 compression ratio, the engine’s six cylinders operate with around a 91 mm stroke.

Analyzing Speed and Horsepower

Despite its sports car appearance, the DeLorean wasn’t known for breathtaking speed.

Its top speed is capped at approximately 110 mph (177 km/h), and it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.8 seconds. The power output, as mentioned above, is 130 horsepower, which for its era was fairly average for a sports car.

Suspension, Brakes, and Handling

Handling in the DeLorean is assisted by rack and pinion steering, providing a tighter and more direct steering response.

The car’s suspension system employs independent coils and wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear with telescopic shock absorbers.

The braking system consists primarily of disc brakes for improved stopping power and fade resistance.

The rear-engine layout affects weight distribution and thus, its handling dynamics.

We must also note that while the car’s performance numbers aren’t stellar by modern standards, they were more competitive during the vehicle’s original production years in the early 1980s.

Production and Company History

In this section, we discuss the key periods in the history of the DeLorean Motor Company, including its ambitious beginnings, ultimate bankruptcy, and subsequent revival.

From Dunmurry to Bankruptcy

The conceptual brainchild of John DeLorean, the DMC DeLorean was produced in Dunmurry, a suburb of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The production run of this iconic vehicle spanned a short period from 1981 to 1983.

Key Production Facts:
  • Production began in 1981.
  • Bankruptcy declared in 1982.
  • Factory located in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

John Z. DeLorean’s Vision

John Z. DeLorean’s vision was to create a futuristic and distinctive sports car. The DeLorean Motor Company originated in 1975 when DeLorean established it in Detroit, Michigan, before moving operations to Northern Ireland.

DeLorean’s ambition was to break the norms of the automotive industry with an avant-garde design which sadly also played a role in its short-lived production.

The Revival of DeLorean Motor Company

In the late 1990s, the DeLorean Motor Company saw a resurgence when Texas-based mechanic Stephen Wynne acquired the DeLorean trademark and inventory.

Based in California and Texas, Wynne’s operation set out not just to maintain and restore existing DMC DeLoreans but also to restarted limited production using new old stock parts. This effort brought renewed interest to the brand.

Resurgence Details:
  • Trademark acquired by Stephen Wynne in the 1990s.
  • Company based in California and Texas.
  • Limited production with existing parts.

Buying a DeLorean Today

When considering the purchase of a DeLorean today, buyers should be aware of market prices and the unique maintenance considerations. Navigating the pre-owned market effectively and understanding the ownership responsibilities will ensure a positive DeLorean experience.

Pre-owned Market Prices and Availability

Prices: The current market for DeLoreans is robust, with prices typically starting around $45,000 for a model in good condition. Rare finds or models with significant upgrades may command higher prices.

Availability: Despite their niche status, DeLoreans are available across various platforms, including specialty car dealerships, online auctions, and car shows.

The retail price depends significantly on the car’s condition, mileage, and history. It’s essential to survey the market thoroughly and consider the investment aspect of purchasing such an iconic American car.

Maintenance, Upgrades, and Warranty

Owning a DeLorean means committing to a unique maintenance routine.

Quality assurance is paramount due to the vehicle’s age and engineering.

Maintenance Task Frequency Associated Costs
Engine Tune-Up Biennially Variable
Bodywork As needed Up to several thousand dollars

Upgrades can enhance performance and reliability.

Owners may opt to replace the original PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6 engine with more modern and powerful units, install contemporary amenities, or improve the suspension and brakes for better handling.

Each upgrade should be carefully considered to maintain the vehicle’s value and character.

Warranty options for DeLoreans are limited due to their age.
It’s advisable to establish a relationship with a specialized mechanic for ongoing support.
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