go BACK TO the future

automotive DeLorean Motor Co. plans to bring its iconic sports car back in the not-too-distant future.

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Paul Takahashi
, Houston Chronicle

automotive DeLorean Motor Co. plans to bring its iconic sports car back in the not-too-distant future.

The Humble-based car company is working with U.K.-based Lotus Cars to develop a prototype for a modernized replica of the DMC-12 that was made a sci-fi legend by the 1985 film "Back to the Future." The company hopes to start manufacturing the new DeLorean locally in early 2019.

"We're getting ready to live a new dream," president Roger Dartt told a Houston Entrepreneurs' Forum breakfast Tuesday. Dartt drove to the meeting in his personal DeLorean, which he purchased from a seller in Ohio 10 years ago.

A 2015 federal law, which exempts low-volume manufacturing of classic cars from much of the regulatory oversight on new vehicle production, spurred the remake of the famous DeLorean. When it first rolled off the production lines in 1981, the two-seater sports car sold for about $26,000 and featured a Renault 130-horsepower engine and signature gull-wing doors that opened skyward.

"It was absolutely groundbreaking technology," Dartt said. "The door was one of the most complicated things on the car."

Used DeLoreans typically cost between $55,000 and $65,000, Dartt said.

The new DeLorean will have a 360-horsepower, six-cylinder engine that meets today's emission standards, Dartt said. The vehicle likely won't have air bags - or the "flux capacitor" immortalized in the movie. It will start at around $120,000.

DeLorean Motor Co. considered building an electric version several years ago but tabled the idea. The 22-employee company plans to ramp up production from a few cars in the first year to about 325 cars annually in the U.S. Eventually, it hopes to hire more workers to build nearly 5,000 DeLoreans globally, Dartt said.

Founder John Z. DeLorean manufactured 8,583 DeLoreans in Ireland in 1981 and 1982 before the company went bankrupt. DeLorean Motor Co., now led by owner and CEO Stephen Wynne, has restored many of the 7,000-plus DeLoreans still on the road.

The company has a 40,000-square-foot facility in Humble, where some 3 million DeLorean parts are held.

Classic-car buff Doug McMurrey, principal of Houston-based Broad Reach Energy, attended the entrepreneurship breakfast, curious to learn more about the new DeLorean. He said he had planned to purchase one of the last DeLoreans in 1982 but was worried about finding parts for the vehicle after production ceased.

"I've been kicking myself ever since," McMurrey said. "I'm a possible buyer (of the new DeLorean). I'm a believer."

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