James Bartlett talks with Stephen Wynne, the man behind the DeLorean auto icon rebirth.
Four million. That’s how many spare parts Stephen Wynne estimates he has at the main DeLorean facility near Houston, Texas, and at the repair centres in Florida and California.
A petrolhead since his childhood in Liverpool, England, Wynne came to America in the 1980s as a car mechanic to repair British and French cars and then found himself being asked about the then-new DeLoreans, which had exploded onto the market in a blaze of publicity.
The story of creator John Z. DeLorean’s meteoric rise – and fall – is infamous if not misunderstood, but long before Back to the Future retrospectively made his sportscar an icon, Wynne and thousands more were hooked on the brand’s “out of the box thinking” about design and image.
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Since then, Wynne had his own dream – almost an obsession, he would readily admit – about bringing the car back to the road for a new generation.
“I’ve always believed in the brand, and that there’s more to come,” says Wynne. “The recognition and the support it has from owners and the public alike is exceptional.”
He committed his future to the DeLorean Motor Company in 1997, some 15 years after the last of around 9,000 cars had rolled off the factory line in Belfast, Northern Ireland when he and his then-business partner bought all the remaining stock.
“We essentially shipped the entire factory – 1,800 remaining cars, engines, tools, storage bins and even still-unopened boxes of spare parts – to America. Then for years, I travelled the world buying up all the remaining cars and spares from dealers and collectors.”
While he waited years for the government red tape around low-volume classic cars to unwind, he occasionally lost engineers to the Texas petroleum industry boom. Yet the market for used DeLoreans always remained robust, and DMC garages were always busy because, like any other vehicles, they needed repairs and modifications.
“Some parts are in short supply now, but since we’re only ever looking for a small number, other factories are glad to take on what for them is almost a test run. Of course, the DeLorean name always helps.”
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Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, a relentless drive, and endless patience – elements you’ll find in most classic car owners – Wynne recalls the moment when the new DeLorean Alpha5 was revealed at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2022.
“It had happened a decade later than I planned, but at that moment I had to get away from the madness, from all the people, and just sit down and take it all in.”
Italian-designed, the sleek four-seater is all-electric, with rounded lines and slim lights, plus a promised top speed of 155 mph (249km/ph). The famous gull-wing doors are there for front-seat passengers, and it is very different from the Classic DeLorean already known to the world. “Great Scott!” indeed.
“Electricity is the future of cars – look how Tesla has worked its way into the automotive market – and we also thought that four doors was the way to go,” Wynne explains, mentioning that he felt his grandchildren, ages 12, 6, and 4, should all be able to enjoy a ride in a luxury vehicle.
“My grandson, the youngest, won’t leave the house without a toy DeLorean in each pocket. He puts them on the table at dinner, beside his knife and fork. I think he’s the next generation of the family business,” he laughs.
His grown son Cameron is already brand director at the California office and is working full speed on alternate opportunities. Recently, 456 SPX Danish/Swiss watches constructed from one of John DeLorean’s personal company cars sold out immediately at a cool US$1,995 each.
Always keen to get out of his office, Wynne still likes to get under the hood, and occasionally he buys a dilapidated barn-find DeLorean – what he calls an “ugly duckling” – and restores it to its former glory.
At home, he owns a number of classics including a Mercedes 380 SL, a Jaguar XJS V12, a Lotus Espirit, “and an electric pick-up truck – this is Texas, after all!”, but he is first and foremost a DeLorean driver. He regularly takes repaired vehicles on 800-kilometre “shakedown” test drives before they are returned to owners, and his personal runabout DeLorean is painted black.
“It makes me feel like I am going incognito, because driving any of the silver ones, it’s almost impossible to gas up or park without being approached by people wanting to talk or to take selfies.”
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With that reveal of the Alpha5, which has a price tag to be announced and is due to come to market in 2024, DeLorean split into two. Wynne is now CEO of Classic DeLorean, while the new venture will be located in San Antonio, already a car production hub for GM and Toyota.
There is already a waiting list for the planned run of 4,000 Alpha5s, and Wynne has received many offers from established automotive factories that want the thrill of being the place where, once again, a DeLorean drives off the production line.
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