An insider view of the Back to the Future’s DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean production at the Dunmurry plant

DeLorean production at the Dunmurry plant

A Midland author has released a book on the legendary Irish-built sportscar the DeLorean DMC-12 to coincide with Back To The Future day.

Not only did Wednesday, October 21, mark the date Marty McFly “arrived in the future” in Back to the Future 2 but it also saw the release of a new book by a Midland man that lifts the lid on the making of the DMC-12.

The car made famous by the Hollywood Back to the Future blockbusters was made in Northern Ireland but had a purchasing office in the Midlands – where author Barrie Wills initially worked.

His book, John Z, The DeLorean & Me … Tales From An Insider, promises to ‘reveal all’ for the first time about the four-and-a-half year period which saw DeLorean cars manufactured from the late 1970s with the backing of the British government.

The cover of Barrie Wills’ book ‘John Z, the DeLorean & Me ... tales from an insider’

The cover of Barrie Wills’ book ‘John Z, the DeLorean & Me … tales from an insider’

Mr Wills, who now lives in Meriden, was the company’s longest serving employee and its final chief executive.

He has written a detailed insider’s account of how the project got off the ground, how it progressed and how it faltered before ultimately failing.

For much of the time Mr Wills ran DeLorean’s purchasing office based in Coventry and was at the table for many of the key meetings during the ambitious but doomed automotive project.

Mr Wills said: “My book tells how automotive industry records were broken, how advanced technology was pioneered and how a mixed Unionist and Nationalist workforce of 2,500 strived in harmony for success.

“Also how firebombing and British army occupation of the manufacturing plant disrupted production, how the worst recession in American industrial history in the harsh winter of 1981-82 led to bankruptcy and receivership and also tells of when a committed and determined workforce occupied and protected the factory.

“Of course no book on the DeLorean project would be complete without telling how a cocaine-trafficking FBI sting entrapped the firm’s founder John DeLorean.”

Mr Wills said he has many fond memories of the period but was also disappointed the determined efforts he and many others made to salvage car production when DeLorean collapsed did not succeed.

A line-up of DeLorean DMC-12s in Portrush at a reception given by the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens,  Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan

A line-up of DeLorean DMC-12s in Portrush at a reception given by the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan

He said: “A British rescue plan, based on manufacturing the gull-winged DeLorean and the Triumph TR8 sports car – rebranded with the illustrious Healey name – was thwarted by Margaret Thatcher.

“Ultimately the keys of the state-of the-art factory in Dunmurry near Belfast were handed over to auctioneers and the people of Northern Ireland were left behind as the real losers.”

Mr Wills said the DeLorean remained the automotive industry’s greatest ever “near miss” but said he is also pleased the car is still so loved around the world – in large part down to its Back to the Future connections.

Another new insight in the book examines how Conservative politician and Sunday Telegraph columnist Jock Bruce-Gardyne influenced the Government’s eventual decision to bring DeLorean production to a close.

Mr Wills said: “For the very first time, the negative impact and influence upon the demise of the project of the Conservative politician and Sunday Telegraph columnist – the ‘Thatcherite before Thatcher’ Jock Bruce-Gardyne, who deplored the UK/USA special relationship and became Economic Secretary to the Treasury – is revealed.”

The hardback book of 392 pages, supported by almost 600 colour and black and white photographs, most being seen publicly for the first time, will be available on Amazon, eBay, from the publishers DeLorean Garage (www.delorean.com), Waterstones and through the car book specialists Chaters. It costs £25.

Read our article on the recent DeLorean workers reunion here