DeLorean: Not a car company with a long and illustrious history. In fact, one with a turbulent, troubled past, albeit one eternally remembered through the window of pop culture thanks to that one rather significant movie cameo.
But what if DeLorean did continue past the early 1980s? That’s something the modern-day DeLorean Motor Company asked itself, with the launch of its Alpha5, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance just around the corner.
Under the tagline ‘DeLorean Untold‘, DeLorean tracks the progress from the DMC-24 – a project genuinely in the works before the company folded – to the Alpha5. The cars in between never happened, even as contemporary sketches, but if they had, the automotive world might have been a very different place…
DMC 24 Alpha (1982)
We all know what a DeLorean is – or think we do. But it’s a sign of the company’s forward-thinking that even in 1981, as the DMC-12 was hitting the streets, that the DMC-24 – known internally as Project 831/1, or the DMC200, was already in the works.
Italdesign penned a four-door shape, and one that would not be clothed in stainless steel like the DMC-12. DeLorean planned the use of new materials, but the project was dropped when the receivers were called in, in 1982. Since DeLorean never paid its bill, Giugiaro took the shape elsewhere, and it ended up as the Lamborghini Marco Polo concept.
Looking like a kind of cyberpunk Corvette, the fictional Alpha2 would have marked a return to sports cars for the DeLorean brand, albeit in an all-new format compared to the mid-engined DMC-12.
With an aero look becoming popular in the era (modelled, naturally, using early computer aided design techniques), and gullwing doors providing a suitable gimmick, it would have fit right in to a market embracing cars like the Dodge Viper, and Japanese competition such as the Honda NSX and Toyota Supra.
Alpha3 previews another change in direction for the alternate-history DeLorean brand as it approached the new millennium. Design was once again changing as the 1990s drew to a close, and environmental concerns were increasing – albeit laced with more optimism than our current outlook.
Monobox shapes were also in vogue, so it’s no surprise this hypothetical tangent takes us down the path of a sleek, largely one-box family car – sporting those obligatory gullwing doors, albeit at the rear this time. Sound familiar? That might be because the modern-day Tesla Model X offers the same feature. Alpha3 would have been an EV too, though in reality, electric vehicles only began to take off in numbers in the second decade of this millennium.
Inevitably, we come to the SUV portion of DeLorean’s fictional history, with the Alpha4 – a hydrogen fuel-cell SUV designed primarily for the North American market, packed with the kind of driver-assistance features we now take for granted in modern cars.
Once again there are a few nods to that original DMC-12, in some of the lighting graphics and in those strong character lines, replicating the split in the original, though it’s difficult not to see Alpha4 as being a little on-the-nose, given SUVs have largely replaced actual sports cars in buyers’ affections.
DeLorean hasn’t forgotten about sports cars, and that’s where Alpha5 comes in – a low-slung, gullwing-doored style statement with electric power and technology appropriate for its decade.
Unveiled back in May, DeLorean calls it the result of a brand evolution 40 years in the making – and the previous, concepts, between the oh-so-close DMC-24 and the Alpha5, really are a clever way of filling in that gap, explaining the company’s lineage in the same kind of way that you might get to the Porsche Taycan by way of Boxster, Cayenne and Panamera.
DeLorean will reveal the physical manifestation of this evolution – fictional or otherwise – when the Alpha5 makes its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 21. Hopefully, a few DMC-12s – still the only real vehicle DeLorean ever made – will be there to greet it.