Around 200 former employees and supporters of DeLorean Motor Cars, including many from the Midlands, are set to travel to Northern Ireland this Bank Holiday weekend for the car-maker’s first ever reunion.
The original DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was formed by automobile industry executive John DeLorean in 1975.
It is remembered for the one model it produced - the distinctive stainless steel DeLorean DMC-12 sports car which featured in the film Back to the Future.
Mr DeLorean received UK Government funding to produce the vehicle in Dunmurry, near Belfast, in Northern Ireland in a bid to create jobs in a country which suffered high unemployment.
Production had been due to start in 1979 but did not commence until 1981 and the automotive dream soon faded.
DeLorean’s brief and turbulent history came to an abrupt end in 1982, ending in receivership and bankruptcy.
One of those behind the reunion is Midlander Barrie Wills, a former director who headed-up DeLorean’s purchasing headquarters in Coventry, before later becoming the managing director of the company.
Former employees and supporters are travelling from as far as Oregon, Texas, Rhode Island, New Jersey, South Africa and across England to join their former Belfast colleagues at the event.
This year marks 35 years since the first production DeLorean DMC-12 was shown publicly at the North American Dealers’ Association convention in New Orleans, USA.
The former employees are getting together on Sunday May 3 at the Cultra Transport Museum.
There they will see up to 21 DeLoreans on display in the museum grounds, and visit the DeLorean Gallery in the museum.
Motoring enthusiasts will also be able to see the cars, which include a Back to the Future replica, and mingle with the cars’ owners and former employees.
Other events over the weekend include a private party at the Culloden Resort and Spa at Cultra, Co Down.
The hotel grounds were the starting point of the road testing of pre-production cars by US automotive journalists in the spring of 1981.
The party will also see a charity auction of DeLorean memorabilia and a DeLorean Chat Show featuring former employees with tales to tell.
On May 4 there will be opportunities for the public to see DeLorean cars when a convoy travels one of the routes of the DeLorean durability tests, meeting up with a coach party of former employees for lunch.
On May 5, former employees will tour the former DeLorean site at Dunmurry, on which nearly 2,000 people are currently employed.
The automotive aluminium foundry, Montupet UK, will be hosting a display of photographs of the plant as it was in 1980 through to 1982, when there were up to 2,500 DeLorean employees.
After lunch in the former DeLorean canteen, there will be a ride and drive experience on the recently restored test track on the Montupet site.
Mr Wills, who lives in Millison’s Wood near Meriden, said: “More than a dozen DeLorean owners will offer rides to former employees, many of whom will never have sat in the stainless steel gull-winged car, which featured in the film Back to the Future.
“Most will certainly never have experienced a couple of laps of the kilometre-long circuit on which every production car was tested before shipment to the USA.
“During the Sunday evening party, the attendees will also be paying their respects to over 80 of their deceased colleagues, including founder John DeLorean, company president Gene Cafiero and managing directors Chuck Bennington and Donald H Lander.”
He added: “About 2,500 people in Belfast, Turin, Coventry, Norfolk and Worthing worked their socks off to perform a modern miracle that turned out to be the impossible.
“This is to be the first ever - and probably the last - reunion.”