28 May 2006

Enthusiasts celebrating DeLorean


**From Friday, 26 May 2006

More than 70 motor enthusiasts are in Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the DeLorean car.

John DeLorean died in March 2005 aged 80

The experiment and the business may have failed, but for the cars' owners, there is still a lot to celebrate.

A three-day birthday bash has already started in Northern Ireland, where the DeLorean was produced.

The company was based at Dunmurry, near Belfast. Almost £80m of public money was spent in the hope of creating 2,000 jobs.

The enthusiasts gathered in Lisburn, County Down, on Thursday to get celebrations off to a start.

The car owners are from 15 different countries. However, most cars owners who made the trip are from Germany.

One owner, Klaus Steiner, said: "It is a special event. You don't have such an event in another country - it is only in Belfast in Northern Ireland, where the car was born."

Another owner, Elvis Nocita, said he had to have one of the cars after seeing Back To The Future.

More than 70 DeLorean cars have come to NI

"As a kid I saw the movie and was impressed with the car - 20 years later I had to buy it," he said.

About 8,600 cars rolled off the production line in Dunmurry, but only 6,500 remain in existence.

Ronald Ferguson of the DeLorean Owners' Association said: "This is where it all started.

"To be able to come back to this location and talk to the former factory workers and take cars out onto the original test track - this is always where people will want to come to celebrate this car.

"This being the 25th anniversary this year is extra special."

'Back to the Future'

A DeLorean in good condition can cost £12,000.

The government decided to back the DeLorean factory with £77m.

More than £20m in legal fees was spent by the government in legal action against the auditors of the failed company, which collapsed in 1982.

Klaus Steiner said it was "a special event"

DeLorean, whose namesake car was turned into a time machine in the Back to the Future films, had been a rising executive at General Motors before starting his own company.

Manufacture of the DeLorean DMC-12 car began at the Dunmurry plant in 1981, with fewer than 9,000 cars rolling off the production lines before its closure the following year.

Despite the firm's failure the car, with its unpainted stainless steel skin and gull-wing doors, gained a cult following.

John DeLorean died in March 2005 aged 80.

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