Taylor: The competition over the DeLorean’s legacy heats up – San Antonio Express-News
August was a big month for the DeLorean car company’s legacy. Aug. 18 was a particularly big day on both ends of the country. On the West Coast, San Antonio-based DeLorean Motors Reimagined hosted a public launch of its Alpha5 concept car at the 70th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance auto show.
Also that day, in New Hampshire, Kathryn DeLorean, daughter of original founder John Z. DeLorean, proposed a separate and unaffiliated addition to the DeLorean lore. She is behind the DeLorean Legacy Project, an educational engineering center with plans to build a signature tribute car, the Model JZD, initially designed in 2020.
The former is a for-profit business, while the latter is a historical tribute and nonprofit educational project. Both are attempts to define what this car brand meant in the past and will mean in the future. What is DeLorean’s legacy?
Ever since its prominent role in the iconic Michael J. Fox-led “Back to the Future” movie franchise, the DeLorean brand has operated in a space between the past and future. Any DeLorean-related project must reckon with the seemingly incongruent notion that a car bearing that name is a 40-year-old throwback marketing itself as a blast into the future.
The DeLorean of our imagination embodies this paradox — a retro-futuristic manifestation.
Actors Christopher Lloyd, left, as Dr. Emmett Brown; and Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in the 1985 film “Back to the Future” helped create the enduring fandom for the DeLorean car featured in the movie.
The folks at DeLorean Motors Reimagined know this. The “5” in Alpha5, the prototype they debuted last week at Pebble Beach, builds on a fictitious history that the company devised of having imagined prior models — Alphas 2, 3 and 4 — in prior decades. It’s a cool made-up retconned legacy.
Their signature tagline — “The Future Was Never Promised” — to me sounds somewhat apologetic, as if anticipating and responding to a disappointed fan who objects to their vision of the future for DeLorean.
Unfortunately, or maybe inevitably, it’s proving hard to satisfy hardcore fans who want both retro and futuristic styling. So far, it’s gone over about as well as did Hayden Christiansen’s portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels.
Delorean Motors Reimagined’s Instagram page contains relentless complaints and accusations about the Alpha5: that it’s not a real DeLorean, that it clearly reused a 2019 design for a concept car called the DaVinci, that it looks like a Tesla, and that it doesn’t honor the DeLorean’s design legacy. To satisfy your own schadenfreude, visit their social media.
At odds over IP
The most immediate challenge to Delorean Motors Reimagined’s business goals hit it a week before Pebble Beach. Southern California-based electric carmaker Karma Automotive sued the San Antonio company and its top executives, accusing them of stealing intellectual property and breaching nondisclosure agreements they signed as Karma employees in 2021. To have a future, they will need to address this past in court.