John DeLorean founded the DeLorean Motor Company in
Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 1975. He was already well known in the automobile industry as a capable engineer, business innovator, and youngest person to become a
General Motors (GM) executive.
capital came primarily in the form of business loans from the
Bank of America and from the formation of
partnerships and private investment from select parties, including
The Tonight Show host
Johnny Carson and entertainers
Roy Clark and
Sammy Davis, Jr.. Money was also gained later through a dealer investment program in which those dealerships offering DeLorean's cars for sale were made shareholders in the company.
DeLorean also sought lucrative incentives from various government and economic organizations to pay for constructing the company's automobile manufacturing facilities. To gain these, he looked to build his first factory in a country or area where unemployment was particularly high. One candidate was
Ireland, although the country's then
Minister for Industry and Commerce,
Desmond O'Malley, decided not to support the project. A deal in
Puerto Rico was about to be agreed when DeLorean took up a last-minute offer from
Industrial Development Board. Besides taking some early
seed capital from Hollywood stars
Sammy Davis Jr. and
Johnny Carson, DeLorean Motor Company relied on the British government for about $120 million of its $200 million startup costs according to the newspaper
The Times. The British government was very keen to create jobs in Northern Ireland to reduce
sectarian violence by reducing unemployment. As part of this offer, DeLorean was apparently under the impression that the British government would provide his company with
Export Credit financing. This would provide a loan of 80% of the wholesale cost of the vehicles (US$20,000) upon completion and delivery for shipping.
In October 1978, construction of the six-building, 660,000 ft² (61,000 m²) manufacturing plant began in Northern Ireland and was designed and managed by Brodie and Hawthorn Architects based in Belfast and constructed in 16 months by Farrans McLaughlin & Harvey. Officially known as DMCL (DeLorean Motor Cars, Ltd.), the facility was located in
Dunmurry, a suburb of
Belfast. It was situated on an interface between two communities with differing political outlooks:
Unit production was scheduled to begin in 1979, but engineering delays and budget overruns caused the
assembly lines to start only in early 1981. Workers at the factory were generally inexperienced; many never had jobs before joining DMC. This may have contributed to the reported
quality issues attributed to the early production vehicles and the subsequent establishment of Quality Assurance Centers (QAC) located at various delivery locations. QACs were set up in
New Jersey and
Michigan where some of the quality issues were to be addressed and resolved before delivery to
dealerships. Some of the issues related to the fitting of body panels, higher-output
gullwing door adjustments.
The combined efforts of quality assurance improvements at the factory and the post-production
quality assurance done at the QACs were generally successful, although workmanship complaints would still occasionally arise; the 1981 DeLoreans were delivered with a 12-month, 12,000 mi (19,000 km)
warranty. By 1982, improvements in components and the more experienced workforce meant that production quality was vastly improved. Disputes between dealerships and customers arose later because many dealerships refused to do warranty work because they were not reimbursed.