The DeLorean Starts Rolling: Wake-Up Video

Under normal circumstances, the anniversary of the beginning of the manufacturing of a car wouldn’t be all that big a deal. However, when production of the DeLorean DMC-12 began on this day in 1981, it ended up having a profound effect on pop culture at large.

Designed by American engineer John DeLorean (who up until then had been most famous for working on a trio of sports and muscle cars for Pontiac), the DeLorean was an incredible automotive creation that was easily identified by its flip-up doors (known as the “gull-wing” style), a rear-mounted engine and a fiberglass-and-steel construction (which ended up making the car ridiculously heavy). The development of the car (which eventually became known simply as the Delorean) cost the mogul $175 million and was partially funded by investments made by the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr. and Johnny Carson. Production was supposed to begin in 1978, but engineering snafus forced them to wait until this day in 1981.

Of course, the DeLorean’s first life was a disaster. Only about 9,000 cars were made before production was abruptly halted in 1982 following the bankruptcy of the DeLorean Motor Company (brought on partially by the expenses associated with the car and partially by the founder’s arrest for drug trafficking — a crime for which he was later acquitted). But the DeLorean’s life was not done, as it became an iconic piece of pop culture minutiae when it became the basis for Dr. Emmett Brown’s time machine in the series of “Back to the Future” movies. Not only was that big for the careers of Michael J. Fox and Robert Zemeckis, but it was also a huge leap forward for Huey Lewis (who provided some great songs for the first film, including the hits “Back in Time” and “The Power of Love”). In honor of one of the most iconic vehicles in all of film history, crank up Lewis’ “The Heart of Rock and Roll.”